Arsenal travelled to St James’ Park on Monday night knowing two wins from their last two games would have seen them secure Champions League football and finish above north London rivals Tottenham.
But a 2-0 defeat to Newcastle – and last week’s derby loss – has seen Arsenal forfeit the initiative and sit fifth in the Premier League ahead of the final day of the season.
Tottenham, two points above Arsenal with a superior goal difference, now need just a point from Sunday’s match against bottom-placed Norwich City to finish in the top four.
‘I think that is a problem not just this season but I think it is a huge problem for Mikel Arteta and this Arsenal team going forward,’ Carragher said on Sky Sports.
‘Europa League next season, Thursday, Sunday. I think they have had their opportunity this season – a big one – having no European football. That was a big advantage for them.
‘They are not in the four best sides in the country but they had an advantage on the other teams and they still haven’t made it pay. I fear for Arsenal and Mikel Arteta next season.
‘I think it is going to be tough for him. I think this will be a game that will be looked back on when he eventually leaves the club. This is Arteta’s first job so he doesn’t really have that belief behind him.
‘If Antonio Conte has a bad time, you know he won the league at Chelsea, at Inter Milan. You have got that feeling that he has done it before and he knows what he is doing.
‘Arteta has never done it before. That is not a criticism, it is just a fact. He needed that tonight.
‘I really fear for him next season and if Arsenal are seventh or eighth at Christmas time with them in the Europa League there is going to massive pressure on his job.’
After a goalless opening 45 minutes at St James’ Park, Newcastle took the lead shortly after the break through Ben White’s unfortunate own goal.
Arsenal struggled to get back into the match after going behind and Bruno Guimaraes put the game to bed late on as Newcastle chase a top-half finish.
‘I thought Arsenal were awful,’ former Liverpool and England defender Carragher added. ‘I have been a big supporter of Mikel Arteta and this Arsenal team because since I have started at Sky I have got sick of saying the same things about Arsenal.
‘I was sick of it myself. I actually enjoyed seeing young players I could get behind. I think the fans could get behind it.
‘They almost accepted they would not be challenging for honours but there was something building. But that performance today was bad. That was a cup final today, we know how important Champions League is.
‘To be that poor in the first half and then produce that in the second half, it is not acceptable. It was not the result, it was the manner of the result, they were awful from minute one.’
Asked whether Arsenal’s top-four hopes were over ahead of the final day of the season, Carragher replied: ‘Yes. Spurs are not losing from that position.
‘Arsenal know it. There is nobody in world football who thinks Arsenal will make Champions League football off the back of that. No chance.’
While Tottenham travel to Carrow Road on Sunday aiming to secure their place in next season’s Champions League, Arsenal have their own business to take care of as Frank Lampard’s Everton travel to the Emirates Stadium.
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