St. James' Park
Barclays Premier League
By Dan King - Newcastle United Club Reporter
Newcastle United 0
Arsenal 1 (Koscielny 52)
SECOND HALF UPDATES
90+4mins: Despite a battling performance - and no little quality - from Newcastle, Arsenal have made the top four courtesy of Laurent Koscielny's 52nd minute goal. The Gunners had to fight all the way but the Gunners just did enough and their fans celebrate pipping city rivals Tottenham.
90+3mins: Harper tips cross-cum-shot from Giroud around the post for a corner, which the visitors will take as long as possible in taking.
90+1mins: Walcott thinks he's wrapped it up for the Gunners as he dribbles past a couple of challenges and pokes the ball beyond Harper but his shot hits the inside of the post and Harper falls on top of the loose ball before another red shirt can get there.
90mins: There will be four minutes of stoppage time and, with Tottenham having just taken the lead against Sunderland, this is huge for Arsenal in their bid for the top four.
89mins: Jack Wilshere is on for Cazorla in Arsenal's final change of the day.
87mins: Anita's nice ball to Debuchy is controlled by the overlapping full-back, who then goes down in the box under pressure from Cazorla but Webb ignores the home crowd's cries for a penalty. It would have been a big call to make with Arsenal so close to the Champions League.
83mins: Walcott's right-wing corner is overhit but Cazorla sprints to keep it in play, checks inside and sends a fizzer inches wide with Harper rooted to the spot.
81mins: Young Adam Campbell is on - a nice moment for him - as he replaces Yanga-Mbiwa and that means Gutierrez reverting to left-back and a slightly more attacking formation for United. Gibbs is then booked for Arsenal for a foul near the corner flag.
78mins: Olivier Giroud is on for Arsenal, in place of Podolski.
72mins: Marveaux picks up the ball, runs at the defence and then squares the ball to Ben Arfa, who lets the ball come all the way to his left foot before sending an arrowing strike wide.
69mins: Oxlade-Chamberlain fires over after a Podolski free-kick was bravely changed down by the black and white wall.
65mins: That was Gouffran's final action of the game - he makes way for Sylvain Marveaux. The former Bordeaux man's movement caused all kinds of problems for Arsenal but Marveaux was hugely impressive at the Emirates in December and will get the chance to make an impression again here.
64mins: Anita plays a lovely ball out to Mathieu Debuchy on the right and his low cross finds Gouffran, who is denied by a vital challenge from Per Mertesacker.
60mins: After a quiet start to the second half, Ben Arfa has burst into life with two sensational runs and the Arsenal defence look scared of him every time he gets the ball. Newcastle have recovered well from going behind but have yet to fashion a clear-cut opportunity in this second period.
52mins - ARSENAL GOAL (0-1): The Gunners take the lead after Cabaye dives in on Bacary Sagna to concede a free-kick on the right-hand side and, after Walcott's delivery is flicked on, Koscielny acrobatically smashes the ball past the helpless Harper from close range. It's a massive goal for the Gunners' Champions League hopes but cruel on Newcastle, who have played so well. There's no reason, though, why the Magpies can't get back into this game despite that setback.
46mins: Arsenal get the second half underway and there are no changes for either side - but there is one in the referee's choice of kit colour as he opts for a green shirt for the second 45 minutes. With Tiote lying injured, Arsenal attack and Walcott streaks in on goal but is denied by a fantastic stop from Harper, who claws the ball away and is relieved to see Steven Taylor get to the loose ball first. Today's attendance is 52,354.
FIRST HALF UPDATES
45+2mins: After a hugely entertaining first half in which Newcastle have more than held their own, the teams head down the tunnel with the score still 0-0. The Magpies look determined to end the campaign on a high and the fans rightly applaud them off. Click here for the half-time report.
45mins: As Newcastle defend a free-kick harshly awarded against Cheick Tiote, the board goes up to show that there will be two minutes of stoppage time.
40mins: More thrilling play from Ben Arfa sees him cut in and unleash a shot narrowly over - on this form, he could be Newcastle's matchwinner this afternoon.
39mins: Harper shows his class with a fine save to deny Lukas Podolski, who was racing in on goal, but the flag was already up against the German international.
37mins: Cabaye sends a 25-yard effort towards goal after some lovely skills from Ben Arfa but it's comfortably saved by Arsenal's Polish goalkeeper. Then the attention turns towards the man at the other end - Steve Harper, wearing the number 37, receives a minute's applause which threatens to take the roof off St. James' Park and is clearly appreciated by the veteran goalkeeper.
31mins: Left-back Gibbs jinks into the box and cuts the ball back perfectly for Cazorla, but the Spaniard curls his 20-yard shot well over the bar and Harper has yet to make a save.
28mins: Mikel Arteta had been an injury doubt before this match and comes off inside the opening half an hour, with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain taking his place. Arsenal would not have wanted to lose their captain in such a big game but the young England winger carries a threat of his own and is well known to Alan Pardew from their Southampton days.
25mins: Ben Arfa takes too long on the ball and is robbed by Kieran Gibbs, and as the Frenchman tries to atone he concedes only in conceding a free-kick. Walcott's delivery from the left is dangerous but leads only to a goal kick as Coloccini defends well.
22mins: The first booking of the game is a warranted one for Gutierrez, who slipped as he tried to retrieve a Yohan Cabaye corner and saw Theo Walcott galloping away with plenty of space ahead of him. The Argentine took one for the team and gave the Arsenal man a little tug to concede a free-kick deep in the Gunners half rather than allow a break to develop.
17mins: Hatem Ben Arfa glides past Cazorla and then leaves Ramsey trailing with a strong run which gets the fans on their feet, and although he eventually has to check back, Jonas Gutierrez takes over the mantle and advances towards goal before hitting a 25 yard strike which takes a deflection to make it easy for Wojciech Szczesny to gather.
13mins: It's end-to-end stuff as Yoan Gouffran beats the offside trap and drives in a lovely low cross which Cisse is just beaten to by Koscielny, only for referee Howard Webb to award a free-kick against the Newcastle fan for a supposed shove. Then as United win the ball back from the free-kick, Coloccini plays a lovely pass to Gouffran, who beats two men with a direct run before dragging his shot across goal.
12mins: After Aaron Ramsey wins a corner, Carzorla floats one in from the left and Laurent Koscielny gets a glancing header to the ball but diverts it wide of the far post.
7mins: A superb run down the left from Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa results in the Frenchman pulling the ball back for Papiss Cisse, who strikes the ball first time from ten yards out and sees it go narrowly off target.
6mins: Santi Carzorla's free-kick is headed away by Fabricio Coloccini, as far as Theo Walcott who controls on his chest and fires in a shot but it goes over the bar without Harper looking unduly concerned.
1min: The sun is shining down on St. James' Park as Newcastle get the game underway, kicking towards the Gallowgate end in this first half. Steve Harper gets a great ovation from the fans behind the Leazes goal on what looks set to be his final appearance for the Club. Both teams are in their home kits.
Newcastle United (4-3-3): Steve Harper (c); Mathieu Debuchy, Steven Taylor, Fabricio Coloccini, Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa (Adam Campbell 81); Yohan Cabaye (Vurnon Anita 57), Cheick Tiote, Jonas Gutierrez; Hatem Ben Arfa, Papiss Cisse, Yoan Gouffran (Sylvain Marveaux 65)
Arsenal (4-2-3-1): Wojciech Szczesny; Bacary Sagna, Per Mertesacker, Laurent Koscielny, Kieran Gibbs; Mikel Arteta (Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain 28), Aaron Ramsey; Tomas Rosicky, Santi Cazorla (Jack Wilshere 89) Theo Walcott; Lukas Podolski (Olivier Giroud 78)
Subs not used: Lukasz Fabianski, Nacho Monreal, Thomas Vermaelen, Gervinho
Referee: Howard Webb