NEWCASTLE United’s disappointing season ended in defeat at St James’s Park this afternoon.
Arsenal won 1-0 thanks to a second-half goal from defender Laurent Koscielny.
As so often this season, Newcastle – who dominated the first 45 minutes – couldn’t replicate their first-half form after the break.
And Koscielny’s strike ensured Arsene Wenger’s side finished fourth in the Premier League table - and qualified for next season’s Champions League.
The result meant United ended a hugely-disappointing Premier League season in 16th place, two points above North East rivals Sunderland.
Steve Harper, making his 199th and final appearance for United, was handed the captain’s armband for the game.
Newcastle had the better of the first half, but struggled to turn their possession into clearcut chances. Papiss Demba Cisse and Hatem Ben Arfa shot over Wojciech Szcesny’s bar, while Yohan Cabaye forced a save in the 30th minute.
United were made to pay for those chances after the break, when Arsenal, desperate to secure a top-four place ahead of north London rivals Tottenham Hotspur, fought back.
A Theo Walcott free-kick bounced to Koscielny, who swiveled and beat a helpless Harper from close range.
Newcastle lost Yohan Cabaye to injury in the second half as they pressed for an equaliser. Ben Arfa shot wide in the 72nd minute after a run forward from substitute Sylvain Marveaux.
Teenage striker Adam Campbell came off the bench late in the game, but there was to be no comeback from United, with the game the team’s third successive home defeat.
United’s players re-emerged from the tunnel minutes after the final whistle for what the club described as a “lap of appreciation” to thank supporters for their backing during a frustrating season.
NEWCASTLE UNITED: Harper; Debuchy, S Taylor, Coloccini, Yanga-Mbiwa (Campbell, 81); Tiote, Cabaye (Anita, 57), Gutierrez; Ben Arfa, Cisse, Gouffran (Marveaux, 65). Subs not used: Alnwick, Simpson, Perch, Obertan.
ARSENAL: Szczesny; Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs; Arteta (Oxlade-Chamberlain, 28), Ramsey; Walcott, Rosicky, Cazorla (Wilshere, 90); Podolski (Giroud, 78). Subs not used: Fabianski, Vermaelen, Monreal, Gervinho.
Goals: Koscielny 52
Bookings: Gutierrez 22, Rosicky 39, Gibbs 81
Referee: Howard Webb (Sheffield)
Attendance: 52,354 (3,200 Arsenal)