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Can Newcastle United Qualify For The Champions League?

Newcastle United are up to fifth in the Premier League after they beat Blackburn Rovers 2-0, while Arsenal’s poor run of form continues as they were held 0-0 at Bolton.

Newcastle took a 12th-minute lead when Blackburn’s Scott Dann deflected a 25-yard shot from Ryan Taylor past stranded Rovers goalkeeper Paul Robinson. Blackburn, who remain in the bottom three, had a gilt-edged chance to equalise before the break, but David Dunn’s penalty was saved by Tim Krul and the Newcastle keeper blocked Gael Givet’s follow-up. Rovers’ failure to convert several second-half chances was compounded when Gabriel Obertan made it 2-0 to Newcastle in the closing seconds.

With the win Newcastle are now just three points behind Chelsea and a UEFA Champions League place as the Magpies overtook both Liverpool and Arsenal tonight. Newcastle owner Mike Ashley has been roundly criticized (and rightly so) since taking over the club, but I wonder if the Toon army is watching Champions League football next season, will that be enough to turn the Newcastle fans around on him?

At the Reebok Stadium, Arsenal dominated possession, but the closest they came to scoring was two efforts from Robin van Persie that hit the woodwork. The draw dropped Arsenal to seventh in the table, and they are in real danger of not qualifying for the Champions League.

Sunderland meanwhile, have climbed to eighth after their Martin O’Neill-inspired resurgence continued with a 3-0 home win against Norwich City. Fraizer Campbell’s exquisite shot, Stéphane Sessegnon’s delightfully-worked header and Daniel Ayala’s own goal earned O’Neill’s team a sixth victory in nine league games since he succeeded Steve Bruce as manager.

Elsewhere, Djibril Cissé scored 12 minutes into his QPR debut but could not prevent his team from surrendering a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 with Aston Villa, while american star Clint Dempsey was on target again as Fulham and West Brom drew 1-1 at Craven Cottage.