Gambles come back to haunt Arteta's Arsenal

Arsenal goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale makes a save from Newcastle United's Joelinton at St. James' Park

Arsenal goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale makes a save from Newcastle United's Joelinton at St. James' Park - Credit: PA

Arsenal’s gambles have come back to haunt them in the race for a Champions League place.

After two disastrous defeats in the space of a week, it appears Arsenal’s hopes of playing in European football's elite club competition next season is all but over, bar a miracle on the final day of the Premier League campaign.

Losses to Tottenham and Newcastle saw the Gunners squander a five-point lead, with their squad-building gambles playing a factor in the costly defeats.

Arsenal's Eddie Nketiah (left) and Newcastle United's Bruno Guimaraes battle for the ball

Arsenal's Eddie Nketiah (left) and Newcastle United's Bruno Guimaraes battle for the ball - Credit: PA

Regardless of what happens on Sunday, it is important to recognise this has been a season of progress for Arsenal.

The relationship between the team and the fans as good as it’s been in years and the performances on the pitch, at times, have given us a glimpse of what the club hopes to become. 

But ultimately, the inexperienced and thin squad which played a significant role in Arsenal’s improvement, has now proved detrimental at the final hurdle. 

Against Tottenham last Thursday the team came out strong, asserting themselves in the opening quarter of an hour and taking the game to their rivals, before a few controversial decisions resulted in the players losing their heads.

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Against Newcastle on Monday, the team did not show up. Looking nervy and tired, the Gunners were outdone in every aspect, with Granit Xhaka giving a particularly honest interview about the lack of performance after the game.

What was apparent in those games was the lack of depth to cope with key injuries to Thomas Partey, Kieran Tierney and Ben White, and the inexperience of the players trying to manage difficult, high pressure situations.

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta gestures on the touchline at St. James' Park

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta gestures on the touchline at St. James' Park - Credit: PA

These moments will hopefully prove ones to learn from for manager Mikel Arteta and the players, regardless of where Arsenal finish this season.

The Gunners are left two points behind Tottenham heading into the final day, facing Everton at home whilst their North London rivals visit already-relegated and bottom-of-the-table Norwich.

It may take a miracle for Arsenal to jump back up to fourth spot, but at a minimum they owe the fans a performance to end the season.

All Arsenal can do is go out, control the ball, play their way with confidence and give the fans a good send-off.