Granit Xhaka hit out at his Arsenal team-mates after their 2-0 defeat to Newcastle as he appeared to suggested some of them did not deserve to be on the pitch.
However, Sky Sports pundits Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher hit back at the midfielder, labelling him a disgrace for seemingly criticising the younger members of Mikel Arteta’s squad.
Arsenal headed to the North East knowing only a victory would see them overtake Tottenham back into fourth, but after a woeful 2-0 defeat they look to have all but thrown away the Champions League place that once looked guaranteed.
Granit Xhaka (centre) hit out at his Arsenal team-mates after their 2-0 defeat at Newcastle
Mikel Arteta (above) and Co saw their Champions League hopes take a hit in the defeat
However, Xhaka suggested the Gunners do not deserve to secure the coveted top-four spot over their London rivals.
Speaking with Sky Sports after the game, the 29-year-old said: ‘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, we were not listening to the coach. What happened was a disaster performance. You don’t deserve to play Champions League or even Europa League [with that display]. It’s very hard to take it at the moment.
Speaking after the game, Xhaka suggested the Gunners do not deserve European football
‘I don’t know why we’re not doing what the coach is asking for us.’
When asked if inexperience in the squad was an issue, Xhaka replied: ‘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.
Newcastle took the lead after Arsenal defender Ben White bundled the ball over his own line
Bruno Guimaraes doubled that lead in front of an open goal with just six minutes remaining
‘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.’
Xhaka reiterated his view to BBC Sports before admitting Arsenal still have the chance to snatch fourth on the final day of the season, although that it is no longer in their hands.
‘If Tottenham lose and we win, you never know in football,’ he said. ‘We have to hope.
‘Before the game everything was in our hands. It’s a totally different game now. If you have to hope in football and in life it’s different.’
Following Xhaka’s brutally candid comments, Neville and Carragher slammed him for criticising the younger members of Arsenal’s squad.
Gary Neville (right) and Jamie Carragher (centre) slammed the midfielder for his comments
Former Manchester United defender Neville called Xhaka out for his double standards, arguing the Switzerland international could not be in a position to call anyone out after being a ‘disgrace’ at times for the club.
‘I don’t know what to make of that,’ he said. ‘He’s having a right dig at players in the dressing room.
‘I hope he wasn’t having a go at these young players. He has been a disgrace at times, getting sent off etcetera. He has left it up in the air there.’
Neville called Xhaka out for his double standards, labelling him as a disgrace on Sky Sports
Xhaka has disappointed the north London side at times, being sent off twice this season
Carragher echoed his co-pundit’s opinion, insisting that the place to come out with ‘powerful words’ is on the pitch, not in interviews.
‘We like players to come out in interviews,’ he said. ‘Easy to come out and be powerful with your words. But do it on the pitch.
‘He has called out some of the young players, some not ready…
‘I love players being honest and straight but it is easy to do that…he was part of that. It was like everybody was involved in that.’
Ben White’s own goal and Bruno Guimaraes’s late strike saw Eddie Howe’s team take all three points at St James’s Park.
Arsenal now host relegation battlers Everton on the final day of the season knowing they need a win and a defeat for Tottenham to have any chance of clinching top four.