Arsenal have not been in Europe’s premier club competition since 2017 and last season, they did not play in any European competition for the first time in over two decades. While they have reset the clock by securing a spot in the UEFA Europa League next season, their aim of getting back to the Champions League has virtually been defeated with their loss to a determined Newcastle United side.
The Magpies were playing for nothing but their pride, having lost to Arsenal seventeen times out of the last nineteen games. They have already secured their Premier League future after a topsy-turvy season that was spent mostly in a relegation battle.
While Arsenal showed almost no urgency or no drive to win, the Magpies, in front of their new owners, passionate fans and celebrity supporters, did all they can to show their growth under new manager Eddie Howe, who described the match as the best he has managed since taking up the role.
Arsenal manager, Mikel Arteta, on the other hand, cut a distraught figure for more than half of the game as he had no plans on how to get his team firing.
Speaking after the game to Sky Sports, the former Manchester City assistant manager said: “It was a really difficult night to swallow. Newcastle deserved to win the match comfortably, they were much better than us from the beginning to the last minute. We had nothing in the game.
“They were much better in every department. We were poor with the ball. A lot of things happened during the night, with the substitutions we had to make through injuries, but it’s not an excuse. Newcastle deserved to win the match.”
The Spanish manager also admitted that he could see the errors from the start of the game but his men were unable to implement the in-game changes he tried to make. He also told Sky Sports that he has expressed his disappointment to his team, while stating clearly that his team selection may have also contributed to the issue.
“[I told my players] I’m extremely disappointed,” he said. “That Newcastle were 10 times better than us and fully deserved the match. The performance was nowhere near the level if we want to play in the Champions League.
“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.”
He continued: “We tried to change some things, but the execution was so poor and the goals we gave away were extremely poor. That’s what we have to think about. It’s true that we could not cope with the game we had to play here.”
Like every manager in these types of situations, Arteta also tried to rally his team and the fans to get behind them ahead of their last fixture against Everton. However, their North London rivals Tottenham Hotspur, with whom they are in a top four race, have Norwich City on the last day which makes it very unlikely that they regain the fourth spot.