Arsenal show pains Mikel Arteta
Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta tore into his side after their 0-2 Premier League defeat at Newcastle United on Monday, saying their performance was nowhere near the level needed to play in the Champions League.
A Ben White own goal and a late strike from Bruno Guimaraes sealed the victory for Newcastle and left Arsenal two points off fourth-placed north London rivals Tottenham Hotspur with one game remaining.
“It’s extremely disappointing that Newcastle were 10 times better than us and the performance was nowhere near the level we need to be at if we want to play in the Champions League,” Arteta told Sky Sports. “It’s a very painful one. It was in our hands and today (Monday) it’s not in our hands.”
The Spaniard, who endured a bad start to the campaign before guiding them into contention for a spot in Europe’s elite club competition, said he was ultimately responsible for their failures on the pitch. “I’m responsible all the time,” Arteta told reporters later when asked if he felt let down by his players.
“If there’s someone who has created an expectation this year that no one at the start of the season would talk about, it is those players and I will always defend them. But tonight, that’s really difficult to do.”
The defeat was a disaster and Arsenal players didn’t deserve to be on the pitch, midfielder Granit Xhaka said in a remarkable rebuke of his teammates. “It’s difficult to find the right words. From the first minute to the 90th we didn’t deserve to be on the pitch,” the Swiss told Sky Sports.
“I can’t explain to you why. We didn’t do what the game plan was, not listening to the coach. What happened was a disaster performance. You don’t deserve to play Champions League or even Europa League. It’s very hard to take it at the moment.
“I don’t know why we’re not doing what the coach is asking for us.”
With their vastly inferior goal difference, Arsenal must beat Everton on Sunday and hope relegated Norwich City upset Spurs at home to pip them to fourth place.
“There’s always a tiny chance in football,” Arteta said. The 29-year-old, who has had a turbulent time at Arsenal after being stripped of the captaincy in 2019, denied that inexperience in Arteta’s squad was a problem.
“If someone isn’t ready for this game, stay at home. It doesn’t matter your age. If you’re nervous, stay on the bench or stay at home. You need people to have the balls to come here and play. It’s one of the most important games for us. We’re feeling very disappointed for the people who came over here,” he said.
“Sorry to them (the fans), I don’t have any other words. We are waiting for six years (to play in Champions League). We had everything in our hands.”
Arteta’s side host Everton, who are fighting against relegation, in their final game of the season on Sunday.
The only realistic way Arsenal can now snatch the final Champions League spot away from their north London rivals is if Spurs are beaten by Norwich City on Sunday and Arteta’s side defeat Everton.