Granit Xhaka was one of just two players aged over 24 to start for Arsenal at Newcastle, and he did not hold back in his assessment of his team-mates’ performance when asked why they had failed to step up in such a pivotal match.
Speaking to Sky Sports, he said: “If someone isn’t ready for this game, stay at home, as simple as that. It doesn’t matter your age, you can be 30, 35, 10, 18 – if you’re not ready for that, stay on the bench, stay at home, don’t come here.
“We need people to have the balls to come here and play because we knew this game is one of the most important for us. To perform like this is not acceptable. It’s very, very sad for us, very disappointing and I feel very sorry for the people who came here to support us.
“This is not the way we wanted to go. This is all I can say, to say sorry to them. I don’t have any other words.”
Xhaka admitted he was unsure why his team failed to match a Newcastle side who have nothing to play for other than their final placing, adding he and his team-mates had failed to carry out Arteta’s instructions as St James’ Park.
“We didn’t do what the game plan was, not listening to the coach and doing our own things and these games happen,” he said.
“What happened was a disaster performance and like this you don’t deserve to play Champions League, don’t deserve to even play Europa League and it’s very hard to take it at the moment.
“I don’t know why we are not doing what the coach is asking of us.”