The Gunners went into the Premier League clash with Newcastle knowing they needed to win, as their bitter rivals Tottenham Hotspur broke into the top four. They trailed Spurs by two points and knew that anything but a victory would put their top-four hopes in jeopardy.
However, with UEFA Champions League football at stake, Arsenal disappointed and were unable to deal with an impressive Newcastle team. A Ben White own goal and a fabulous finish from Bruno Guimares did the damage to all but end Gunners manager Mikel Arteta's hopes of securing Champions League football.
Shearer spoke of his shock at Arsenal's performance in their defeat to his former side, telling Premier League Productions (via HITC):
“What surprised me with the Arsenal team was, on the back of such a poor performance against Tottenham."
The Gunners had suffered a shock 3-0 defeat to their crosscity rivals last time out. Shearer expected a reaction from them against the Magpies, which never came, saying:
“What you want and need is you need a game straightaway. We want to get that out of our system. We all knew. Everyone all knew what the atmosphere was going to be like at St James’ Park tonight, so those players should have known, and Mikel Arteta would have known."
The Premier League legend harped on how Arteta's side looked surprised by the occasion:
“I was really surprised; it looked as if it caught them by surprise. They were like a rabbit in the headlights. They didn’t know what hit them. Arsenal couldn’t cope being put under the pressure. That was the surprising thing. They never laid a glove on Newcastle in 95 minutes – they got worse (as the game went on).”
Arsenal's defeat to Newcastle United has all but doused their top-four hopes
The 2-0 loss to the Magpies might be a telling blow in the Gunners' pursuit of Champions League football next season. Moreover, it would also affect their upcoming transfer window and next season as a whole. The north London side are looking to play in Europe's elite club competition for the first time in five years.
However, with the Magpies defeat, Champions League football could be beyond the Gunners next season. Trailing Tottenham Hotspur by two points going into the final day (May 22), the Gunners will need to beat relegation-threatened Everton and hope Spurs lose at already-relegated Norwich City. If Spurs draw at Norwich, Arsenal will need to overturn a massive +16 goal difference to move fourth.
With Arsenal likely to end up in the Europa League, they will have less money from rights and sponsors to land their desired transfer targets in the summer. That's because their top targets could prefer UEFA Champions League football and shun the Gunners.