A stunned Mikel Arteta says Newcastle United were "10 times" better than Arsenal and felt his side "could not cope" with the pressure in a 2-0 defeat that surely cost his side a Champions League place.
The Gunners needed a win at St James' Park on Monday to move back above fierce rivals Tottenham into fourth place heading into the final day of the Premier League season.
But Ben White scored a second-half own goal and Bruno Guimaraes sealed the Magpies' victory by doubling their lead with five minutes of normal time to play.
Arsenal were dominated by Eddie Howe's side on Tyneside, ensuring Spurs will head to relegated Norwich City on Sunday knowing a point will surely be enough to seal a top-four finish given they have a far superior goal difference to the Gunners.
Arteta's men have no chance of catching third-placed Chelsea and look destined for the Europa League next season ahead of an encounter with relegation-threatened Everton this weekend.
The Gunners head coach was bemused by such a poor display from his team with so much on the line.
He told Sky Sports: "Newcastle deserved to win the match and were much better than us. We had nothing in the game.
"They were much better in every department: in the duels, with second balls. We were poor with the ball and didn't defend as we have to do
"A lot of things happened during the night, with substitutions due to injuries, but it's not an excuse, Newcastle deserved to win the match because they were much better than us from the beginning. They were much better than us in everything that a football match requires to be on top of it."
Spurs head into the final Matchweek in fourth spot pic.twitter.com/0oTjXmHCo9— Premier League (@premierleague) May 16, 2022
Arteta says such an insipid display was hard to take.
"It's true that we could not cope with the game that we had to play here. We tried to change some things and it didn't make it better," the Spaniard added.
"We had moments where we looked better at the start of the second half, we understood better what we had to do but then the execution was so poor and the goals we gave away were extremely poor.
"It's extremely disappointing that Newcastle were 10 times better than us and fully deserved the match. The performance was nowhere near the level we need to be at if we want to play in the Champions League.
"I am incredibly disappointed. The team we have at the moment there are questions marks in a lot positions because of the injuries and suspensions that we had but it's no excuse. We were not at the races today. It's a really very painful one.
"It was in our hands and today it's not in our hands. We have to beat Everton and wait for Norwich to beat Spurs. There's always a chance in football and you have to be there just in case that chance appears."