Newcastle delivers a big blow to Arsenal’s top 4 hopes

Mikel Arteta chastised his Arsenal team for squandering a season’s worth of work in a 2-0 defeat at Newcastle that seems set to see the Gunners miss out on Champions League football for the sixth time in a row.

Tottenham stay in fourth place in the Premier League, two points ahead of their north London rivals. Spurs now have a genuine chance of finishing in the top four with a draw away to already-relegated Norwich on Sunday, thanks to their better goal difference.

Arsenal’s defeat also ensured Chelsea’s participation in the Champions League next season.

Ben White’s own goal and Bruno Guimaraes’ late strike separated the teams.

But the way in which Newcastle performed was even more astonishing, as Eddie Howe’s players issued a message that they could be challenging for a top-four finish themselves next season.

“A really difficult night to swallow,” said Arteta. “Newcastle deserved to win comfortably. They were much better from the first minute, we had nothing in the game.

“They were much better than us in everything that a football match requires. We could not cope tonight with the game we had to play here.”

Story of the match

If Tottenham avoids defeat at Norwich on Sunday, they will finish fourth in the Premier League, whereas Arsenal will look back on this night and wonder how they could have played so poorly.

By the width of the Big Market, Newcastle was the superior team. Their first goal was the game-winner, coming off the boot of visiting defender Ben White after Arsenal had gave up possession with a foul throw. Yes, truly.

Eddie Howe’s players, brimming with confidence and hope, were much too good, far too hungry, and far too bold for an Arsenal team that appeared to be out of gas, courage, and ideas.

Arsenal began poorly and finished significantly worse. Arteta’s team enjoyed a ten-minute span midway through the first half when they could claim to have a foothold in the game, but that was it.

They spent the remaining 80 minutes chasing black and white shadows, and not particularly happily. Some members of this Arsenal team should not be allowed to forget this obscenity for a long time.

“It was a brilliant all-round performance. It was front foot, we never let up and that’s the most pleasing thing,” said Howe.

“We have to improve and work incredibly hard to improve everything about the team over the summer. It’s a massive club, we have big ambitions, but I have to focus on how we do it rather than talk.”

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