Arsenal was denied two penalties as they produced one of the goalless football results of the midweek action in the Premier League. Arsenal failed to score in a Premier League game for the first time in 17 games in this tumultuous match as they struggled to produce quality chances against Eddie Howe’s team despite controlling possession. The frustrations of Arsenal were increased in stoppage time as referee Andy Madley refused to grant a late penalty claim for a handball by Jacob Murphy and VAR did not step in. Mikel Arteta, the manager of Arsenal, described the choice as disgusting. The outcome improved Newcastle’s chances of finishing in the top four as they skillfully defended their box and safeguarded goalie Nick Pope. With just 11 goals allowed and 10 shutouts, Howe’s team continues to have the strongest defense in the Premier League this year.
On New Year’s Eve, Arsenal scored against Brighton in just 66 seconds, and they were in the same spirited mood early on. They had five efforts on the Newcastle goal in the first six minutes, but the visitors held firm as the ball pinballed around their area. After a poor start, Newcastle gathered themselves and transformed the game into a brawl by applying strong pressure to Arsenal in the middle of the field. As halftime approached, it resulted in a stretch of five bookings for each team in a span of 16 minutes. Newcastle nearly delivered a sucker punch to Arsenal just before halftime, but Joelinton was unable to score from four yards out after Fabian Schar’s near-post header.
After the break, with Newcastle’s threat from set pieces giving Arsenal major trouble, Schar floated a header narrowly wide. While Arteta’s team maintained control of the ball, Newcastle’s defense played well when called upon to defend their goalie. When meeting a near post corner, Gabriel Martinelli felt he had flicked home what would have been a crucial goal in the title chase, but his effort slipped inches wide. With three minutes left, Eddie Nketiah managed to escape Sven Botman’s grasp, but Pope kicked the ball clear after his low-angle finish.
Granit Xhaka’s left-wing cross struck Murphy’s outstretched arm, forcing Newcastle to withstand one more assault in injury time. The home side made vehement protests, but the officials waived them away to preserve the goalless football results.
“I’m incredibly proud of my team. The way we tried, the way we kept going, the way we played and won the game,” Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta said. “We had so many situations and missed in the last third before two egregious penalties. It’s extremely easy; there are just two penalties. Now I’m talking about two disgraceful penalties that I’ve witnessed. We had adequate opportunities to win the game. Newcastle hasn’t faced a team quite like this one in the past. It speaks well of my players.”
“At that point in the game, you’re probably thinking, “Please don’t,” since the guys have sacrificed so much. For us, that would have been a disgrace. I didn’t think the proximity alone constituted a punishment, but you never know. Mikel and I got along very nicely,” Eddie Howe said. “I thought the defense played exceptionally well. I believe you witnessed true teamwork today thanks to the group’s excellent mentality. Arsenal is very, very excellent; they provide you with a variety of challenges and really test you, so we were aware that our defense had to be impenetrable. They are a quality team, and I believe we played extremely well as the pressure increased in the second half. There was just one save Nick needed to make; everything else was pressure. I admit that I was a little upset that we couldn’t represent a greater danger.”
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