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Arsenal success

Mikel Arteta had a 92% passing accuracy in Arsenal's win over Newcastle as Arsene Wenger closed in on the Champions League

Last Updated: 28/04/14 11:38pm

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Mikel Arteta: Attempted 88 passes with a 92 per cent accuracy

Mikel Arteta: Attempted 88 passes with a 92 per cent accuracy

A top-four place which for a while seemed like a mere possibility has gone beyond probability and is now all but achieved for Arsene Wenger and Arsenal.

Three points in their final two league games will confirm the club's 17th consecutive season of UEFA Champions League football, a record better than any club in Europe other than Real Madrid.

Arsenal were not at their best in the victory over Newcastle United, which moved them into the above position, but neither did they need to be; this was the first time Newcastle have lost six consecutive top-flight matches since 1987.

Alan Pardew chose to pack his midfield in an attempt to hold out for as long as possible and win on the break but his defence pushed high up the field from the off.

Newcastle's average player position shows the high line and packed midfield

That left space in behind into which Arsenal's creative midfielders were only too happy to lift the ball and Wenger's team scored more than twice for the third match in a row for the first time since November 2011.

The passing of Mikel Arteta in Arsenal's midfield was important in that achievement. The Spaniard attempted 88 passes with a 92 per cent accuracy and lost the ball on fewer occasions than any other Arsenal midfielder.

Arteta's passing (blue: success; red: fail)

Now, in the wake of this success for Arsenal and with their ambitions almost achieved, thoughts could turn to what might have been.

What if it had not been for the significant injuries suffered by Theo Walcott, who has been limited to just nine league starts?

Arsenal won nine and drew another of the 12 games Walcott started this season and without him lacked one of their most principle weapons - this was Arsenal's top scorer last season.

But there is also little time for negativity. Wenger will surely be at the helm to lead Arsenal into yet another season in which they will compete on four fronts.

A version of this article first appeared on Football365

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Barclays Premier League

Barclays Premier League
Pos Team P Pts
1 Chelsea 37 84
2 Manchester City 37 76
3 Arsenal 37 72
4 Manchester United 37 69
5 Liverpool 37 62
6 Tottenham Hotspur 37 61
7 Southampton 37 60
8 Swansea City 37 56
9 Stoke City 37 51
10 Everton 37 47
11 West Ham United 37 47
12 Crystal Palace 37 45
13 West Bromwich Albion 37 44
14 Leicester City 37 38
15 Sunderland 37 38
16 Aston Villa 37 38
17 Newcastle United 37 36
18 Hull City 37 34
19 Burnley 37 30
20 Queens Park Rangers 37 30

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