August 19, 2022

“If somebody is not ready for this game, stay at home.”

Granit Xhaka pulled no punches after Arsenal blew their best chance of a Champions League return in years by losing a must-win game at Newcastle on Monday night, accusing his teammates of not listening to instructions.

Having lost to Tottenham in last week’s north London derby and seen Spurs win again against Burnley at the weekend, Mikel Arteta’s side had to take all three points at St James’ Park to move back into the top four ahead of their final game of the season at home to Everton.

Instead, they turned in a nervy display, losing 2-0 after an own-goal from Ben White and a late effort from Bruno Guimaraes saw Newcastle clinch victory.

The result leaves them two points behind their local rivals, who face already-relegated Norwich City at Carrow Road in their final game. Spurs’ vastly superior goal difference means that they effectively need just a point to secure qualification for the Champions League at Arsenal’s expense.

Xhaka said Arsenal don’t deserve Champions League

“From the first minute until 90 minutes we didn’t deserve to be on the pitch today,” the Swiss international said during an interview with Sky Sports.

Asked why his team had turned in such a below-par performance in a game of such importance, Xhaka said he couldn’t explain it – but admitted the team had not followed Arteta’s instructions during the game.

“We didn’t do what the game plan was. We were not listening to the coach, doing our own things – and when you do your things, these things happen.

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“What happened was a disaster. With a performance like this you don’t deserve to play Champions League – you don’t deserve to even play Europa League.

“It’s very hard to take at the moment. I do not know why we are not doing what the coach is asking us.”

Xhaka refused to blame Arsenal’s inexperience

Asked if the performance was down to the inexperience of a young Arsenal team, Xhaka said: “If somebody is not ready for this game, stay at home. It’s as simple as that.

“It doesn’t matter the age. You can be 30, 35, ten, 18. If you’re not ready for that, you’re nervous, stay on the bench or stay at home and don’t come here.

“We need people that have the balls to come here and play. It’s maybe one of the most important games for us and a performance like this is not acceptable.”

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