For 45 minutes, you’d be forgiven for thinking Newcastle, not Arsenal, were the Top Three side at St. James Park on Saturday.
The Gunners, led by David Ospina, held back a furious second-half onslaught from the Magpies, who nearly fought back from a 2-0 halftime deficit to snag a point from Arsenal.
It’s also easy to forget that the match was Newcastle’s fifth since Feb. 28, compared to Arsenal’s eighth including a midweek bout in Monaco. And the Gunners fought through to keep their PL hopes alive.
[ MATCH RECAP: Newcastle 1-2 Arsenal ]
“We played one game in Manchester United, one at home to West Ham, one in Monaco in Tuesday and now here so that’s three away games in two weeks,” said Wenger. “I’m proud of the performance we put in today.”
It was a good performance, in particular from keeper Ospina. But to focus on the final 45 would do a disservice to a brilliant first half that saw Olivier Giroud and company dominate the Magpies.
From the BBC:
“We started well, on the front foot, we put the pace we wanted to into the game. The problem in the second half was we didn’t play, I don’t know why. We knew we needed a third goal but they put us under pressure and did well to come back.
“It was a tough game but it is a really important win. Even though we are disappointed with the Champions League exit, we want to fight on until the end of the season.”
Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester United all remain on the Gunners schedule, so Arsenal will have a chance to make a big charge up the table. The three points — not one — the club earned Saturday, however, will be just as important.