Mikel Arteta misses rare opportunity after being granted an additional Arsenal substitute
Arsenal’s hopes of securing Champions League football were effectively ended with a top-four finish in Monday night’s 2-0 defeat by Newcastle
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Arsene Wenger was once mocked for claiming a place in the top four was like winning a trophy for Arsenal.
After five seasons without Champions League football, anyone associated with the Gunners would be desperate to fictionally lift that silverware. But after Monday night’s crushing defeat by Newcastle United, the chances of them making it are slim to zero.
Less than a week ago, Mikel Arteta’s side had great chances to finish ahead of Tottenham, knowing that a win against their north London rivals would have sealed a top-four finish. Just five days and two dismal losses, their hopes are in shambles.
Spurs need a point against already relegated Norwich City to secure their place in Europe’s top competition, while Arsenal have to compete in the Europa League. Arsenal not only need snooker, they need a miracle now and as Jamie Carragher diplomatically noted there is not a person in world football who thinks they will now.
In a season that promised so much, Mikel Arteta could spend a summer doing an autopsy on what went wrong, first in north London and then in the north east. Arteta had excuses against Spurs, Ben White’s absence was atrocious, a questionable penalty and Rob Holding’s unnecessary red card. Against Newcastle, however, they were simply beaten by the better team.
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And that’s despite Arteta being offered a unique opportunity rarely offered to Premier League managers this season. After suffering a concussion in Toon defender Fabian Schar, both teams were able to provide a fourth substitute.
Arteta had already used his traditional three, bringing on Cedric Soares for the injured Takehiro Tomiyasu and forwards Gabriel Martinelli and Alexandre Lacazette. Those three subs had no effect, but the Spaniard still had an ace up his sleeve – an additional change he wouldn’t normally have been granted.
The Gunners boss gambled – by knocking out Gabriel and replacing him with the frustratingly inconsistent Nicolas Pepe. Back then, the guests needed two goals in 17 minutes to keep their Champions League fate in their own hands.
Arsenal might have struggled, but they still had a chance for a puncher. But when Arsenal returned to a back three, a risky experiment quickly backfired.
Newcastle had already fired a warning shot when Jacob Murphy missed a chance in a one-on-one with the keeper. That opportunity came when Pepe gave up possession, one of his only noticeable effects in a memorable cameo.
And how fitting that it was Bruno Guimares who effectively ended Arsenal’s Champions League streak after deciding against a move to the Gunners in January. In the difficult period, Newcastle could turn to their wonderfully talented Ligue 1 export – and he delivered, Arsenal did the same and he didn’t. For all the months of self-reflection that are surely on their way now, this simple fact will sting more than any other.
https://www.mirror.co.uk/sport/football/news/mikel-arteta-arsenal-mistake-newcastle-26982029 Mikel Arteta misses rare opportunity after being granted an additional Arsenal substitute