Neville slams Arsenal for "playing the rules" which cost them Champions League

Gary Neville believes Arsenal's playing of the rules has come back to haunt them with the Gunners almost certain to miss out on Champions League football.

Following Monday evening's (May 16th) 2-0 loss to Newcastle, the north London side sit two points behind Tottenham ahead of Sunday's Premier League finale. Arsenal did hold a four-point buffer over their arch-rivals, but back-to defeats have seen Champions League qualification slip between their fingers.

To join the European elite, the Gunners are now banking on typical Spurs to bottle it once again on the big occasion. But Antonio Conte's side is a far cry away from the Tottenham of years past and Arsenal's desperate hope is almost certain to fail – and, according to Neville, they've only got themselves to blame.

"Cancelling that NLD game has cost Arsenal," tweeted Neville following their dismal display at St. James' Park. "They had not recovered at all from Thursday and had this loss been earlier in the season they would have been clear of it."

He later added: "They played the rules !!!" when quizzed by an Arsenal fan that the Gunners had legitimately sought to have the game called off.

Arsenal were accused of crying wolf earlier in the season when, already ransacked with injuries, they requested the north London derby be postponed on the grounds of Martin Odegaard contracting coronavirus. Despite protests from Tottenham, the appeal was granted by the Premier League and January's derby was postponed until the penultimate week of the season.

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It's a decision that looks to have cost the Gunners. Ran ragged by Spurs on Thursday – not helped by Rob Holding's early dismissal, Arsenal looked lethargic and leggy four days later and struggled to cope with the pace of Allan Saint-Maximin and Miguel Almiron in particular.

A revitalised Newcastle looked a class above their Champions League-chasing opponents. So much so, it could be forgiven for thinking it were the Magpies who were battling for a spot in Europe.

Due to a severely depleted goal difference, the Gunners are now left hoping Tottenham fall to defeat against bottom-side Norwich on the final day of the season whilst they themselves need to pick up maximum points against a battling Everton outfit.

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