Arsenal secured fourth spot in the Premier League with a nervy win over Newcastle that meant Tottenham's late win against Sunderland was in vain
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Michael Dawson speaks: "Devastating ... the season we've put in. The work-rate we've put in, the quality we have ... it's devastating. It's really hard to take. We've got 72 points, the highest total the club's ever got and we still miss out on the Champions League ... it's hard to take. It's a hard day. It's not a good day."
He goes on to say that he heard Spurs fans celebrating and assumed Newcastle had done his side a favour, so when Gareth Bale scored he presumed Spurs had secured fourth place. When word filtered down from the stands that reports of Arsenal's demise had been greatly exaggerated, he was and remains totally gutted.
5.56pm: With fourth place in the Premier League secured, Arsenal's players do a chorus-line style bow before the decidedly happy Gooners in the away end of St James' Park. Meanwhile at White Hart Lane, a very fed-up looking Gareth Bale joins an equally depressed Andre Villas Boas in the centre-circle before storming off down the tunnel to rue his side's terrible luck.
Both matches have ended! Arsenal beat Newcastle 1-0 and Tottenham have beaten Sunderland by the same score, courtesy of another Gareth Bale wonder-strike. Will it be his final goal as a Tottenham Hotspur player? With his club consigned to next season's Europa League, it seems unlikely that he'll stick around for much longer.
5.52pm: Spurs have beaten Sunderland at White Hart Lane, but in the closing seconds at St James' Park, Arsenal have a corner.
5.51pm: Apologies to Walcott, whose most recent chance to score wasn't as simple as I first thought. He slid the ball across the bows of Steve Harper and on to the post. It wasn't a sitter, but he should have done better with it.
5.49pm: The 90 minutes are up in both games and Tottenham desperately need Newcastle to score and do them a favour. At St James' Park, Theo Walcott hits the post from about seven yards out with at least half the goal gaping and apparently at his mercy. That was an astonishing miss. There'll be four minutes of added time in both games.
GOAL! Tottenham 1-0 Sunderland (Bale 88) Another fantastic strike from the Welshman puts Tottenham Hotspur ahead. He cuts inside from the right and sends a delightful curling effort beyond Mignolet from about 30 yards. That is a splendid, splendid goal.
5.45pm: Five minutes plus extras to go in both games. It's Newcastle 0-1 Arsenal and Tottenham 0-0 Sunderland. Although you probably don't need to be reminded, Arsenal will qualify for the Champions League qualifiers should the scores remain the same. Spurs must beat Sunderland and hope Newcastle can do them a favour.
5.42pm: Andre Villas Boas sends on Gylfi Sigurdsson, who replaces Benoit Assou Ekotto. The Icelandic international makes an immediate impact, shooting from distance only to see his goal-bound shot blocked by Seb Larsson. The ball breaks to Tom Huddlestone, who shoots low and hard from 25 yards. Simon Mignolet gets down to make the save.
5.38pm: There are 10 minutes of the Premier League season to go, plus added time. Arsenal lead Newcastle 1-0, while Tottenham are being held by 10-man Sunderland's patchwork defence. They've had no luck today, but should be able to beat that team comfortably. Paolo Di Canio has just sent on two kids: Mikael Mandron comes on for his second senior appearance, while Billy Knott makes his debut. Danny Graham and James McClean make way.
5.36pm: Andre Villas Boas has sent on Jermain Defoe. Fernando Torres fires Chelsea ahead of Everton, which means Chelsea look set fair to guarantee themselves third place in the league.
5.33pm: Finally, a refereeing decision goes Tottenham's way. David Vaughan picks up his second yellow card of the afternoon for a foul on Aaron Lennon. Needless to say, it's followed by a red card and he walks off down the tunnel. That's the third red card brandished at a Sunderland player in the club's last four games. There are 14 minutes plus added time left in both matches and as things stand, Arsenal will be getting that all important fourth spot.
5.31pm: Gareth Bale has a rasping drive you'd expect him to score in his sleep blocked by the excellent Simon Mignolet.
5.27pm: For Tottenham, Michael Dawson goes close with a powerful header from the edge of the penlaty area. Sebastian Larsson blocks it before it crosses the line. Meanwhile in the stands, there can be few sights more comical than the crushed looks of disappointment on the faces of the many Spurs fans who have just realised that, contrary to false reports, Newcastle haven't in fact equalised.
5.25pm: We're in the 66th minute of both matches and it's Newcastle 0-1 Arsenal and Tottenham 0-0 Sunderland. As things stand, Arsenal will secure fourth spot in the Premier League and earn a crack at Champions League football. Meanwhile at White Hart Lane, Tottenham's supporters appear to be labouring under the delusion that Newcastle have equalised against Arsenal. They have not.
5.20pm: Tottenham can't buy a goal here. With Sunderland goalkeeper Simon Mignolet marooned in no-man's land, Scott Parker shoots low and hard towards the goal he's recently vacated, only for Jack Colback to clear his shot off the line. The ball breaks to - I think - Vertonghen who returns it with interest. His low drive is half-blocked by Colback, who unwittingly deflects the ball on to the post. It bounces back into play and Sunderland eventually clear. How on earth did that stay out?
5.17pm: Although an Arsenal victory will render their efforts redundant, it's worth noting that Tottenham Hotspur have been denied two clear penalties (Larsson on Bale and Cuellar's handball) this afternoon and one that was more 50-50 (Colback handball). It's small wonder their manager Andre Villas Boas is furious. In the immediate aftermath of the latest travesty of justice, he leaped in the air and then hared off down the tunnel in search of the fourth official Phil Dowd. Upon his return, he learned that Arsenal had scored. Ouch.
5.16pm: Newcastle substitution: Vurnon Anita on for Yohan Cabaye.
GOAL! Newcastle 0-1 Arsenal (Koscielny 52) It's all going pear-shaped for Spurs and this time it isn't Andre Marriner's fault. Per Mertesacker leaps highest to get on the end of a free-kick from the right. His loopping header drops on the edge of the six-yard box, where Laurent Koscielny pokes home with an acrobatic swivel.
50 min: Spurs are denied what looks a certain penalty when, falling in the penalty area, Carlos Cuellar blocks an Emmanual Adebayor shot from distance with his arm. The assorted appeals of various Spurs fans and everyone in the stands fall on deaf ears ... again.
5.07pm: Moments earlier, at Newcastle 0-0 Arsenal, Steve Harper almost marked his final appearance for Newcastle with a new addition for his blooper DVD. A poor pass allowed Tomas Rosicky to converge on goal with the ball at his feet and the goalkeeper had to rely on central defender Steven Taylor to spare his blushes.
5.04pm: Aaron Lennon tries his luck for Spurs with a low drive from distance after a Benoit Assou Ekotto cross from the left pinballs its way through the penalty area and ends up rolling his way. It's a decent effort, but fizzes a foot or two wide of the right post.
5.03pm: Both matches kick off after half-time. Newcastle v Arsenal resumes about one second after Tottenham v Sunderland. Both games are scoreless.
5.02pm: Shortly before the start of the second half at White Hart Lane and Gareth Bale is deep in conversation with Andre Marriner, presumably on the subject of the booking he received upon being hauled to the ground in the first half.
An email from Terry Nile: "I'm sitting here on the deck of our rented house on Eleuthera in the Bahamas looking out on the turquoise sea and pink sand with a Goombay Smash cocktail in my hand," he writes. "But I'd much rather be at White Hart Lane. COYS!"
I'm sure I speak for all but the most insensitive and uncaring of our readers, Terry, when I say that I feel your not inconsiderable pain. That bang to goolies Jonas Gutierrez shipped palls into utter insignificance compared to the agonies you appear to be suffering. Rest assured that all our thoughts are with you at this difficult time.
Gary Neville speaks: [Arsenal] need more urgency. They need to do something with the centre-forward because Podolski hasn't even made a run yet. If they continue to let the game drift by them they're going to get a bloody nose here."
Half-time at St James' Park: Newcastle 0-0 Arsenal.
Half-time at White Hart Lane: Tottenham 0-0 Sunderland.
4.46pm: At the exact same time, Arsenal and Sunderland win free-kickas in identical wide areas, in prime crossing range. Theo Walcott swings the ball into the mixer for Arsenal, where Tomas Rosicky has to stretch to keep the ball from sailing wide. Newcastle clear. Meanwhile at White Hart Lane, Adam Johnson does the honours for Sunderland, fizzing an excellent arcing ball deep towards the far post. Hugo Loris is forced to bat the ball clear and his defenders mop up.
4.44pm: On the Arsenal bench, Arsene Wenger has a look of thunder on his face. On the Tottenham bench, Andre Villas Boas looks even more furious. He's feeling very hard done by this afternoon's refereeing performance from Andre Marriner and it's probably fair to say the referee has been quite harsh on Spurs.
4.40pm: Oblivious to the fact that Gareth Bale is standing behind him in an offside position, John O'Shea attempts to head the ball back to his goalkeeper, Simon Mignolet. Bale tries to pounce on the weak header, but can't steer the ball home and Mignolet saves his skipper's bacon. Would it have counted if it had gone in? I don't know, is the honest answer. O'Shea claimed Bale was offside, Bale claimed he was no longer offside once O'Shea headed the ball and with so many interpretations of what constitutes different "phases of play" in these situations, it's difficult to know which of them was right. Or if, indeed, either of them was wrong!
4.38pm: Interesting possession stat from Newcastle 0-0 Arsenal. The home side have had 51% of the play thus far. Tomas Rosicky has just been booked in that game, but I'm not sure why.
4.35pm: After great play down the left from Aaron Lennon, who left Seb Larsson for dead, the winger pulls a great ball back to Gareth Bale. The Welshman strikes the ball and his goal-bound drive is well blocked by Jack Colbeck. It was act6ually well blocked by Jack Colback's hand and Bale appeals for a penalty, which he doesn't get. Was it a deliberate hand-ball? Hmmm ... I don't know. I've seen penalties given for a lot less.
4.34pm: "Arsenal's defence is doing well against Newcastle, but they are certainly not doing well offensively," writes Amir H. "Newcastle looks confident and lethal going forward. Tracking two matches is quite the task though!" Ah, it's not difficult, Amir - I'm typing the bits from the Newcastle v Arsenal game with my left hand and the bits from Spurs v Sunderland with my right.
4.31pm: Oooh! Sunderland go very close to taking the lead against Spurs. Hulking tattooed man-boy Connor Wickham plays the ball out wide to Danny Graham and gallops towards the near post to pick up the low return cross from the right. He's first to the ball and only a splendid reflex save from Hugo Loris keeps the ball from crossing the line. The French goalkeeper puts the ball out for a corner, from which nothing comes.
4.29pm: As we approach the half-hour mark, it's Tottenham 0-0 Sunderland and Newcastle 0-0 Arsenal. At St James' Park, there's bad news for Gooners - Mikel Arteta, who was a major doubt for this match, has succumbed to injury and been replaced by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
4.26pm: Back at St James' Park, Jonas Gutierrez's afternoon goes from worse to not quite as bad. Unable to catch up with Theo Walcott, possibly because of his giant swollen swingers, the Argentinian pulls him off balance as the Arsenal forward sprints past him. He gets booked for his troubles.
4.21pm: Through on goal with the ball at his feet and Sebastian Larsson in hot pursuit, Gareth Bale is dragged to the ground by the makeshift defender. It's in the penalty area and a quite obvious foul, so referee Andre Marriner is left with no choice. He gives a shrill blast on his whistle ... reaches for his pocket, pulls out the yellow card and ... books an outraged Bale for diving. That is a ludicrous decision, even if Bale does have plenty of form in the field of letting gravity get the better of him in opposition penalty areas. Spurs should have had a penalty and Larsson could quite conceivably have been sent off. On the touchline, Andre Villas Boas goes berserk.
4.19pm: Meanwhile at St James' Park, Jonas Gutierrez, the poor bugger, is lying on the ground cupping his crown jewels with both hands. I'm not sure if he got kicked, elbowed, punched or some other manner of assault in his testicular region, but he looks ashen-faced and in a hell of a lot of pain. Ouch.
4.17pm: At White Hart Lane, Emmanual Adebayor jinks and shimmies his way into the Sunderland penalty area and tries to pick out Gareth Bale with a gently wafted cross to the far post. There's a mite too much welly on the ball and the Welshman can't reach it. He does, however, turn to applaud his team-mate's vision.
4.15pm: With 15 minutes gone in both games, it remains scoreless, but Arsenal and Tottenham are dominating Newcastle and Sunderland respectively. Sunderland are seriously under the cosh, although Tottenham don't seem to be doing much with all their possession. I think it is utterly inconceivable that Tottenham will emerge from this match with anything other than an emphatic win.
4.11pm: "I don't like to be rude at the best of times, but Redknapp and Neville are, we've seen their houses, not the kind of people who can talk about vulgarity with any degree of authority and I can't help thinking that an incentive announced after the event that it's supposed to incentivise would be a less effective incentive?" writes Shane O'Leary. "It's the day of rest and we really shouldn't be tortured with this kind of guff, should we? Really?"
Fair point, but I think they meant that Ashley should not have made a public announcement about the prize on offer to his non-playing staff. Besides, I'm not sure offering money to other people is any way to incentivise multi-millionaire footballers.
4.09pm: At White Hart Lane, Jan Vertonghen, who's been mightily impressive for Spurs this season, tries to make room for a shot from the edge of the penalty area. He takes one touch too many and surrenders possession. No goals in either match so far: Arsenal 0-0 Newcastle and Tottenham Hotspur 0-0 Sunderland.
4.08pm: The best chance of either game so far comes at St James' Park, where Papiss Cisse gets on the end of a low cross squared from the left, but sends his 20-yard effort fizzing just over the crossbar.
4.06pm: Emmanuel Adebayor appeals half-heartedly for a penalty at Spurs, claiming he was dragged to the ground. None is forthcoming.
4.05pm: No chances of note to report at either game yet, but Spurs have a corner at White Hart Lane. There's a delay as the referee has words with Alfred N'Diaye and Tom Huddlestone and tells them to stop pulling and dragging out of each other. From the corner, Spurs win another when Clint Dempsey goes close.
4.01pm: At Spurs v Sunderland, Benoit Assou Ekotto does ... something. I'm not sure what, because I was watching and listening to Newcastle v Arsenal at the time. I'm not altogether sure this wheeze of doing two minute-by-minute reports at a time is a great idea.
4.00pm and 52 seconds: Newcastle v Arsenal kicks off.
4.00pm: Spurs v Sunderland kicks off.
3.59pm: Almost simultaneously, Arsene Wenger shakes hands with Alan Pardew, while several hundred miles away, Paolo Di Canio exchanges pleasantries with Andres Villas Boas.
With Newcastle emerging from the home dressing room at St James' Park, all four teams are now ready to make their way out on to the respective pitches for the afternoon's crunch matches. Steve Harper is indeed Newcastle's skipper today and leads out the side in the company of his two matches.
"I think both NUFC and SAFC fans would agree that going for the title of North East Top Dogs is a little like two bald men fighting over a comb," he writes. "Pathetic seasons from both clubs."
Manchester United to beat WBA, Tottenham to beat Sunderland and Everton to beat Chelsea is 9-1. Get on!
Tottenham: Lloris, Walker, Vertonghen, Dawson, Assou-Ekotto,
Lennon, Parker, Huddlestone, Dempsey, Bale, Adebayor.
Subs: Friedel, Naughton, Defoe, Dembele, Sigurdsson, Holtby, Caulker.
Sunderland: Mignolet, Cuellar, O'Shea, Colback, McClean,
Larsson, Vaughan, N'Diaye, Johnson, Wickham, Graham.
Subs: Westwood, Marrs, Mandron, Knott, Mitchell, Ferguson, Harrison.
Referee: Andre Marriner (W Midlands)
Paolo Di Canio speaks: The Sunderland manager refuses to be drawn on his decision to drop Phil Bardsley from his match-day squad and says he'll talk about it after the game, but wants to focus on the players that are in London before it starts.
Yeovil Town have just won the League One play-off and will play in the Championship next season. That is an astonishing achievement for the Somerset club with a budget of tuppence-h'penny. Wow! Hats off to manager Gary Johnson and his men on an astonishing achievement.
Three kids making their first appearance on the bench and a starting eleven that looks incredibly threadbare and make-and-do. Man for man, Tottenham look superior in every department and it's difficult to imagine them emerging with anything other than a win today. I'll have the line-ups in a jiffy!
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,
Referee: Howard Webb (S Yorkshire)
The Newcastle owner has promised to split £1m among the club's non-playing staff if Newcastle beat Arsenal this afternoon. The announcement of this wheeze has impressed Kath, the tea lady from the press room with 50 years service under her belt, but gone down like a lead balloon with Sky Sports pundits Jamie Redknapp and Gary Neville, who feel the gesture is vulgar. They make the point that he shouldn't need to incentivise his players for a match like this and shouldn't have announced it until after the game.
Mousa Dembele has to settle for a place on the bench as Tottenham look to achieve the win over Sunderland that would give them a chance of qualifying for the Champions League.
Benoit Assou-Ekotto overcame a knee injury to start at left-back while Emmanuel Adebayor lines up alongside Gareth Bale up front. Phil Bardsley and Matthew Kilgallon were both dropped from the Sunderland squad after pictures emerged of the duo partying in a casino in midweek.
Steve Harper is handed the captain's armband as he makes his 199th and final appearance for Newcastle against Arsenal. The 38-year-old is included, with Rob Elliot suspended and Tim Krul injured, in one of two changes to the side which won 2-1 at QPR last weekend with Steven Taylor returning from illness in place of Mike Williamson.
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger fields an unchanged side after midfielder Mikel Arteta shook off a calf problem as the Gunners look to secure Champions League football for next season.
A quick note - I'm told Steve Harper has been made Newcastle captain today, rather than Fabricio Coloccini.
With Craig Gardner and Stephane Sessegnon both sitting this match out on the naughty step as a result of red cards, Danny Rose unable to play because he's on loan from Spurs and Steven Fletcher, Lee Cattermole and Wes Brown all injured, Sunderland could do with having all hands to the pump this afternoon. Sadly, it has been reported that their full-back Phil Bardsley has been omitted from today's squad after being pictured lying flat on his back on the floor of a casino on a night out during the week, covered in £50 notes one suspects he'll end up having to pay to his apparently enraged manager Paolo Di Canio as part of a very hefty fine.
Sunderland are safe and they travel to London without a clutch of key players, writes David Hytner. But any notion that they might already have their minds on the beach has been scorched by Paolo Di Canio. The visitors will be up for this one and they will seek to derail Tottenham's Champions League dream which, admittedly, also needs help from Newcastle United. André Villas-Boas will rely on the noises from the crowd to keep him informed of Arsenal's fortunes at St James' Park and he will focus merely on the victory he needs. It will be tense. Click on this link to view the squad sheets.
Injury to Tim Krul and Rob Elliot's suspension dictate that the 38-year-old Steve Harper makes a final, richly deserved appearance in goal for Newcastle United after 20 years at the club, writes Louise Taylor. Harper will be hoping to avoid a repeat of last season's fixture in North London when Arsenal prevailed 7-3. Indeed after conceding nine goals in their last two home games against Sunderland and Liverpool, Alan Pardew's team could do with keeping a clean sheet. Desperate to qualify for the Champions League rather than the Europa Arsène Wenger will have very different ideas. Newcastle fans, meanwhile, will be hoping against hope that this is not Fabricio Coloccini's final game in black and white. Click on this link to view the squad sheets.
You can read Dominic Fifield's match previews from today's Observer by clicking on this link, while David Conn has been analysing the financial implications for Tottenham Hotspur should they fail to secure Champions League football next season.
If Chelsea draw with Everton and and Arsenal beat Newcastle by a single goal, scoring two more goals than Chelsea have in their draw - say 0-0 and 2-1 - both London clubs will finish the season level on points, goal difference and goals scored. A play-off at Villa Park a week today would decide third place. Of course if Arsenal win today and Chelsea lose, Arsenal will finish third and consign the Europa League champions to fourth place.
So, bitter rivals from north London take on bitter rivals from the north-east with the last remaining Champions League spot up for grabs. Arsenal are in the box-seat and a win for Arsene Wenger's side over Newcastle at St James' Park will secure them a top four finish for the 16th consecutive season and consign Tottenham to the Europa League.
However, should Arsenal slip up and Spurs beat Sunderland at White Hart Lane, André Villas-Boas's side would leapfrog their neighbours and secure top four status and a place in the qualifiers for next season's Champions League group stages.
Of course, neither Newcastle nor Sunderland have been pulling up too many trees of late and victory for either team would consitutue a major surprise. Both teams could, however, do with salvaging some end-of-season pride and the title of Tallest Pygmy In The Village remains up for grabs. Defeat - and almost certainly a draw - for Newcastle and a Sunderland win would give Mackems local bragging rights, but a Newcastle win would make them top Tyne-Wear dogs, whatever the outcome of the match between Sunderland and Spurs.