Jamie Carragher believes the prospect of Europa League football next season will cause more problems for Arsenal and Mikel Arteta following their 2-0 defeat at Newcastle United on Monday night.
The Gunners had the chance to leapfrog Tottenham Hotspur and move back into fourth spot but squandered the opportunity as a Ben White own-goal and late Bruno Guimaraes strike earned the win for the Magpies. The result leaves Arsenal two points behind their North London rivals heading into the final day of the season.
Tottenham face rock-bottom and already-relegated Norwich City on Sunday, needing just a point to book their place in the Champions League due to their superior goal difference, while Arsenal take on Everton, who may still need a result to stay in the Premier League. This means the Gunners are likely to finish fifth and play in the Europa League next term, which Carragher “fears” could have an adverse effect.
“I thought they were awful,” the Liverpool legend told Sky Sports of Arsenal. “And I have been a big supporter of Mikel Arteta and this Arsenal team because since I have started at Sky I have got sick of saying the same things about Arsenal. I was sick of it myself. I actually enjoyed seeing young players I could get behind.
“I think the fans could get behind it. They almost accepted they would not be challenging for honours but there was something building. But that performance today was bad. That was a cup final today, we know how important Champions League is.
“To be that poor in the first half and then produce that in the second half, it is not acceptable. It was not the result, it was the manner of the result, they were awful from minute one.”
“I think that is a problem not just this season but I think it is a huge problem for Mikel Arteta and this Arsenal team going forward,” Carragher added.
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“Europa League next season, Thursday, Sunday. I think they have had their opportunity this season – a big one – having no European football. That was a big advantage for them.
“They are not in the four best sides in the country but they had an advantage on the other teams and they still haven’t made it pay. I fear for Arsenal and Mikel Arteta next season.
“I think it is going to be tough for him. I think this will be a game that will be looked back on when he eventually leaves the club. This is Arteta’s first job so he doesn’t really have that belief behind him.
“If Antonio Conte has a bad time, you know he won the league at Chelsea, at Inter Milan. You have got that feeling that he has done it before and he knows what he is doing.
“Arteta has never done it before. That is not a criticism, it is just a fact. He needed that tonight. I really fear for him next season and if Arsenal are seventh or eighth at Christmas time with them in the Europa League there is going to massive pressure on his job.”