Bukayo Saka admits he ‘just can’t believe’ how poorly Arsenal played in their costly Premier League defeat to Newcastle United.
Despite last week’s north London derby defeat, Arsenal’s top-four hopes were still in their hands ahead of Monday’s trip to St James’ Park.
Wins against Newcastle last night and Everton on Sunday would have seen Arsenal secure Champions League football and finish above Spurs for the first time in six years.
But Mikel Arteta’s side were beaten 2-0 by the Magpies and are now reliant on an unlikely slip-up from Tottenham against bottom-placed Norwich City to have any hope of finishing in the top four.
Given Spurs’ superior goal difference, Tottenham require just a point at Carrow Road to clinch the final top-four spot and Saka insists it is a ‘shame’ that Arsenal have wilted at this key part of the season.
‘Overall there is huge disappointment and frustration. I just can’t believe how we performed today,’ a dejected Saka said after Arsenal’s defeat.
‘We lost all our duels. We lost all the second balls. We didn’t play out well. Just overall disappointment in every aspect.
‘I think it’s going to hurt a lot of us tonight. You know, all of us, the fans – all of our families.
‘But come Sunday against Everton at the Emirates we’re going to be there to win, and hopefully things go our way. That’s all you can do from now.
‘Technically it’s not over, we can still do it, but we’ve missed out on two big opportunities to put ourselves in a good position. So it’s just a shame.’
Arteta, who signed a contract extension at Arsenal earlier this month, admitted his side were second best at St James’ Park as Newcastle continued their fine run under Eddie Howe to climb to 12th in the Premier League.
‘It’s incredibly disappointing,’ Arteta said. ‘The way we started to the finish, Newcastle were better.
‘They deserved to win by a mile. It’s a really difficult one to accept. We have to cope with those nights [including the defeat by Spurs] and we didn’t cope with those nights.
‘We haven’t been able to deal with situations throughout the season. The squad suffered a lot with injuries but that can’t be an excuse.
‘Newcastle were 100 times better than us. The way we competed today [was disappointing]. In every department you have to earn the right to play and we didn’t do it.
‘We have to put our head down and accept the performance was nowhere near the standard required for the Champions League. From tomorrow we’ll prepare for Everton. It’s still mathematically possible.’