Granit Xhaka questioned whether some of his team-mates had the courage to compete at Newcastle after Arsenal’s Champions League hopes were severely dented at St James’ Park.
Tottenham sit fourth heading into the final day and hold a two-point over Arsenal, who lost 2-0 at Newcastle on Monday night.
Arsenal could have sealed fourth with a victory at Spurs last Thursday, but now the Gunners must beat Everton this Sunday and hope their north London rivals lose at relegated Norwich.
“It’s difficult to find the right words. From the first minute to the 90th we didn’t deserve to be on the pitch,” Arsenal midfielder Xhaka told Sky Sports.
“I can’t explain to you why. We didn’t do what the game plan was, not listening to the coach. What happened was a disaster performance. You don’t deserve to play Champions League or even Europa League. It’s very hard to take it at the moment.
“I don’t know why we’re not doing what the coach is asking for us.”
Asked about Arsenal’s young squad, Xhaka added: “If someone isn’t ready for this game, stay at home. It doesn’t matter your age. If you’re nervous, stay on the bench or stay at home. You need people to have the balls to come here and play. It’s one of the most important games for us. We’re feeling very disappointed for the people who came over here.
“We are waiting for six years. We had everything in our hands. We looked like we were in the position where Newcastle are and they were where we are.”
A dejected Mikel Arteta admitted his Arsenal side were totally outclassed at Newcastle.
“It was a really difficult night to swallow,” Arteta told Sky Sports. “Newcastle deserved to win comfortably, they were much better from the beginning to the last minute and we had nothing in the game.
“They were much better in every department, in the duels, in the second balls… we were poor with the ball… we had nothing in the game.
“We had a substitution we had to make due to injury but it’s no excuse, Newcastle deserved to win the match because they were much better than us in everything.”
Arteta said it was “painful” to concede the top-four race is now out of Arsenal’s hands.
“It’s true we could not cope tonight with the game we had to play here,” Arteta added.
“We tried to change some things and it didn’t make it better. We had some moments where it looked a little better and the start of the second half we looked a tiny bit better and we understood what we had to do but the execution was so poor. The goals we gave away were extremely poor and they deserved to win.
“It’s extremely disappointing, Newcastle were 10 times better than us and fully deserved the match. The performance is nowhere near the level that we have to play if we want to play in the Champions League.
“I am incredibly disappointed. When you see the team we have at the moment there are a lot of question marks in a lot of positions because of injuries and suspension and everything we had, but that was no excuse.
“It’s a very painful one. It was in our hands, today it is not in our hands. We have to beat Everton and have to wait for Norwich to beat Spurs. There’s always a chance in football and you have to be there just in case that chance appears.”
NEVILLE: I NEVER TRUSTED ARSENAL
On March 15, Arsenal sat fourth with games in hand over their rivals below them, but six defeats in 11 Premier League games have handed Spurs the advantage.
Speaking on Monday Night Football afterwards, former England and Manchester United defender Gary Neville said he “never trusted” Arsenal, with Jamie Carragher admitting the Gunners may never get a better chance to finish fourth.
“I gave them the benefit of the doubt at half time,” Neville said. “That is a young team, inexperienced, that doesn’t have the experience or the character. I never fully trusted them to get into the top four, to be honest with you, all the way through. But I thought they would come out in the second half and respond. It tells us where they are at.”
Carragher added: “I think that is a problem not just this season but I think it is a huge problem for Mikel Arteta and this Arsenal team going forward.
“Europa League next season, Thursday, Sunday. I think they have had their opportunity this season – a big one – having no European football. That was a big advantage for them.
“They are not in the four best sides in the country but they had an advantage on the other teams and they still haven’t made it pay. I fear for Arsenal and Mikel Arteta next season. That is a really bad one tonight.”