Premier League • England

Arteta fears six-month suspension as he hides true Arsenal thoughts, amid top-four momentum probe

Jonny Whitfield
Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta

Mikel Arteta claimed that he could receive a six-month suspension if he revealed his inner thoughts on Arsenal’s 3-0 defeat to Tottenham.

The Gunners lost one of the biggest north London derbies in years as the pressure mounted on the top-four race. Fifth-placed Spurs subsequently moved a point behind their fourth-placed rivals.

Harry Kane scored a first-half brace – including a penalty – in an action-packed first half.

Indeed, as well as the penalty conceded by Cedric Soares, Rob Holding saw red for Arsenal after two yellow cards.

Asked by Sky Sports for his thoughts on the match, Arteta simply said: “Well, if I say what I think I am suspended for six months.”

He added: “I cannot say. I am allowed to give my interpretation of what happened in the game, but I don’t know how to lie and I don’t like lying so I prefer not to say what I think.”

Arteta stressed that he felt “so proud” of his Arsenal players, hence making clear his frustration at the refereeing.

“I want the referee to come in front of the camera and explain his decisions,” he said. “It’s a shame because a beautiful game was destroyed today.”

Substitute centre-back Ben White looked as though he was going to come on to shore up Arsenal’s defence.

In the end, though, he stayed on the bench and Arteta said it “didn’t make any sense” to bring the Englishman on in the first half.

In truth, though, Arsenal were second-best for much of the game. Tottenham in fact had chances to make it worse than 3-0 for the visitors.

Arteta switches Arsenal focus

Mikel Arteta managing Arsenal

And the defeat came at a cost of more than Spurs closing the gap on Arsenal.

White is only just back from injury, but now Holding is suspended for one match. What’s more, Gabriel Magalhaes came off with what looked like a muscle problem in the second half.

“Hopefully Ben will be fit and hopefully Gabriel recovers because if not we obviously don’t have enough players in the back line,” Arteta said.

“Newcastle is our focus, this game is history,” Arteta said.

“I just said in the dressing room, now it’s Newcastle, this is gone. We know this went out of our hands so let’s go to Newcastle and be the team that you’ve seen right from the beginning in this stadium.

“It’s painful, but we have a huge match on Monday.

“We have two games to play, each of us. As you say, it’s in our hands and we have to do our job. We have to show what we showed from the beginning.”

Arsenal face Everton at the Emirates Stadium in their final game of the season after playing Newcastle.