Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has told his players to “swallow the poison” of a damaging defeat at Newcastle that left their Champions League dream hanging by a thread.
The Gunners went into Monday night’s Premier League clash at St James’ Park knowing that a win would put them on pole position to take a place in the top four ahead of arch-rivals Tottenham when they beat arch-rivals Tottenham on Sunday face Everton.
However, a 2-0 loss to Tyneside means their fate is not in their own hands as Spurs sit two points clear in fourth place with a far better goal difference and a single point at Norwich is likely enough to see them home bring to.
Arteta said: “We need to win and we need a loss for them. We know that’s always possible in football and when something happens you have to be okay [to take advantage].
🎙 Mikel shared his thoughts on the team’s performance tonight
🗞 Read his full interview below 👇
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) May 16, 2022
“Today you have to put your head down, swallow all the poison we’re all feeling, hopefully, and start all over again tomorrow.”
Arsenal knew exactly what was at stake but could never really take on a Magpies side who were backed by a roaring 52,274 crowd from the start.
Newcastle took the lead in the 55th minute through Ben White’s own goal and then consolidated the win as the once again extremely impressive Bruno Guimaraes extended their lead with his fifth goal since his £35m move from Lyon in January.
Arteta said: “I usually sit here, I can defend what we did. It’s not easy today. Newcastle were 100 times better than us in every department from start to finish and it’s very difficult to accept that.
“But that’s the reality of what happened on this pitch today.”
Gunners midfielder Granit Xhaka’s assessment was even more scathing.
He told Sky Sports: “We didn’t do what the game plan was and didn’t listen to the manager. We did our stuff and when you do your stuff, this happens.
“You don’t deserve to play in the Champions League, you don’t even deserve to play in the Europa League. It’s very hard to take and I don’t know why we don’t do what the coach asks us to do.
“We need people who have the guts to come here and play because we know this is one of our most important games. But a performance like this is unacceptable and very sad. I feel very sorry for the Arsenal supporters.”
Magpies boss Eddie Howe was understandably jubilant after what he described as his best performance since arriving at the club in November when relegation was a very real possibility.
Asked if he could have imagined the current situation – Newcastle go to Burnley on Sunday with a top-10 finish still a possibility – he said: “It probably could have gone better – of course it could have in certain games and can walk at certain moments .
“But if you had said looking back that that was going to be the result and that was how you would achieve divisional safety, certainly at some stages of a season, I would have been surprised if you had told me that would have happened. “
Geordie TV presenters Ant and Dec were among those who congratulated Howe and his players at the final whistle, much to the delight of the former Bournemouth manager.
He said: “They were so full of praise for the team and the work we’ve done, it was a really beautiful moment because it brings home how much everyone cares about Newcastle and how much it means that it’s the center of their lives much.”
https://www.independent.ie/sport/soccer/mikel-arteta-admits-its-not-easy-to-defend-arsenal-display-in-newcastle-loss-41656412.html Mikel Arteta admits defending Arsenal’s performance in the Newcastle defeat “isn’t easy”.