Newcastle United brought the curtain down on their disappointing season with a 1-0 defeat at home to Arsenal. Laurent Koscielny scored the only goal of the game to secure Champions League qualification for the Gunners, at the expense of arch rivals Tottenham. It was a meaningless game for the home side, who had already secured Premier League safety thanks to a win against QPR a week ago but it was a chance for the Geordies to send their loyal fans away with one last good memory from a terrible domestic season. However, Koscielny’s goal early in the second half proved enough for Arsene Wenger’s men to inflict one final defeat on Newcastle before the Toon try and forget about the season just gone. Even the promise of a £1m pay-out from Mike Ashley to all non-playing staff was not enough to inspire the home side to a win. One may question if the eleven players on the pitch had been offered the bumper payment, the performance may have been more positive. It was an emotional day at St James’ Park for Steve Harper, who made his 199th and final appearance for his boyhood club. The goalkeeper was handed the captain’s armband for the match and was visibly moved when a round of applause rang around St James’ in the 37th minute. Newcastle had the better of the first half, as Arsenal looked nervy as they tried to better Tottenham’s result against Sunderland. The hosts limited the Gunners to a few half chances in the first period, the best being when Santi Cazorla fired high when well positioned on the edge of the box. The clearest chance fell the way of the home side though, when makeshift left-back Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa done well down the left wing. Some sharp passing left the Frenchman with space on the wing and after skinning Per Mertesacker, his pull back was fired narrowly over by Papiss Cisse. Yoan Gouffran partnered Cisse in a 4-4-2 formation for Newcastle and worked hard to try and create chances for his side. On one occasion, he managed to bundle his way through three challenges before running out of steam and firing a tame shot towards goal. Then came the round of applause in the 37th minute for Harper, who had tears in his eyes as the St James’ Park faithful paid tribute to the loyal goalkeeper. The only action Harper had to do in the first half was to smother Lukas Podolski’s chance, although the German had already been flagged offside. Arsenal started the second half quickly and could have taken the lead inside a minute, when Harper’s poor clearance found its way to Theo Walcott. The England winger, who netted a hat-trick when the sides met at the Emirates earlier this season, fired low across goal, only for Harper to get a strong hand to it. The Gunners only had to wait ten more minutes for the breakthrough though, as a free-kick from the right was headed down and hooked in on the turn by Koscielny. Shouts for offside were false, as the Frenchman was level with Fabricio Coloccini when the ball arrived to him. With the visitors not interested in making any real efforts to add to their lead, it was down to Newcastle to force the issue and try and break down the stubborn Gunners back line. Hatem Ben Arfa tried and failed to seriously test Wojciech Szczesny, while appeals for a penalty were ignored by referee Howard Webb as Mathieu Debuchy went down. With news filtering through that Tottenham had taken the lead at home to Sunderland, Arsenal put everyone behind the ball as Newcastle reverted to route one tactics to try and break down the door. However, with no real target men up front, Arsenal almost hit on the counter attack when Walcott broke away. Taking on both Coloccini and Taylor, Walcott was all set to score a wonderful clincher for the visitors, only to see his clever shot come back off the post and Harper pounce on the rebound. No more goalmouth action threatened Arsenal’s precious points and they were able to cling onto the coveted fourth place, with Spurs made to settle for fifth. Newcastle finish the season in a disappointing 16th place, although the position was enough to finish above arch rivals Sunderland. Something about clouds and silver linings ey?