Granit Xhaka pulled no punches after Arsenal’s 2-0 defeat at Newcastle United.
On the back of losing the north London derby against Tottenham Hotspur, who then proceeded to defeat Burnley 1-0, there was no room for error as Arsenal made the trip to St. James’ Park.
However, what happened next was simply a case of Arsenal not turning up, watching on as their Champions League dreams crumbled before their eyes in a truly anonymous performance.
Arsenal suffer catastrophic defeat
While Ben White’s own goal and Bruno Guimarães’s strike might take the headlines, the real theme of the game was just how pedestrian Arsenal seemed in such a crucial game in their season.
As such, when the final whistle sounded in the north-east, there was a tangible sense of deflation amongst the Arsenal squad as they fell to the turf shell-shocked by what had just happened.
You really did get the sense that the north London club had shrunk once the pressure was on, and let’s just say that Xhaka’s post-match comments did nothing to dispel that suspicion.
That’s because the Swiss midfielder, who is one of the more senior players in the Premier League‘s youngest squad, didn’t mince his words when he was asked for his thoughts on the performance.
In fact, not only did Xhaka say that Arsenal’s display didn’t even warrant Europa League football, but he insinuated that some of his teammates might not have been ready for the occasion.
Xhaka pulled no punches
According to the Express, Xhaka said to Sky Sports: “It’s difficult to find the right words. From the first minute to the 90th we didn’t deserve to be on the pitch.
“I can’t explain to you why. We didn’t do what the game plan was, not listening to the coach. What happened was a disaster performance. You don’t deserve to play Champions League or even Europa League. It’s very hard to take it at the moment
“I don’t know why we’re not doing what the coach is asking for us.
"If someone isn't ready for this game, stay at home"— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) May 16, 2022
Granit Xhaka says the Arsenal players didn't deserve to be on the pitch today 😓 pic.twitter.com/OdC37x3TAG
“If someone isn’t ready for this game, stay at home. It doesn’t matter your age. If you’re nervous, stay on the bench or stay at home. You need people to have the balls to come here and play.
“It’s one of the most important games for us. We’re feeling very disappointed for the people who came over here. Sorry to them [fans], I don’t have any other words. The dressing room is very quiet. The game plan was totally different to what we did over 90 minutes.
“We are waiting for six years. We had everything in our hands. We looked like we were in the position where Newcastle are and they were where we are.”
Punches pulled = zero.
Xhaka’s interview sparked debate
All in all, it’s an interview that has divided fans and pundits alike with some applauding Xhaka for speaking his truth, while others opined that he was making an already fractious situation worse.
And it certainly got Jamie Carragher and Gary Neville talking in the Monday Night Football studio, so be sure to check out their reaction to Xhaka’s choice words down below:
However, regardless of what you might think about Xhaka’s comments, we can all agree that Arsenal simply didn’t show up on a night that will now come to define their 2021/22 campaign.
Barring an absolute miracle from already-relegated Norwich City, the reality is that Xhaka’s interview merely puts a full stop at the end of the night that Arsenal’s Champions League dream died.