Granit Xhaka: Arsenal players didn’t deserve to be on the pitch

The midfielder suggested some Arsenal players had lacked ‘the balls’ to compete under pressure

Tom Kershaw
Monday 16 May 2022 22:57
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<p>Granit Xhaka reacts during Arsenal’s defeat</p>

Granit Xhaka reacts during Arsenal’s defeat

Granit Xhaka suggested Arsenal didn’t deserve to play European football at all next season after a disastrous defeat against Newcastle left their top-four hopes in tatters.

Arsenal headed to St James’ Park knowing only victory would keep them ahead of Tottenham but Mikel Arteta’s side crumbled under the pressure as Bruno Guimaraes capped an emphatic victory for the home side.

The result means Arsenal’s only hope of snatching fourth rests on long-relegated Norwich defeating Spurs on the final day of the season.

“It’s so difficult to find the right words after the game,” Xhaka told Sky Sports. “We came here to show a different game but from the first minute until the 90th minute, we didn’t deserve to be on the pitch today.

“I don’t know [why we played so poorly]. We didn’t do what the gameplay was, we didn’t listen to the coach, and this is what happened. It was a disaster performance and we don’t deserve to play Champions League, even to play Europa League, and it’s very hard to take at the moment. I don’t know why we aren’t doing what the coach is asking from us.”

Asked if Arsenal’s lack of experience had shown, with the club averaging the youngest starting eleven this season by some distance, Xhaka said that fact was irrelevant.

“If someone isn’t ready for this game stay at home. It doesn’t matter the age… If you’re not ready, if you’re nervous, stay on the bench, stay at home, don’t come here. We need people to have the balls to come here and to play because we knew this game is one of the most important for us. With a performance like this, it’s not acceptable, it’s very sad for us, very disappointing and I feel very sorry for Arsenal supporters.”

Arteta was similarly critical of his players, labelling the goals they conceded “extremely poor”, and he admitted their performance was a long way off that of a Champions League side.

“It was a really difficult night to swallow,” he said. “Newcastle deserved to win the match comfortably. They were much better than us from the beginning to the last minute and we had nothing in the game.

“We tried to change some things, but it did not make it better. The goals we gave away were extremely poor.

“The performance was nowhere near the level we have to play in the Champions League. It’s a very painful one.”

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