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Arsenal 0 - Newcastle 2: pain


Newcastle United v Arsenal - Premier League Photo by Joe Prior/Visionhaus via Getty Images

The magic ran out. At the worst possible time. Arsenal looked totally out of gas in a 2-0 loss to Newcastle that takes Champions League qualification out of the Gunners’ control. They just didn’t have it today, and never really looked competitive in the match. It’s a bummer.

Ultimately, the combination of injuries, backups, and short rest (4 days for Arsenal, 8 for Newcastle), was too much to overcome. Arsenal were outplayed today, but I’m not going to join the considerable chorus of people upset with the performance. To my eye, it looked as if the players were giving all they had, and it just wasn’t enough.

Kudos to Ben White and Gabriel Magalhaes. They clearly weren’t 100% fit, and they toughed it out. Granit Xhaka gave it his all. Takehiro Tomiyasu, who also falls into the “fit enough, not fully fit” category, played until he had to come off with a hamstring problem. Even Martin Ødegaard, who I thought had a dreadful first half, looked like he was working hard and trying to make things happen. It just wasn’t happening today.

Arsenal ended the match with Cedric, Nicolas Pépé (who was awful, again), Alexandre Lacazette, Mohamed Elneny, and Eddie Nketiah on the pitch. All five of those players could reasonably not be with the club next season. I really don’t understand how people, in the fanbase and the media, can expect Arsenal to do much of anything with those guys on the pitch. They are backups for a reason. They aren’t good enough. It’s a ship being held together by scotch tape and a prayer. At some point, you’re going to take on more water than you can manage.

I was pleased that Aaron Ramsdale made some tremendous saves. I was starting to worry a bit about his form. On the other hand, his distribution was as poor as it has been all season, and it cost Arsenal. It cost the Gunners because his long clearances weren’t particularly accurate and because they don’t really have anybody who is going to consistently win contested aerial balls against defenders. I think he was also a bit rattled from an early slip on a clearance couple with Miguel Almiron nearly taking it off his foot for a cheap goal.

I don’t really think it’s worth going into too much more detail about the performances of specific players.

I think Tim Stillman put it best. I’ll paraphrase: ultimately Arsenal were undone because they had to ask too many squad players to do too much for too long.

We’ve seen what this bunch can do with the first-choice players available, and we’ve seen what happens when key players are missing. Hopefully another summer of spending addresses some of the depth issues.

It feels terrible to have been this close to Champions League football and fall short at the end (although all isn’t lost, there is still a faint hope - Spurs could still be Spursy). I keep reminding myself and I’ll remind y’all: our expectation for this side was 6th-8th. They’re going to finish 5th. The manner in which we got here stings, but if you step back, they’ve overperformed. Let’s hope to end the season on a high note at the Emirates against Everton.