Newcastle blow up Arsenal’s Champions League dream

Published May 18, 2022
NEWCASTLE-UPON-TYNE: Newcastle United’s Bruno Guimaraes (C) scores against Arsenal during their Premier League match at St James’ Park.—AFP
NEWCASTLE-UPON-TYNE: Newcastle United’s Bruno Guimaraes (C) scores against Arsenal during their Premier League match at St James’ Park.—AFP

NEWCASTLE: Mikel Arteta castigated his Arsenal side for throwing away a season’s work in a limp 2-0 defeat at Newcastle United in the Premier League that looks set to see the Gunners miss out on Champions League football for a sixth successive season.

An own goal from Ben White and then a late strike from January signing Bruno Guimaraes sealed the win for Newcastle and left Arsenal two points off Tottenham Hotspur in fourth in the standings with one game of the season remaining.

Thanks to their superior goal difference, Spurs will only need a point at already-relegated bottom side Norwich City on Sunday to qualify for Europe’s elite competition. Mikel Arteta’s side face his former team Everton at home at the same time.

Arsenal’s defeat also guaranteed third-place Chelsea’s place in the Champions League next season.

But the manner of the Newcastle performance was even more impressive as Eddie Howe’s men sent a message 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. A lot of things happened during the game, like substitutions for injuries, but it’s not an excuse because they were much better than us.

“We tried to change some things but it didn’t make it better. We had moments where we looked better but then the execution was so poor and the goals we gave away were extremely poor.”

Arteta’s men were in the driving seat with three games to go as they led Spurs by four points. But Tottenham’s 3-0 derby win on Thursday cranked up the pressure on the young Gunners who failed to respond.

“Newcastle were 10 times better than us and the performance was nowhere near what we need to play in the Champions League,” added Arteta. “We weren’t at the races.”

Only Manchester City and Liverpool have won more Premier League points than the Magpies in 2022 since they began to splash to wealth of the Saudi sovereign wealth fund in the transfer market.

More big money signings are expected to arrive at St. James’ Park in the coming months, but Arsenal’s budget in the transfer market could be severely dented by again missing out on the riches of the Champions League.

“It was a brilliant all-round performance. It was front foot, we never let up and that’s the most pleasing thing,” said Howe, whose side were in the bottom three at Christmas but have climbed up the table and only lost once at home in the league in 2022.

“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.”

Newcastle started brightly, roared on by their fans in their last home game of the season.

They dominated the match and came close to opening the scoring in the 37th minute through Allan Saint-Maximin, who cut in from the wing and jinked his way to the edge of area, but saw his low shot palmed away by goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale.

The breakthrough came shortly after halftime, however, when Joelinton powered down the left wing and sent in a low cross for striker Callum Wilson but it came off Arsenal defender White and into his own net.

The hosts had plenty of chances to double their lead and finally did in the 85th minute when Wilson ran through on goal but the ball ricocheted off Ramsdale into the path of Guimareas who side-footed it in.

The win, Newcastle’s first in the league over Arsenal since April 2018, means Howe’s side move up to 12th in the standings.

Published in Dawn, May 18th, 2022

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