Arsenal's top-four hopes all but ended by Newcastle

Mikel Arteta admits his Gunners side 'didn’t cope' and 'lost every duel' following 2-0 defeat at St James' Park

Monday, 16th May — By Steve Barnett


Premier League

NEWCASTLE 2 (White 55 og, Guimaraes 85)

MIKEL Arteta admitted that his players couldn’t handle the pressure after Arsenal’s season was all but ended by Newcastle this evening (Monday).

The Gunners knew that only a win would see them move back above Tottenham into fourth in the Premier League, and put them in the driving seat to secure a Champions League spot heading into their final game of the season against Everton on Sunday.

And yet Arteta’s side put in one of their poorest performances of a stuttering campaign at St James’ Park as Ben White’s second-half own goal and Bruno Guimaraes’ late strike condemned them to a 2-0 defeat.

“We knew [what was at stake], but we didn’t cope with it,” acknowledged Arteta after the final whistle. “We didn’t compete, we never got into the game, we put ourselves in trouble time after time, and we lost every duel.

“Every aspect of the game we were second best and Newcastle totally deserved to win the match, probably by a bigger margin as well.”

Arsenal were indeed second best throughout. Having dominated from the first whistle, Newcastle finally took the lead early in the second half when White turned the ball into his own net under pressure from Callum Wilson.

The Magpies piled on more misery in the final minutes. Aaron Ramsdale dived at Wilson’s feet in a desperate attempt to keep Arsenal in the game, but the ball fell kindly for Guimaraes, who drove home into an empty net.

Arsenal could, and probably should, have lost by a bigger margin. In the first half Allan Saint-Maximin brought the best out in an otherwise nervous looking Ramsdale, who had to react smartly to stop the Newcastle forward from beating him at his near post.

Wilson was also a constant threat, and in the second half almost scored a contender for goal of the season – the striker going agonisingly close with a brilliant volley from at least 40-yards that beat the stranded Ramsdale only to drop just wide of the far post.

Arsenal, meanwhile, offered next to nothing: a tame 25-yard effort from Mohamed Elneny the only time Martin Dubravka in the Newcastle goal had to get his gloves dirty.

Less than two weeks ago the Gunners boasted a four-point lead over Tottenham with just three games to play, but now they face missing out on the top four for a sixth successive season.

That is unless there’s a miracle at Carrow Road on Sunday and Norwich beat Tottenham, and – in what feels like an even bigger miracle for Arteta’s abject side – Arsenal beat Everton at the Emirates.

After what was Arsenal’s 13th league defeat of the season, Arteta added: “When you see the team we have at the moment there are a lot of question marks in a lot of different positions, because of the injuries and suspensions we had. But it is not an excuse. Today we weren’t at the races.”

Newcastle: Dubravka, Krafth, Burn, Schar (Lascelles, 49), Targett, Longstaff, Guimaraes, Joelinton, Almiron (Murphy, 76), Wilson (Gayle, 90+4), Saint-Maximin (Fraser, 77)
Substitutes not used: Darlow, Dummett, Ritchie, Trippier, Fernandez

Arsenal: Ramsdale, Tavares, White, Gabriel (Pepe, 73), Tomiyasu (Cedric, 39), Odegaard, Elneny, Xhaka, Saka, Nketiah, Smith Rowe (Martinelli, 53)
Substitutes not used: Leno, Lacazette, Sambi Lokonga, Swanson, Patino, Salah-Eddine

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