Newcastle shreds Arsenal’s CL hopes, but…

by Oviri Kelvin, Sports Editor, Abuja

Newcastle United crashed the hope of Arsenal featuring in next year’s UEFA Champions League with a 2-0 win at St James’ Park on Monday.

Arsenal are in contention with fellow North London side, Tottenham, for the top-four place on the Premier League table and were a point above Antonio Conte’s team.

However, the outcome of the North London derby between Gunners and Spurs saw the latter leapfrog the former after a crumbling 3-0 win at the Tottenham Stadium.

Although Sky Sports pundit and former Manchester United defender, Gary Neville, earlier posited that Tottenham looks more likely to finish ahead of Arsenal at the end of the season.

Ben White’s own-goal and Bruno Guimaraes’s strike finally dealt a heavy blow to Mikel Arteta’s hopes of qualifying Arsenal for the Champions League after five seasons without a taste of European clubs’ most revered tournament.

The result handed Tottenham the golden opportunity, after being out of the Champions League event for two seasons, to feature once again amongst Europe’s best.

Realistically, a top-four finish is Tottenham’s to lose. With two points ahead of Arsenal and an insurmountable goals difference of 14, Conte needs at least a draw in their last fixture against Norwich City at Carrow Road to cap their season with a Champions League qualification.

Meanwhile, Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has whimpered over Arsenal’s loss admitting that the club was nowhere near the level if they wanted to play in the Champions League.

He said, during a post-match interaction with the media, “It was a really difficult night to swallow.

“Newcastle deserved to win the match comfortably, they were much better than us from the beginning to the last minute. We had nothing in the game.

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“They were much better in every department. We were poor with the ball. A lot of things happened during the night, with the substitutions we had to make through injuries, but it’s not an excuse. Newcastle deserved to win the match,” Arteta added.

Arsenal still has a slim chance of scaling through to the next season’s Champions League but it depends on a win at the Emirates Stadium against relegation-battling Everton with a corresponding defeat of Tottenham by Norwich City at Carrow Road.

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