Soccer-We didn't deserve to be on the pitch - Xhaka blasts team mates


Soccer Football - Premier League - Newcastle United v Arsenal - St James' Park, Newcastle, Britain - May 16, 2022 Arsenal's Granit Xhaka looks dejected after Gabriel scores an own goal and Newcastle United's first REUTERS/Scott Heppell

NEWCASTLE, England (Reuters) - Arsenal's defeat by Newcastle United on Monday was a disaster and their players didn't deserve to be on the pitch, midfielder Granit Xhaka said in a remarkable rebuke of his team mates.

Arsenal were chasing a Champions League qualification spot, sitting two points behind fourth-placed Tottenham Hotspur (68), but were second best throughout in their 2-0 loss at St James' Park.

The hosts dominated the match and scored twice in the second half, first through a Ben White own goal and then a Bruno Guimaraes strike after the Arsenal defence was left flat-footed.

Xhaka did not hold back on what he thought of his side's performance, which leaves them hoping for a miracle on the final day to avoid a sixth successive season out of Europe's elite competition.

"It's difficult to find the right words. From the first minute to the 90th we didn't deserve to be on the pitch," the Swiss told Sky Sports.

"I can't explain to you why. We didn't do what the game plan was, not listening to the coach. What happened was a disaster performance. You don't deserve to play Champions League or even Europa League. It's very hard to take it at the moment.

"I don't know why we're not doing what the coach is asking for us."

The 29-year-old, who has had a turbulent time at Arsenal after being stripped of the captaincy in 2019, denied that inexperience in Mikel Arteta's squad was a problem.

"If someone isn't ready for this game, stay at home. It doesn't matter your age. If you're nervous, stay on the bench or stay at home. You need people to have the balls to come here and play. It's one of the most important games for us. We're feeling very disappointed for the people who came over here," he said.

"Sorry to them (the fans), I don't have any other words. The dressing room is very quiet. The game plan was totally different to what we did over 90 minutes."

"We are waiting for six years (to play in Champions League). We had everything in our hands."

Arteta's side host Everton, who are fighting against relegation, in their final game of the season on Sunday.

The only realistic way Arsenal can now snatch the final Champions League spot away from their north London rivals is if Spurs are beaten by already-relegated bottom side Norwich City on Sunday and Arteta's side defeat Everton as Tottenham have a far superior goal difference.

"Newcastle were 100 times better than us... In every department you have to earn the right to play and we didn't do it," Spaniard Arteta told the BBC.

"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."

(Reporting by Christian Radnedge; Editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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