Mikel Arteta complained that Arsenal had been denied two “scandalous penalties” as the Premier League leaders were held to a bruising 0-0 draw by Newcastle on Tuesday. Arteta was furious that Arsenal failed in their appeal for a spot-kick in the final seconds of stoppage time after Jacob Murphy used his arm to block a cross in the penalty area. The Gunners boss also complained that Dan Burn was guilty of a shirt pull on Arsenal defender Gabriel in the area earlier in the second half. Both incidents would have been harsh on Newcastle if a penalty had been awarded, but Arteta was convinced Arsenal had been robbed.
“Extremely proud of my players. The way we played, dominated the game. We had so many situations. And then had two scandalous penalties,” Arteta said.
“There were two penalties. It’s very simple. I’m talking about what I’ve seen. It was two scandalous penalties.”
Of the second penalty call, Newcastle boss Eddie Howe added: “Obviously at that stage of the game you’re thinking ‘god no, the lads have given so much’ and that would have been a travesty for us.
“I didn’t think it was a penalty but you just never know.”
Arsenal inevitably felt a touch of frustration at missing the chance to move 10 points clear of second-placed Manchester City ahead of the champions’ game in hand at Chelsea on Thursday.
It was the first time in six games — and only the second in their last 11 — that Arsenal failed to take maximum points.
Yet there was little to fault Arsenal for in a high-octane performance that could easily have yielded yet another impressive victory in a season that has defied all expectations.
Intriguingly, Arsenal has testing clashes with Tottenham and Manchester United looming in their next two league games.
“We lacked an extra touch or movement to finish these chances. But when you cannot win, you cannot lose and we kept a clean sheet,” Arteta said.
Newcastle weather the storm
For Arsenal to be in control of the title race at the start of 2023 is remarkable enough after 19 years without winning the Premier League.
Yet the sight of Newcastle more than holding their own against the leaders is arguably even more unexpected.
Third-placed Newcastle, unbeaten in their last 12 league games, consolidated their place in the top four with a sixth consecutive clean sheet in all competitions.
The Magpies have made outstanding progress under Howe and the club’s Saudi-backed ownership group.
Becoming the first team to stop Arsenal from winning at home in the league this season was a notable effort, especially since they also became the first club to keep the Gunners off the scoresheet in the league since May.
“It was a very good defensive display and great mentality from the group. The next step for us is to have a little bit more quality on the ball,” Howe said.
If this was a measuring stick game for Newcastle, then Arsenal started with the kind of pace and purpose that threatened to make it an unflattering comparison for the visitors.
With seven goals in 15 league games this season, Arsenal captain Martin Odegaard would have fancied himself with an early chance inside the Newcastle area, but the Dane’s volley whistled over.
Bukayo Saka skipped away from Joelinton for a shot that was saved by Nick Pope, who watched with relief moments later as Granit Xhaka fired into the side-netting after another incisive Arsenal raid.
Gabriel reached Odegaard’s free-kick, but the defender’s header bounced inches wide.
Newcastle midfielder Joelinton should have brought a frantic first half to a dramatic conclusion when he stooped for a far-post header that flashed just over.
As a rash of bookings raised the temperature to boiling point, Arsenal’s Gabriel Martinelli went close with a header that looped narrowly wide from Odegaard’s corner.
Eddie Nketiah had an even better chance in the 88th minute but Pope kept out the striker’s low strike to ensure the points were shared.