Arsenal stayed in touch with Manchester City at the top of the Premier League after a crucial 2-0 victory against third-place Newcastle.
Martin Ødegaard’s long-range strike and Fabian Schär’s own goal wrapped up the win for Arsenal, though both teams could have easily scored more over the course of the fast-paced, entertaining match.
The result sees the Gunners move a point behind Manchester City having played one game more than the defending champion.
City, which defeated Leeds 2-1 on Saturday, is still the favorite to triumph come the end of the season, but Arsenal’s performance against a strong Newcastle side demonstrated an unwillingness to give up on the title race.
“I think we showed something special today, to come here and win is not easy,” Ødegaard, who scored twice in a 3-1 win against Chelsea on Tuesday, told Sky Sports.
“The way we did it as well – we had to be very smart, we had to be a bit ugly at times. I think this is a big step for us, a young team coming here and doing all the things we did. It shows we’ve come a long way.”
Sunday’s game got off to a frantic start as Jacob Murphy hit the post for Newcastle in the second minute before the home side also had a penalty – initially awarded for handball against Jakub Kiwior – ruled out following a video assistant referee review.
Despite Newcastle’s bright start, Arsenal took the lead through Ødegaard’s brilliant shot from outside the box – the Norwegian’s 15th league goal of the season.
Both teams had chances later in the first half – Arsenal when Gabriel Martinelli and then Bukayo Saka were denied by Nick Pope and Newcastle when Joe Willock forced a good save from Aaron Ramsdale.
The two goalkeepers produced excellent saves throughout the match, notably when Pope used his feet to stop Ødegaard getting a second right at the end of the first half and also when Schär’s close-range header was palmed away by Ramsdale.
Martinelli nearly extended Arsenal’s lead when he hit the bar before playing a crucial role as his side did go 2-0 ahead, driving into the Newcastle box before seeing his cross deflected in by Schär’s attempted interception.
With that own goal, Arsenal could see out the remainder of the game in a more comfortable fashion.
Mikel Arteta’s side has another tough test against Brighton on Sunday before finishing the season with games against Nottingham Forest and Wolves – all of which Arsenal realistically has to win in order to boost its slim chances of overtaking City at the top of the table.
“The desire to keep digging, keep believing – that reward is so big,” Arteta told Sky Sports. “Today, we had to do it here and we did everything we had to do to win the game.”