If ever there was a time for a performance, it was against Newcastle. With their fate firmly in their own hands, Arsenal produced their worst display of the season.
An abysmal showing lacking bottle, character, cohesion, quality, belief and leadership, Arsenal only have themselves to blame for throwing away their best chance in three years of returning to the Champions League.
Newcastle, to their credit, were excellent. They bullied Arsenal in every department from the first minute to the last. They should have won by more.
This team, however, did not excel in any one aspect. Not one player can leave with their head held high. Instead, staring solemnly at the ground, Arsenal bow out on a whimper.
Arsenal need a miracle they will not get after blowing their top four hopes with a shocking 2-0 defeat to Newcastle
Upbeat and excited, Mikel Arteta appeared to be taking all the right steps and say all the right words following events in the North London Derby. Attention had switched to this fixture immediately after the 3-0 defeat, a game that was framed as an opportunity, not a challenge.
While Arteta is not in control of how the players performed on the night, he too does not escape scorn. Whatever he said at half-time failed to inspire, and his substitutions were panicked. Nuno Tavares was far from the worst player on the pitch and made way early despite picking up some good positions. If the team wasn’t unorganised before, it was now.
Arsenal did not turn up. The only ones who did were the 3,000 travelling supporters who made the longest journey of the fixture calendar north on a Monday evening. They deserved better. They were treated to an abomination of a display.
And so ends the hunt for the top four. Except it isn’t over, even though it unquestionably is.
Norwich, bottom of the Premier League table with just five wins and just 23 goals scored, have to beat Tottenham. This is a Spurs side with two world class forwards in world class form. They don’t even need to win the game; a point will do for them.
All of which skates over the idea that it is somehow a given that Arsenal will beat Everton on the final day. The Toffees’ top-flight status is not assured and they will face a Gunners side more crestfallen than most will have ever felt in their careers. Downtrodden and disheartened, nothing can be taken for granted on the final day.
It will require a miracle of legendary proportions. One that quite simply will not happen.