The wheels have come off. With top four on the line and Spurs having won their match against Burnley, Arsenal went to Newcastle requiring a victory. Instead, a team full of inexperience and inability finally hit a wall as they succumbed to a 2-0 defeat. An own goal by Ben White and a practically inevitable score by Bruno Guimaraes leaves Arsenal in fifth entering the final matchday. Barring a loss by Spurs to one of the worst sides ever to feature in the Premier League, Arsenal’s Champions League hopes are now assuredly over. Below are three Hits and three Misses from a disastrous day.
After perhaps looking relatively quiet in his last couple appearances, Saka was the liveliest player on the pitch for Arsenal on Monday. He was involved in his side’s most dangerous moments, taking four shots — the most of any Arsenal player — and finishing with one of the team’s two shots on target. Unfortunately, the 20-year-old could not drag Arsenal back into the game. Now, his main goal on Sunday will probably be to avoid a serious injury.
Tavares is a player whom Arteta has not trusted in these crucial weeks of the season, and for good reason. However, the young Portuguese full-back looked like one of the team’s best players at Newcastle. Unlike most of his teammates, he played with energy, running hard and defending well enough. Despite his foul throw leading to Newcastle’s second goal, he was unlucky to be subbed off. In a critical game, he put in a good performance.
Yes, he turned in an own goal. But outside of that, he actually defended quite decently and was another one of Arsenal’s better players on the day. And more importantly, he played and gave everything he had in a crucial match when his side needed him. He did so without having trained and while clearly still carrying an injury. White has mistakes to iron out of his game, but he has a terrific mentality and will become a better and better player.
From the first minute, Ramsdale transmitted fear and uncertainty. While he did make some great saves, he also flapped at the ball a couple times and looked consistently nervous. Furthermore, his distribution was lacking, with the English keeper constantly looking to launch the ball down the pitch. With no one who could win duels against Newcastle’s defenders, this effectively amounted to handing possession back to the Magpies on a regular basis. All in all, Ramsdale had a poor showing that was the culmination of a lackluster back end of the season.
After a weeks-long Cinderella story, Elneny turned back into a pumpkin on Monday. The Egyptian found himself swamped in midfield, overrun by Joelinton and Guimaraes time and time again. He also had some bad giveaways and took two shots that each reeked of desperation. It was not that long ago that his heroics had spurred debates about giving him a new contract, but now he looks like yet another player Arsenal should usher out the back door this summer.
The moment Cedric replaced an injured Takehiro Tomiyasu, one could not be blamed for feeling their heart plummet into their stomach. After all, such a feeling would have been quickly justified. Cedric played a starring role in both of Newcastle’s goals, ending up far out of position for the first one and playing Callum Wilson onside in the buildup to their second. The Portuguese veteran has become an utter liability and cost the club in some key moments. He too needs to be moved on in the offseason.
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