Soccer-Fuming Arteta struggles to defend players after Newcastle defeat

Soccer Football - Premier League - Newcastle United v Arsenal - St James' Park, Newcastle, Britain - May 16, 2022 Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta before the match REUTERS/Scott Heppell

(Reuters) - Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta tore into his side after their 2-0 Premier League defeat at Newcastle United on Monday, saying their performance was nowhere near the level needed to play in the Champions League.

A Ben White own goal and a late strike from Bruno Guimaraes sealed the victory for Newcastle and left Arsenal two points off fourth-placed north London rivals Tottenham Hotspur with one game remaining.

"It's extremely disappointing that Newcastle were 10 times better than us and the performance was nowhere near the level we need to be at if we want to play in the Champions League," Arteta told Sky Sports.

"It's a very painful one. It was in our hands and today it's not in our hands."

The Spaniard, who endured a bad start to the campaign before guiding them into contention for a spot in Europe's elite club competition, said he was ultimately responsible for their failures on the pitch.

"I'm responsible all the time," Arteta told reporters later when asked if he felt let down by his players.

"If there's someone who has created an expectation this year that no one at the start of the season would talk about, it is those players and I will always defend them.

"But tonight, that's really difficult to do."

With their vastly inferior goal difference, Arsenal must beat Everton on Sunday and hope relegated Norwich City upset Spurs at home to pip them to fourth place.

"There's always a tiny chance in football," Arteta said.

(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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