Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta says he is “really proud” of his team and they should have conceded two “scandalous” penalties in the goalless draw against Newcastle.
A resilient display from the Magpies kept the Gunners at bay and ended their 11-game Premier League winning streak at the Emirates Stadium.
But Arteta was frustrated in the build-up and said his side were wrongly denied penalties – the first when Dan Burn pulled Gabriel back from a free-kick, before Jacob Murphy appeared to latch on to the ball in the dying minutes.
The frustrations were visible at the Emirates as Arteta and his players frantically waved their hands in the air in protest at the decisions, which were reviewed by the video assistant referee.
“There were two penalties. It’s very simple. I’m talking about what I saw. They were two scandalous penalties,” Arteta said.
Matthew Upson, part of BBC Radio 5 Live’s match commentary, said of the second attack: “There’s no doubt he’s hitting the arm, but he’s not in an unnatural position and he’s not miles out of body silhouette to try and block the ball.”
Former Manchester United defender and Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville agreed with Upson and said handball was “never a penalty”.
Magpies boss Eddie Howe added that it would be a “travesty” to award a penalty so late in the game.
“Obviously at that stage of the game you think ‘oh no, the lads gave so much’ and that would be a travesty for us. I didn’t think it was a penalty but you never know,” he said.
However, Neville said Arsenal could be “damaged” by the first decision and Newcastle were “very lucky” not to award a penalty.
Referee Andy Madley handed out nine yellow cards in a tumultuous game and the crowd at the Emirates booed the play of the officials at half-time.
‘Arsenal can win the league’
Penalty decisions notwithstanding, Arsenal struggled to create chances against a resilient Newcastle who were hoping to clinch a place in the Champions League this season.
“Arsenal have run out of ideas,” said Neville.
The Gunners remain eight points clear of defending champions Manchester City and are unbeaten in their last 11 Premier League games.
“Arsenal can win the league but they will have to go into the transfer market. When will they be in this position again? You don’t know,” said Neville.
“They have a small chance to win the league and if they get a good striker at this moment, I think they could win the league that way.
“Can I find two players who can strengthen that team and change the game, maybe get a game out of the team? It’s a massive few months for Arteta.”
The Arsenal manager said: “If we continue to play like this, perform like this and dominate, we will win a lot of matches.”
He added that the club will always look to strengthen during the transfer window, with the Gunners heavily linked with Shakhtar Donetsk winger Mykhail Mudryk.
We had what we had, said Arteta. “We also have some injuries and we don’t have as many options in the attacking zone, but it is what it is. That’s something we always try to do; improve our team at all times [transfer] the window is important.”
Howe praises ‘very good defensive display’
While Arteta may be frustrated by the point, his counterpart Howe was delighted.
“It was very good defense and a great group mentality,” he said. “You saw good teamwork and a collective effort.”
Newcastle, who are now unbeaten in their last 13 Premier League games, have kept six consecutive clean sheets in all competitions for only the second time in their history, the first being in 1982.
“I thought we were resilient, tenacious and brilliantly defending all parts of the pitch together. Our defensive performances were very good and that’s a credit,” Howe said.
“We want to compete in every game, we don’t want to show up on these pitches and not give our all. We competed for the win and we didn’t succeed, but we certainly gave them a good game.
“The next step for us is to have a bit more quality on the ball, but we want to improve all aspects of our game.”