Premier League English

Mikel Arteta’s refusal to defend Arsenal players after Newcastle United shambolic performance

Mikel Arteta was adamant in refusing to defend his Gunners following their pathetic performance in the 2-0 defeat to Newcastle United on Monday evening, effectively putting Tottenham in the driving seat to qualify for a Champions League place next season as the loss at St James’ Park leaves them two points behind their north London rivals with one game remaining.

Arsenal will now host Everton on the final day, and would require Spurs to lose against Norwich City on Sunday to have any hope of finishing fourth in the Premier League.

Arteta however candidly admitted after the defeat to Newcastle that his side looked well short of looking like a Champions League team.

‘It’s a really tough night,’ Arteta said.

‘Normally, I can sit here and I can defend, but what we’ve done today, it’s not easy.

‘Newcastle were one hundred times better than us in every department from the beginning to the end and it’s hard to accept to accept, but you have to accept it and that’s the reality of what happened today on that pitch.

‘We knew [the significance of the game] but we didn’t cope with it.

‘We didn’t compete, we never got into the game, we put ourselves in trouble time after time, we lost every duel.

‘Every aspect of the game we were second best and Newcastle totally deserved to win the match, probably by a bigger margin as well.’

‘I am the maximum responsible [person] all the time. If somebody has created an expectation this year that no one in this room probably would talk about at the start of this season, it’s those players that are there.

‘I will always defend them. But tonight that’s a really, really difficult thing to do.’