A look at what the national media had to say following Newcastle United’s 2-0 defeat to Arsenal.
Arsenal close gap in title race after Martin Ødegaard sinks Newcastle
Louise Taylor of the Guardian said: “Ten minutes of normal time remained when Mikel Arteta withdrew the outstanding Martin Ødegaard and the almost equally impressive Gabriel Martinelli. Arsenal’s manager had judged his team’s two-goal lead sufficiently secure to protect this magnificent match’s two principal catalysts, resting their legs for the challenges ahead.
“Manchester City may be a point ahead at the top of the Premier League with a game in hand but Arteta’s players are not about to surrender their title pursuit just yet – and certainly not after coming through a significant test of character and courage on Tyneside with flying colours.
“Newcastle pushed Arsenal all the way, doing enough to suggest they will grace next season’s Champions League. It spoke volumes that Aaron Ramsdale needed to excel in the visiting goal while Arsenal frequently resorted to the sort of streetwise time-wasting tactics Arteta has previously accused Eddie Howe of choreographing.
“It was the only way Arsenal could resist the home side’s momentum, the sole hope they had of interrupting the flow which had threatened to overwhelm their collective talent.
“Ultimately though, Ødegaard and Martinelli imposed that quality. And, as notorious “game managers” themselves in the very recent past, Newcastle were arguably hoist by their own petard.”
Newcastle United firmly in control of their own destiny
Phil McNulty of the BBC said: “Newcastle United’s fans could not hide their disappointment at the final whistle as all their efforts to dent Arsenal’s title challenge and lift their own Champions League aspirations came to nothing. It removes some of the margin for error as they chase a place in the top four, but the manner in which they ran Arsenal so close and made the margins so fine was an example of their progress this season.
“Who knows what might have happened had Murphy’s shot in the opening minutes gone in instead of bouncing back off the woodwork? But in the end Arsenal had the better chances and claimed the three points.
“The Toon Army is alive with self-belief and optimism, even cheering their side loudly after the final whistle as manager Howe took his players on a lap around the pitch. Isak showed what a quality acquisition he has been, but there was no joy for key midfield man Bruno Guimaraes who did not have one of his better days.
“Newcastle stay third, three points ahead of Liverpool in fifth, the good news for Howe and his players being that they remain firmly in control of their own destiny.”
Arsenal’s statement win at Newcastle illustrates strides Mikel Arteta has made
Luke Edwards of the Telegraph said: “If you needed any more evidence of how much Arsenal have improved, how far they have come in the last year under Mikel Arteta, this was as conclusive as you are going to get. You can say the same about Newcastle United too.
“This was a clash between two titans, two evenly matched, top-four sides who have both made huge strides forward since they last met here. On that occasion, Newcastle triumphed, this time it was Arsenal.
“It feels like the start of a rivalry between two clubs, who are going to go toe-to-toe, fighting and scrapping with each other, locked in a wrestling match at the top of the table. Whether either of them will be strong enough to replace Manchester City as champions is a debate for another day, but what is clear is that, in the race for Champions League football over the course of the next few years, it is not going to be easy for anyone – not Liverpool, Chelsea, Tottenham, Brighton or Aston Villa – to dislodge them moving forward.
“The two most improved teams in the Premier League, look like they are here to stay. That is the conclusion to take after this high octane, volatile and tense affair. It was a high quality contest, physical, frenetic and fast, between two excellent teams.
“It was settled by fine margins. Newcastle fell short, they did not take their chances. Arsenal did take theirs, scoring both their goals at the end of prolonged periods of home team pressure. That is the ultimate sign of strength.
“They became only the second team to beat the Newcastle in front of their own supporters (Liverpool have won here twice) in the past 15 months. It was a huge result and performance.”
Penalty decision swung the tie in Arsenal’s favour
Craig Hope of the Daily Mail wrote: “Rarely has the award of a penalty been so badly needed by the team on the receiving end – but it was here that a breathless and brilliant contest swung in Arsenal’s favour.
“Mikel Arteta’s side were gasping for air come the eighth minute. They were doing their best impression of Tottenham at St James’ Park a fortnight ago. If not in terms of scoreline – Spurs were 3-0 down by then – but certainly by the manner in which they appeared helpless in repelling the home onslaught.
“The concession of a spot-kick probably did not feel like the respite they so craved, but when the decision was overturned, the flow of the game changed with it.
“From masquerading as Spurs – now there is an insult – to morphing into a team who have not given up on the title, Arsenal were deserved winners come the end. The outstanding Martin Odegaard enjoyed a rare weekend as the Premier League’s top scoring Norwegian and led the recovery with a superb 14th-minute opener.
“The captain had come to the touchline asking for water after just five minutes. It was oxygen tanks he and his team-mates could have done with. “
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