When the decisive first goal went in early in the second half, Mikel Arteta simply turned and retreated to his dug out. A season’s work was fast disappearing down the drain and there was nobody left to blame but himself and his team.
Last Thursday it had apparently all been the referee’s fault as Arsenal flunked their first big European exam paper at Tottenham.
Not this time. No, this time it was all on those in yellow. With a season on the line here and with a place in the Champions League places up for grabs, Arsenal were simply tasteless. Weak of mind, body and spirit.
Mikel Arteta was dejected following his side’s devastating defeat to Newcastle in the Premier League on Monday evening
The Gunners put in a desperately disappointing display as their hopes of a top four finish took all but a fatal blow
Arsenal were second best for the entire game as Newcastle rose to the occasion in their final home game of the season
MATCH FACTS, PLAYER RATINGS AND PREMIER LEAGUE TABLES
NEWCASTLE (4-3-3): Dubravka 6; Krafth 6.5, Schar 6 (Lascelles 49min, 6), Burn 6, Targett 6.5; S Longstaff 7, Guimaraes 7.5, Joelinton 8; Almiron 7 (Murphy 76), Wilson 7 (Gayle 90), Saint-Maximin 6.5 (Fraser 77)
Scorers: White (og) 56, Guimaraes 85. Booked: None
Manager: Eddie Howe 7
ARSENAL (4-2-3-1):Ramsdale 5.5; Tomiyasu 5 (Cedric 39, 6), White 5.5, Gabriel 6 (Pepe 74, 6), Tavares 5.5 (Lacazette 62, 6); Elneny 6, Xhaka 6; Saka 6, Odegaard 6, Smith Rowe 5.5 (Martinelli 53, 6); Nketiah 5.5
Booked: White, Nketiah, Xhaka.
Manager: Mikel Arteta 5.
Referee: Darren England 6. Expectancy: 52.274.
- League Two
- Premier League
- League One
- League Two
- Scottish Premiership
- Scottish Div 1
- Scottish Div 2
- Scottish Div 3
- League 1
- Serie A
- La Liga
If Tottenham do as we would expect and avoid defeat at Norwich on Sunday, it is they who will finish fourth in the Premier League and Arsenal will look back on this night and wonder just how they could possibly play so badly.
Newcastle were the better team by the width of the Bigg Market. Their first goal was the one that killed Arsenal and came from the boot of visiting defender Ben White after they had coughed up possession with a foul throw. Yes, really.
But there could have been more goals than the one the Brazilian Bruno Guimaraes drove in at the death. Eddie Howe’s team, running free on confidence and optimism, were far too good, far too eager and far too brave for an Arsenal team that looked out of gas, out of courage and out of ideas. This has been a season of progression under Arteta and with shrewd summer investment and further development of young players, they may well improve further.
But this was a performance from the bad old days and what a time to produce it. Arsenal started badly and finished even worse. There was a period of about ten minutes midway through the first half when Arteta’s team could perhaps claim to have had a foothold in the game but that was it. For the other 80-odd minutes, they were chasing black and white shadows and not chasing them particularly eagerly either. There are some among this Arsenal team who should not be allowed to forget this abomination for a very long time.
Ben White turned Joelinton’s low cross into his own net under pressure from Callum Wilson in the second half
White’s own goal sent Arsenal on their way to a disastrous defeat which has all but ended their hopes of top-four
Newcastle players were jubilant after breaking the deadlock in the early stages of the second half at St James’ Park
Newcastle, it must be said, were so very good. They were everything that Arsenal were not and this performance was one to sum up everything that Eddie Howe has brought to this great club. To watch players such as the Brazilian Joelinton and the local lad Sean Longstaff boss this midfield was to see the product of good coaching and proper management of people. Howe’s work since succeeding Steve Bruce at St James Park has been outstanding and should be recognised.
Here in front of a home crowd that now comes to this stadium ready for a good time, Newcastle were the dominating force from the very first minute. Arsenal were passive and nervous and Newcastle were not.
Arsenal goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale almost had his pocket picked by Miguel Almiron and then saved from Longstaff. Before half time he also denied Allan Saint-Maximin low to his right while several other Newcastle raids saw the ball fly unopposed across the face of his goal.
Amid all of this, Arsenal looked like a team prepared to hang around and wait for something to happen. There was no one in Arteta’s team with the courage or wit to take hold of the game. If they thought the momentum of the game would change of its own accord or that Newcastle would tire then they were wrong and when the opening goal arrived in the 56th minute it had mishap written all over it.
Bruno Guimaraes doubles his side’s lead with five minutes of normal time remaining to seal the three points
Aaron Ramsdale and White were obviously distraught after conceding for a second time in a miserable game for Arsenal
Guimaraes ran over to celebrate in front of the Newcastle supporters after all but putting the game to bed late on
Defender Nuno Tavare’s failure to take a throw-in properly on the right touchline saw possession turned over needlessly and when the ball was switched to the other side Arsenal were soon in trouble. Joelinton’s dash down the line was rapid and his low, out swinging cross so devilishly delivered that White had to play at it. Callum Wilson was behind him and probably would have scored. Ultimately White did it for him and Arsenal now required two goals when a simple shot on goal had looked beyond them all night.
And that was the really strange thing about this Arsenal performance. A draw was never likely to be enough. They knew they had to win from the very moment Tottenham did so against Burnley on Sunday lunchtime. But they never looked or played as though they believed or understood that.
Once they were behind, Arteta made changes and threw forwards on. It was kitchen sink time, or at least it should have been. But the truth is that Arsenal never so much as turned on the taps. It was Newcastle who continued to push forwards and Wilson – twice – and Joelinton both missed very good chances before Bruno finished the contest off with five minutes left.
Amanda Staveley was absolutely delighted with the display, which kept Newcastle’s fine run of recent form going
The Magpies continued their brilliant second half to the season with a really impressive performance against the Gunners
Longstaff was the architect this time as he played Wilson in the penalty box with a cute chip. Ramsdale was out quickly to smother at the striker’s feet but the ball ran loose and Bruno drove it in to the net at the Gallowgate End to add a realistic hue to the score line.
It was raining by full-time and Arteta – dressed all in black – was soaked by the time the denouement arrived. The chances are that he will not have noticed. Misery can do that to a man.
Scroll down to see how it all unfolded with Sportsmail’s live runner.