Football Features

“Arsenal have gone all Spursy” — Gunners prove the architects of their own downfall as they slip up in top-four race

By Ben Green

Published: 22:43, 16 May 2022

Advantage Tottenham in the Premier League’s frantically-paced race for Champions League football as Arsenal produced one of their worst performances of the season to slip up 2-0 at Newcastle.

The Gunners headed to Tyneside knowing only a win would have been enough to leapfrog their bitter North London adversaries, looking for an immediate response following their 3-0 collapse in last week’s much-anticipated derby.

However, Eddie Howe’s men looked like they were the side chasing a spot in Europe’s premier competition, racing out of the blocks with the bit between their teeth and placing immediate pressure on Mikel Arteta’s backline.

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Club Sky Bet
Man City 1/100
Liverpool 1/66
Arsenal 1/16
Aston Villa 10/11
Tottenham 1/1
Chelsea 12/1
Brighton 16/1
Newcastle 16/1
Man United 18/1
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A defence patched together by returning first-teamers, not least Ben White, looked all at sea as a swarm of black and white shirts engulfed them from the off, forcing them into mistakes, unwarranted fouls and eventually culminating in Takehiro Tomiyasu coming off injured — the pace of the game was frightening.

The Gunners struggled to put together anything resembling a fluid passing rhythm. Indeed they finished this match having taken under 500 touches; only against Manchester City — both home and away — have they endured a similar misfortune.

The breakthrough eventually came through an own goal from White. A 12-hour drought for Newcastle against the Gunners ended by an Arsenal player. You couldn’t make it up. Joelinton, on the day he was named Newcastle’s Player of the Year, proved the source of inspiration as his cross inadvertently came off White.

Arsenal tried to press and probe as they scrambled for an equaliser, but their efforts were subdued by the Magpies, who continued to keep the intensity at a maximum — and they eventually doubled their advantage at the death, with another Brazilian coming to the fore.

January recruit Bruno Guimaraes found himself with the goal at his mercy after a penalty-box scramble and he duly tucked into the back of the net to cue bedlam for Tottenham fans watching on the TV, ecstasy for the home fans at St. James’ Park, and crippling despair for the travelling Gunners.

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It was a performance so out of kilter with Arsenal’s recent form under Arteta, and one that may have just cost them Champions League football — at the expense of their great rivals no less. “Arsenal have gone all Spursy,” former Tottenham forward Gary Lineker tweeted after the match.

It’s a performance that will now haunt Arsenal for the rest of time if Tottenham go on to secure the top four. Indeed this game will live long in infamy, particularly as they proved the architects of their own downfall.

Arsenal have now taken on more foul throw-ins than any other club this season (six), scored an own goal through the convalescing White — only Arsenal’s second own goal against Newcastle after Martin Keown in 1994 — managed to have under 500 touches against a side that wasn’t Man City, and endured Newcastle’s first win against a club in the top five this campaign.

It was diabolically bad at a time when Arsenal needed to turn up.