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Granit Xhaka’s brutal Arsenal interview in full as Gary Neville calls him a “disgrace”

Granit Xhaka’s brutal Arsenal interview after the Newcastle game can been seen in full as Gary Neville calls him a “disgrace”.

The Gunners midfielder gave a damning verdict on his team-mates after a Ben White own goal and a late strike from Bruno Guimarães dealt Arsenal a blow to their hopes of finishing in the Premier League top four.

Their 2-0 defeat all-but ended their hopes of a Champions League place with Mikel Arteta’s side outmuscled, outfought and outplayed by the Magpies.

Tottenham now need just one point against already relegated Norwich City to finish above their north London rivals with Arsenal looking set for a season in the Europa League, having been in the Champions League places for so much of the season.

Xhaka gave an honest yet brutal post-match verdict, accusing his colleagues of lacking the kind of mentality they needed to come away with any points in front of an always impeccable St James’ Park atmosphere.

“It’s difficult to find the right words. From the first minute to the 90th we didn’t deserve to be on the pitch,” the player said.

“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.”

Questioned if inexperience in the squad was an issue, he added: “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.”

In an interview with BBC Sport, Xhaka doubled down on his comments and suggested the Arsenal dressing room explicitly ignored what Arteta was instructing. “We wanted to have a big game but it didn’t happen. It’s so difficult to find the right words. If you don’t listen to the coach and do your own stuff, it doesn’t work.

“People speak always about leaders. We’re not playing tennis, we’re playing football. If someone is not ready for this pressure, stay at home. You can’t come here and play like this. We looked very bad today. The game plan was totally different. We played a totally different game.

“They were running us over from the first minute to the 96th. When you play like this you don’t deserve to play in the Champions League. The thing is the pressure. If you can’t handle the pressure, it ends like today. It looks like we can’t do something against the pressure.”

However Sky Sports’ Gary Neville ripped into Xhaka’s verdict: “I think I heard him say, ‘stay at home if you haven’t got the balls’. So he’s obviously having a go at people in his dressing room.

“I don’t know who he’s having a go at, I hope he wasn’t having a go at the younger players…him? “I tell you what he’s been a disgrace at times over the last four or five years, getting sent off recklessly. He’s left it up in the air there, that was nothing there.”

Player ratings (via Sky Sports)

Newcastle: Dubravka (6), Krafth (6), Schar (6), Burn (6), Targett (6), Guimaraes (8), Longstaff (6), Joelinton (8), Almiron (7), Saint-Maximin (7), Wilson (8).

Subs: Lascelles (6), Murphy (6), Fraser (6), Gayle (6).

Arsenal: Ramsdale (5), Tomiyasu (5), White (5), Gabriel (5), Tavares (5), Elneny (6), Xhaka (6), Saka (7), Odegaard (6), Smith Rowe (5), Nketiah (6).

Subs: Cedric (6), Martinelli (6), Lacazette (6), Pepe (5).

Man of the match: Callum Wilson.

Mikel Arteta described himself as “extremely disappointed” after overseeing an Arsenal performance that “nowhere near the level if we want to play Champions League football”.

He praised Newcastle for their impressive performance but said he didn’t want to use the injuries and suspensions that have hit his side in recent week as an excuse, instead focusing on Arsenal’s sub-par effort.

“It was a really difficult night to swallow,” Arteta told Sky Sports. “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.

“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.”

Asked what he told his players in the dressing room following their damaging defeat, Arteta said: “I’m extremely disappointed. That Newcastle were 10 times better than us and fully deserved the match.

“The performance was nowhere near the level if we want to play in the Champions League.”

‘This was the best performance since my arrival’: Eddie Howe said on his Newcastle players after they crushed Arsenal’s top four hopes.

Speaking to BBC Sport, Howe said: ‘Big turnaround from that game [defeat at Arsenal in his first game in the dugout]. That was a really frustrating day. We left the stadium that day in a difficult moment. We knew we had a massive second half of the season. Luckily the players responded brilliantly to the challenge.

‘This was the best performance since my arrival.

‘The motivation was personal pride and performing in front of our supporters and leaving on a good note into the summer.

‘We were very aggressive, good physically. It’s not an easy game, Arsenal are top quality. Credit to the players.

‘We knew this was something we hadn’t achieved – getting something against the top six. In the future we’ll have to compete against these teams. We have to have confidence we can win anywhere. This will help us today.

‘A whole host of things have helped us turn the results around – unity, team spirit and January definitely helped with quality players coming in.

‘The mentality of the group, they were determined not to get relegated.

‘The hardest thing for me this summer is to keep that [group spirit] intact while changing the dynamic of the group.

‘There’s a massive connection between us and the fans. The minimum we can give them is 100% effort every time we play. That’s what they want to see. I think we’ve delivered that in the main.’


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Twitter users reacted at Granit Xhaka’s brutal Arsenal interview in full as Gary Neville calls him a “disgrace”…

@shaunle61197008: Hasnt been good enough for arsenal since the day he arrived …now he’s digging out the youngsters

@dazzlerdub: Granit Xhaka is exactly what’s been wrong with Arsenal for a long time.

@nickcauser92: When a player comes out and openly admits that the team aren’t listening to the Manager, alarm bells should start going off. It’s the definition of the first stage of the Manager losing the dressing room. They’re not following his most basic instructions. #Arsenal #NEWARS #Arteta

@zeb1886: He’s not wrong though. Fair play to him for being so honest. Too many players out there today dropping 0/10s, overwhelmed by the occasion and probably still in hiding.

@AfcJoeBillett: Fair play, coming out an apologising to the fans and also being honest. He may not be the most talented player on the pitch, but it’s what you want to hear. Players who aren’t up for it, should stay at home. Half the players in that squad today should not be starting next season!

@SemperFiArsenal: Finally speaking the truth. Harsh words to hear. No wonder Granit is a well liked personality in the dressing room and amongst managers

@BritzSeemLegit: Xhaka didn’t actually have a bad game today he clearly explained peopke didn’t follow the instructions correctly, he’s part of that machine he’s only a player that looks good if the system and team are working around him tbh you cannot blame him for today

@supanova_7: Hard to comprehend how bad we were yesterday. From the goalkeeper’s persistent poor distribution to gaps in midfield. Say what you will about Xhaka but he was the most vocal on the pitch yesterday when things weren’t going well. Not blameless but he tried to help turn it around.

@AFCMikey: Xhaka is honest and has basically said what most Arsenal fans are thinking 👏

@EthanHall1704: Have a lot of time for this

@Flauntaego: Say what you want about Xhaka but I like his honesty. “If you are scared stay at home”

@NeilCoo50954553: Big u up Granit. Man enough to say what we all know and feel

@JamesGreenInUK: Gary are you seriously expecting him to name players? He’s asked to do post match (he’s not the captain by the way), and tells the truth that there was a lack of balls. When has any player come out after a game and mentioned players names? McTominay post match after Arsenal 🤷🏼‍♂️

@BarrieSenior: i wish gary would call out his own teams players like this. he has been vocal sometimes but when it suits xhaka fair play he’s said what he feels after the game

@AFCLiam0304: Nah the Xhaka hate on sky sports is absurd

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