Arsenal blew their chance to finish in the top four after a lacklustre performance against Newcastle United that ended in a defeat.
Newcastle United have nothing left to play for, and it showed in their free-flowing performance that downed Arsenal. The Magpies were the side who started the game on the front foot and ended in a superior fashion, as they stifled Arsenal’s attack and never allowed them into the match.
Arsenal had their fate in their own hands before this match and blew it to shreds with an atrocious performance nowhere near worthy of UEFA Champions League qualification. The Gunners needed two wins from their final games to seal the fourth spot but have handed the initiative to arch-rivals Tottenham heading into the final matchday of the season.
Newcastle began with a bang and never let Arsenal have any clear cut chances. Fabian Schar and Dan Burn kept things tight at the back, while Allan Saint-Maximin, Miguel Almiron and Callum Wilson pressed with plenty of intent upfront.
Then the Newcastle midfielders had a bite to the game to nullify Mohamed Elneny and Granit Xhaka’s influence in the centre. Arsenal never got a grip on the game barring a few moments as chances came at a premium. As the pressure piled in the second half, Newcastle swiftly attacked down the left through Joelinton. The Brazilian’s cross was met by Ben White under pressure from Wilson, with the final touch coming from the Arsenal defender.
"Not only did we beat Arsenal tonight, we 𝙙𝙚𝙨𝙚𝙧𝙫𝙚𝙙𝙡𝙮 beat them."
Eddie Howe says his side made the Premier League proud in yesterday's dominant win over Arsenal 👏pic.twitter.com/hPkAS52Lv5
— Sky Sports News (@SkySportsNews) May 17, 2022
Mikel Arteta made risky changes as he forced the team to attack and exposed his defence to more pressure. Even though Arsenal had plenty of attacking players on the pitch, it was Newcastle who continued to attack Aaron Ramsdale’s goal, and their effort got the reward as Bruno Guimaraes got his goal to finish the game off.
Arsenal now need a miracle on the final day of the season, and they will be eagerly hoping for Norwich City to record an improbable win over Tottenham. In addition, the Gunners will have to beat Everton to clinch the fourth spot. But as things stand, Arteta’s men will likely play Europa League football next season. Here are the player ratings from Newcastle’s win over Arsenal at St. James’ Park.
Martin Dubravka: 6/10
Dubravka only had to make a few routine stops and stay alert inside his box, as the Arsenal attackers did not have a great day. His command in the area was good, and he would be thankful to his defenders for doing an exceptional job.
Emil Krafth: 6/10
A comfortable evening for Krafth until Gabriel Martinelli got on the pitch. Emile Smith Rowe barely posed a threat, while the Swede easily read Tavares’s occasional runs and sniffed out any potential danger.
Fabian Schar: 6/10
It was a shame to see Schar leave the field with a knock on his head, as he was excellent in the first half. The Swiss defender soaked whatever pressure Arsenal had to offer and kept a tight lid on the movements of Martin Odegaard and Granit Xhaka.
Dan Burn: 7/10
What a signing Burn has been for Newcastle, and he epitomised the structure of their newfound defensive resilience. While the usual threat from set-pieces was somewhat lacking on Monday, Burn provided a great pass in the build-up to the second goal.
Matt Targett: 6.5/10
Targett was sometimes caught off guard by Bukayo Saka’s movement down on his side, but he was an effective outlet at the back. He performed his job well and kept things simple while providing support in the final third.
Sean Longstaff: 6.5/10
A combative presence in midfield. Longstaff played an important role in keeping the Arsenal midfielders quiet. There were some snappy tackles on display, but the Newcastle midfielder constantly broke up play and killed off the Gunners’ rhythm.
Bruno Guimaraes: 9/10
Bruno Guimarães' game by numbers vs. Arsenal:
73 touches (most)
49 passes (most)
12 passes into final third (most)
8 duels won (=most)
8 ball recoveries (=most)
3 tackles made
3 fouls won (most)
2 chances created
What could have been… pic.twitter.com/ChvLgxbLbg
— Squawka (@Squawka) May 16, 2022
Bruno Guimaraes seemed like a man on a mission to prove a point against Arsenal. He was terrific on the ball and showed plenty of intensity in his defensive duties. The late goal to kill the game off was a reward for the hard work he put on the pitch.
Joelinton proved again why he is Newcastle’s most improved player under Eddie Howe. Against Arsenal, the Brazilian physically imposed himself and immensely troubled the likes of Xhaka and Mohamed Elneny. His driving run down the left flank earned the opening goal.
Miguel Almiron: 6.5/10
Almiron has yet another good performance under his belt, as he put in a balanced shift in both phases of the game.
Callum Wilson: 6/10
Wilson did not seem like a player making his first start in 2022, as he was physically sharp and gave the Arsenal defenders a run for their money. Gabriel Magalhaes visibly struggled to contain him, and the striker’s pressure while running side by side with Ben White resulted in the opening goal.
Allan Saint-Maximin: 7/10
The winger provided the width for other players to join the attack and constantly troubled Takehiro Tomiyasu with his trickery and constant running with the ball. Saint-Maximin was instrumental in picking out Joelinton with the ball for the run in the build-up to the opening goal.
Allan Saint-Maximin completed as many take-ons as every other player on the pitch combined in the first half:
◉ 06': Dribbled past Nketiah
◉ 17': Dribbled past Tomiyasu
◉ 20': Dribbled past Ødegaard
◉ 30': Dribbled past Tomiyasu
◉ 35': Dribbled past Tomiyasu
Dancing. 🩰 pic.twitter.com/FSKw8gYAAs
— Squawka (@Squawka) May 16, 2022
Jamaal Lascelles: 5.5/10
Lascelles was not as influential as Schar but did a decent job at the back after replacing the Swiss international.
Jacob Murphy: 5/10
He wasted a great chance.
Ryan Fraser: 5/10
Fraser made a hash of a great two on one chance with Murphy alongside him, which should have been a goal.
Dwight Gayle: N/A
He barely had any time to impact the game.
Aaron Ramsdale: 4/10
Ramsdale seems to have lost his mojo of being a calming presence at the back, as he was nowhere near that. His distribution was terrible as the ball always went to a Newcastle player who recycled it and started a new attacking move. Three solid saves may have saved his face, but this was not worthy of big game performance.
Takehiro Tomiyasu: 4/10
Tomiyasu struggled against Saint-Maximin for pace and got constantly beaten by the Frenchman. Like the entire Arsenal side, the otherwise robust defender looked far from his solid self. He was withdrawn in the second half with a hamstring injury.
Ben White: 3.5/10
A night to forget for Ben White, who looked nervy from start to finish and made several mistimed errors that may have proved costly. His passing proved problematic, and some of his risky moves always came back to haunt him. He was under pressure from Wilson in the build-up to the opening goal before the defender tucked away Joelinton’s cross to score the own goal.
Ben White is the first player to score a goal for Newcastle against Arsenal since Mikel Arteta took charge of the club. 🙃
— Squawka (@Squawka) May 16, 2022
Gabriel Magalhaes: 5/10
Gabriel was a surprise starter aftermaking a quick recovery from his injury. But he did not last the whole game as Arteta sacrificed defensive solidity in search of goals. The Brazilian defender was involved in many shaky moments but finished his night making a few blocks.
Nuno Tavares: 5/10
Tavares should not just be remembered for the foul throw, as the left-back was not the problem on the evening. He defended well against Almiron and tried to get forward at every opportunity. Some of his runs caused problems for Newcastle. Arteta decided to take him off for Alexandre Lacazette when he got into good positions and impacted the game.
Mohamed Elneny: 3/10
Elneny produced his worst performance in the recent good run, with Newcastle overrunning him in midfield, meaning the Egyptian never played anything forwards. He was tidy for the most part, but constant pressure from the Newcastle midfielders harmed his game.
Granit Xhaka: 4/10
Newcastle forced the issue on Arsenal’s midfield from the start, which pushed Xhaka deeper in his territory and impacted his ability to progress the ball. The former Arsenal captain had no control over the midfield area and struggled with Newcastle’s high press.
Granit Xhaka is not happy 😬 pic.twitter.com/1Elt2WbsJG
— GOAL (@goal) May 16, 2022
Martin Odegaard: 3/10
If this game was a test of character, Odegaard failed to show he has the mentality to perform in a big game like this. He mustered just five passes in the first half, which showed why Arsenal were toothless in the attack, as those two things are co-related.
Bukayo Saka: 5/10
Bukayo Saka cannot influence games all by himself, and without Odegaard’s support, the winger was ineffective for the most part. He tried to make things happen from the wide areas, but beyond that, there is nothing he could have done without any meaningful support from his creative teammates or right-back.
🎙 Bukayo shared his thoughts after a disappointing night at St. James' Park
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) May 16, 2022
Eddie Nketiah: 5/10
Nketiah had the energy and stamina to run non-stop, but he kept chasing the ball without any meaningful purpose. He had a few decent opportunities but suffered without any service from those around him.
Emile Smith Rowe: 3/10
Smith Rowe never got into the game, and it was a surprise he even came out for the second period. Maybe it was a tactical mistake from Arteta to include him from the start, as Gabriel Martinelli would have been a more logical selection for a game like this.
Cedric Soares: 4/10
Cedric replaced the injured Tomiyasu, and he should have combined in his usual way with Saka and Odegaard. He did nothing worthwhile after coming on and floated around.
Gabriel Martinelli: 5/10
Martinelli immediately added a spark to the attack as Arsenal desperately searched for an equaliser. But some of his decision making from promising areas was dreadful, although he had more desire than any of his teammates.
Alexandre Lacazette: 3/10
Lacazette came on with a considerable period left to play and barely got a sniff of the ball. But the lack of service made his job difficult.
Nicolas Pepe: 3/10
A dreadful pass that could have cost Arsenal was Pepe’s only notable contribution after coming on.