Mikel Arteta said he was ‘very proud’ of his Arsenal players after the title-chasing Gunners earned a 2-0 win at Newcastle.
Arsenal passed a tough examination of their title credentials with a hard-fought win at St James’ Park, with a fine strike from Martin Odegaard and a Fabian Schar own goal ensured the north Londoners reduced Manchester City’s lead at the top to one point.
Newcastle had begun the game brightly and came close to scoring before Odegaard’s opener, as Jacob Murphy hit the woodwork in a frantic start from the hosts.
The Gunners had crumbled in the same fixture last season as hopes of Champions League football collapsed across the run-in, but held their nerve to claim an important three points. Arteta was delighted with his side’s performance after beating a Newcastle side chasing a top four finish.
“I am extremely happy, obviously and then there is pride,” Arteta told BBC MOTD.
”I am very proud of the players for the way they handled the environment and a team who has a lot of things that they do really well. We handled that really well. There was a lot of emotion from what happened last year here and in sport, when you have another opportunity, you have to show you have learned and approach it from a different way. I saw the fight in them to do it a different way today.
“We have to get back to that feeling [of losing last year – the video of which he showed his players ahead of Sunday] to understand. It is not enough just to talk about it. We have to see our faces and understand the emotions, not just the players but the staff also. You don’t want to be like this anymore, it is a horrible feeling. Today we had to show a different type of competitiveness, desire and then quality.
“You have to continue to grow. We have done it for 10 months and we have to keep digging every day. The demands are incredibly high., we know that. We are doing what we have to do, to win football matches and competing really well. It is three games to go and we are still there.
“Before the game, I felt that I would put my boots on today because the atmosphere was incredible. That is what you want. You are playing for a championship, we guarantee second place. Let’s keep going and digging and digging and see what is there.”