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West Bromwich Albion
West Ham United
19 May 2013
• St. James' Park, Newcastle-upon-Tyne
Referee: H. Webb
• Attendance: 52354
L. Koscielny 52'
What a day of high drama in the Premier League. We'll certainly miss it over the summer! Thanks for sticking with me through it all, @AdamMazrani, I'll see you all next season.
It's harsh on Spurs as they achieved their best ever points tally in the Premier League but despite the continued brilliance of Gareth Bale, it just wasn't enough for Andre Villas-Boas' men.
There are scenes of jubilation out on the pitch at St James' Park as Arsenal celebration what Arsene Wenger described earlier this season as a "trophy". It may not be that but it certainly is something to savour, particularly as it comes at the expense of Tottenham.
It's all over! That was unbelievably tense towards the end as Arsenal refused point-blank to waste time, instead choosing to go for goal. But eventually, referee Howard Webb did blow for full time and thanks to Laurent Koscielny's goal early in the second period, the Gunners will be in the Champions League for the 16th consecutive season and retain their record of finishing above Tottenham in every season under the stewardship of Arsene Wenger.
90' + 3'
A minute to play now. Not much is happening, which is wonderful for Arsenal and Arsene Wenger.
90' + 1'
Walcott hits the post! He sprinted onto a Giroud flick on, took it past Coloccini and tried to poke it beyond Harper. He does so but it agonisingly rolls against the post. Just over two minutes left to play now!
Four minutes of stoppage time. This is unbearable.
Unbelievably, Gareth Bale has put Tottenham ahead at White Hart Lane and Arsenal now just have just over two to three minutes you would expect to close this out. What drama!
More drama in the Arsenal penalty area as Debuchy is brought down by Cazorla in the box but nothing is given by Howard Webb. The scores are still level at White Hart Lane, where Tottenham are now playing against 10 men. It increasingly looks like Arsenal will take 4th place.
The atmosphere is increasingly muted at St James' Park and we're in the final five minutes of normal time now. Arsenal look like they are about to close the game out but the nerves are still prominent and they can't seem to get their foot on the ball.
Walcott's corner is overhit and is collected by Cazorla, who effortlessly jinks inside the full-back and cuts across the ball with a swinging effort that can only curl wide. You would think there are just about 10 minutes left to play here.
Yellow Card Kieran Gibbs
Half a penalty shout for Newcastle as Steven Taylor goes up for a challenge. However, Koscielny's interception is firm and strong, not for the first time today, and the Gunners clear.
Newcastle pushing forward now in search of an equaliser and Arsenal are looking increasingly nervous. The Magpies are bringing on local boy Adam Campbell. Could we have a Wayne Rooney moment here? It's an attacking move by Alan Pardew as Yanga-Mbiwa is brought off for the youngster.
Fernando Torres has put Chelsea ahead at Stamford Bridge, which means Arsenal are now fighting for fourth. The Gunners look to be feeling the nerves a little here, perhaps understandably so. Olivier Giroud is about to be brought on for Lukas Podolski.
This match is drifting somewhat but nobody in Arsenal's colours should be fooled for a second. If they switch off for a single second, it is simply asking for trouble. Just over 15 minutes to go now and Arsene Wenger looks like he is about to have a heart attack.
It's still 1-1 between Chelsea and Everton and 0-0 between Tottenham and Sunderland. That means that if Arsenal can get another goal here, they would finish third in the table above even Chelsea as things stand and thus avoid a potentially tricky Champions League qualifier. How much would Arsene Wenger love that?
Newcastle threaten for the first time in a while when Hatem Ben Arfa thrashes an effort on goal from close to 35 yards out. It looks like it might just be on target before it viciously swings wide at the last moment. He's been the host's most dangerous player by far throughout the match.
The free-kick is blocked by the wall and the ball eventually is worked to Oxlade-Chamberlain who takes aim but misses the target completely. Arsenal are just over 20 minutes away now.
Arsenal wrestle back control of the possession and it's no surprise that it's Cazorla at the heart of everything. He turns away from the Newcastle defenders quite brilliantly and wins a free-kick for his side under challenge from Yanga-Mbiwa.
Small stoppage in play here as Tiote goes down to receive treatment after receiving a wack to the face from Lukas Podolski.
Another half-chance for Newcastle. Debuchy escapes clear down Arsenal's left and his dangerous ball in finds Gouffran who tries to turn it in but can't quite escape the attentions of Mertesacker and Koscielny, who scramble it clear. That is Gouffran's last action of the game for Newcastle, who is now being replaced by Sylvain Marveaux.
These are worrying times for Arsenal. They are sitting back and inviting Newcastle onto them. They may be leading but the situation is still precarious for them. Should Newcastle equalise than one Tottenham goal against Sunderland, however late, will take them into the top four at the expense of the Gunners.
Remember Dennis Bergkamp scoring here at Newcastle all those years ago after that brilliant turn? Papiss Cisse has just attempted to try the same thing, albeit with less finesse. Koscielny is wise to it however and clears comfortably enough.
Now it's Newcastle's turn to threaten as a loose pass from Oxlade-Chamberlain (inexperience perhaps?) sets Gutierrez running at the visitors' defence. His pass finds Cisse who takes aim and attempts a spectacular strike that is well blocked by that man Koscielny. Then Ben Arfa jinks into the box and for a second looks to have fashioned a shooting opportunity but again an Arsenal defender is there to clear it in the nick of time. Nail-biting stuff at the moment.
Another moment that swings in Arsenal's favour as the dangerous Yohan Cabaye limps off for Newcastle, to be replaced by Vurnon Anita.
Now we'll see just how committed these Newcastle players are to performing at 1-0 down. The Gunners are jubilant and are bossing possession now. Remember it was Koscielny who scored the winner at West Brom last season to secure Champions League football. Could he have done it again?
Newcastle play a ragged pass in midfield and immediately, Oxlade-Chamberlain picks it up and is sprinting directly at the hosts' backline. His threaded pass is nearly inch-perfect for Walcott who clearly has the beating of Yanga-Mbiwa for pace but Steve Harper does well to claim the ball at his feet.
Assist Lukas Podolski
Goal Laurent Koscielny
Arsenal have the lead!!! They've improved since the start of the second period and now it shows on the scoreline as Laurent Koscielny acrobatically volleys the Gunners into the lead. From a Theo Walcott free-kick, Lukas Podolski wins the initial header and it falls perfectly for Koscielny, on the turn, to volley in from close range past Harper. The Gunners' supporters are in full voice. That could be the goal that secures Champions League football next season for them.
Heart-in-mouths time for the Gunners as for a split-second it looks like Newcastle may have two players in on goal. However, Szczesny shows good anticipation to race off his line and collect well.
There looks to be a bit more urgency from the Gunners now. They are not letting Newcastle have any time on the ball whatsoever and that high pressing is helping them win the ball back early. Arsene Wenger still looks rather worried on the touchline.
Arsenal get us back underway. Almost immediately, they nearly go ahead! Steve Harper's poor clearance goes straight to Walcott who produces an excellent drilled effort that the Newcastle keeper gets a hand to. However, no Arsenal player is following up and the rebound is cleared away.
The players are out and Arsenal need to wake up for the most important 45 minutes of their season.
We're minutes away from the second half now and it really is all to play for in these next 45 minutes. Will Newcastle spoil the party? You get the feeling Arsenal need to score.
Arsene Wenger looked a stressed man throughout that half and you can understand why. They have let the game completely drift by in that first half and they really need to up it in the second period.
That was certainly no walk in the park for Arsenal. They've looked the better team but only just and Newcastle, particularly through Gouffran and Ben Arfa on the break, look to carry a real threat. What did you think? Let us know via @AdamMazrani or @GoalUK.
It's half-time both here and at White Hart Lane and the scorelines are locked at 0-0 in both matches. At the moment, Arsenal are still going through to the Champions League next season at the expense of their North London rivals. I'd be hugely shocked if both scores were still 0-0 by the end of the 90 minutes though.
That is an absolutely crunching tackle, unsurprisingly, from Cheikh Tiote. Ramsey did appear to slip in the lead up to the incident but Tiote took no prisoners whatsoever, following through with his second foot in a rather brutal fashion. From the free kick, Walcott's delivery is just too high for Podolski to direct into the net. We've got two minutes of stoppage time here.
Arsenal camp themselves in Newcastle's final third but their passing is just lacking in incision a little and after taking too long on the ball, Ramsey eventually loses the ball. The scores are still level at White Hart Lane however so as things stand, this result would still take Arsenal into the Champions League next season.
Five minutes to go until half time now and we're still level. It's been an even half in truth. Newcastle have looked just as dangerous as Arsenal have but perhaps it has been evident that the visitors do possess the greater threat, particularly when their passing finds rhythm.
Yellow Card Tomas Rosicky
Steve Harper has just received a minute's worth of applause to commemorate his shirt number of 37. After 20 years of service, it's an emotional moment for the goalkeeper, who is in visibly in tears. Almost immediately, Podolski races clear one-on-one with the veteran custodian. The offside flag (wrongly) goes up almost immediately but Harper doesn't know that and he spreads himself brilliantly to deny the German.
Anyone who questioned Newcastle's desire to get a result today were sorely mistaken. They have been crunching into the challenges all afternoon and the fans are just as up for it as the players are. Whenever Ben Arfa gets the ball the whole place lights up. Cabaye's just had a pot-shot from range but Szczesny is right behind it all the way and gathers comfortably.
Newcastle have a period of concerted pressure in and around the Arsenal box and ultimately a corner comes to nothing. From the counter-attack, Walcott scampers clear but Cazorla's outrageous long-range left-footed lofted pass only just, just evades his target.
The clearest opening for Arsenal by some distance. Kieran Gibbs, for the first time today, escapes the attentions of Debuchy on Newcastle's right, cuts inside well and finds Cazorla on the edge of the box. The Spaniard has been so cool in front of goal this season but his touch evades him there and he scoops the ball well over the bar.
Oxlade-Chamberlain has his first involvement and it's not a very good one, as he accidentally intercepts a Rosicky pass that was heading towards the in-space Walcott, but only succeeds in knocking the ball out of play with his first touch.
You'd think that Oxlade-Chamberlain would head out to the left-wing with Santi Cazorla coming inside. Instead, the young England international has taken his place in the centre of midfield, where he of course wants to play in the future. There's very little goal-mouth action going on at the moment, it's become rather fractured.
Mikel Arteta is limping heavily. It was a gamble from Arsene Wenger to start the Spaniard but it looks like it hasn't paid off. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is preparing to come on in his place, which says a lot about Jack Wilshere's fitness that the England midfielder, who would you think would be Arteta's natural replacement, is not being brought on in place of the Gunners' vice-captain.
Well that wasn't very far away at all! Walcott swings in a free-kick, Mertesacker flicks on the initial header and Coloccini almost sends it into his own net. Fortunately for the Argentine, it drifts wide.
Walcott is increasingly beginning to come into the match now and he once again shows electric pace to inch ahead of Yanga-Mbiwa but Harper is sharp and pounces on the ball just before the 24-year-old can reach it.
Yellow Card Jonas Gutierrez
Newcastle seem to be getting plenty of joy down Arsenal's left-hand side. Gibbs is nowhere to be seen once more as Gouffran escapes clear and it takes a quite wonderful blocked challenge from Koscielny to prevent the cross from coming in. From the resulting corner, Walcott looks to roar clear but just when he looks to have escaped, Gutierrez cynically brings down the England international and gets a yellow card for his trouble.
We've had a brief stoppage of play here due to a spot of cramp to Jonas Gutierrez. Cramp already?! It's only been 19 minutes! Newcastle are back on the attack again and Arsenal, after that bright initial start, are now looking decidedly shaky.
Ben Arfa has just brought St James' Park to its feet with a wonderful run that takes two or three Arsenal players out of the game. Chelsea are now level at 1-1 with Everton while perhaps more importantly, Tottenham are still tied with Sunderland at 0-0, meaning as things stand Arsenal remain in fourth place at the expense of their rivals.
Newcastle certainly look up for this and on the counter-attack possess serious pace with Ben Arfa, Gouffran and Cisse. Gouffran has just had an drifting effort on his weaker left foot that comfortably rolls wide of Wojciech Szczesny's post.
Straight away at the other end, Koscielny has produced a wonderful bit of defending to deny Papiss Cisse a goal as he cleverly senses the movement of the Senegalese striker and manages to shepherd a Gouffran cross out of play. The Newcastle number 9 is pulled up for a foul on the Frenchman anyway.
A second opportunity for Arsenal and they almost score in the same manner in which they opened the scoring against Wigan on Tuesday night. A Santi Cazorla corner is chipped in, Steve Harper doesn't come and Laurent Koscielny's glancing header drops wide of the post.
Cazorla has been vital in the first 10 minutes here. He's been at his silky, elusive best and already Newcastle are struggling to cope with his movement and slippery dribbling. Chelsea are already 1-0 up against Everton, which means the much talked-about third place play-off between Chelsea and Arsenal already looks in serious doubt.
Chance for Newcastle! Yanga-Mbwia shows great pace to burst past Mertesacker and his pull-back is perfect for Papiss Cisse to swivel a left-footed shot on the turn that flies over the bar.
Remember, you can contact us on Twitter via @AdamMazrani or @GoalUK if you want to get involved on this dramatic final day.
It's the Gunners who have the first shot of the game when a Santi Cazorla free-kick is cleared but only to the lurking Walcott on the edge of the box, who takes a touch and hammers a half-volley that doesn't clear Steve Harper's goal by too much. An early sighter for the England man, there.
No goalmouth action to speak of in these opening few minutes, though it is certainly Arsenal who are unsurprisingly looking the more proactive the moment.
Arsenal have started confidently here, bossing possession in the very early stages.
We're underway here.
Newcastle have lost their last two home games 3-0 and 6-0. Arsenal are unbeaten in their last nine, winning seven of them. There should only be one winner, but football is rarely that simple. Seconds away now.
The players are out, the atmosphere is sensational, the weather is superb. We are all set here. What an afternoon this could prove to be! Remember you can get involved throughout on Twitter via me, @AdamMazrani or @GoalUK.
The players are in the tunnel, we are moments away now.
What would Champions League football mean for Arsenal? Well for one it would mean the rather impressive achievement of 16 consecutive seasons in the competition under Arsene Wenger. Perhaps more importantly for the Frenchman, dining at Europe's top table would surely ease his attempts to strengthen his squad in the summer, where the likes of Stevan Jovetic and Wayne Rooney have already been mentioned.
What do we all think about today then? Will Arsenal cruise through comfortably? Remember this is a Newcastle side that have been crushed 3-0 by Sunderland and 6-0 by Liverpool in their previous two league fixtures. Surely it will not be that easy...not on the final day of the Premier League! Let us know what you think on Twitter via @AdamMazrani or @GoalUK.
We've got just under 15 mins to go until kick-off now and the nerves are most certainly jangling, even for the neutrals, at St James' Park. Arsene Wenger's men have here before of course. Last season they somehow nicked a 3-2 win at West Brom courtesy of a horrendous goalkeeping showing from the Baggies' Martin Fulop. That win meant Arsenal finished third while fourth-placed Tottenham were eventually pushed into the Europa League courtesy of Chelsea's Champions League triumph.
A side-note for today, there remains the possibility of a tantalising play-off between Arsenal and Chelsea for third place. The Blues are currently two points clear of their London rivals but a 0-0 draw at Stamford Bridge with Everton, coupled with a 2-1 Gunners win at Newcastle (two results that are not entirely out of the question), would mean a one-off match on May 26 at Villa Park courtesy of an identical points tally, goal difference, goals scored and goals conceded.
A quick word on the Newcastle team, Steve Harper starts in goal on his final appearance of the club after 20 years of service.
So for the Gunners, Mikel Arteta has passed a fitness test after limping off in the midweek victory over Wigan with a calf injury. Jack Wilshere had been on standby to come in place of the Spaniard, but it looks as if the pre-match cortisone injections have done the trick. Up front, Olivier Giroud is available again after suspension but Lukas Podolski, who scored twice against the Latics on Tuesday night, is preferred to lead the line.
Let's get straight into the teams:Newcastle: Harper, Debuchy, Steven Taylor, Coloccini, Yanga-Mbiwa, Ben Arfa, Cabaye, Tiote, Gutierrez, Gouffran, Cisse. Subs: Alnwick, Simpson, Anita, Perch, Marveaux, Obertan, Campbell. Arsenal: Szczesny, Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs, Ramsey, Arteta, Walcott, Rosicky, Cazorla, Podolski. Subs: Fabianski, Vermaelen, Wilshere, Giroud, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Gervinho, Monreal.
Hello there and welcome to Goal.com UK's play-by-play coverage of Newcastle v Arsenal on the final day of the Premier League season. This represents an absolutely crucial match for the Gunners, who know that a win would take them into the Champions League at the expense of their local rivals Tottenham. I'm Adam Mazrani and I'll be taking you through what is sure to be a dramatic few hours at St James' Park. Get involved on Twitter via me @AdamMazrani, or @GoalUK.
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