Mikel Arteta praises Arsenal’s game management after victory at Newcastle | Arsenal

Mikel Arteta said he was “proud” of his Arsenal side’s game management as they maintained their Premier League title challenge with a hard‑fought win at Newcastle on Sunday.

Although Eddie Howe’s players complained consistently of time wasting on the part of Arteta’s players, most notably the midfielder Granit Xhaka who repeatedly fell to the floor with supposed injuries Newcastle regarded as delaying tactics, Arteta had no complaints.

“The word to describe it is pride,” said the Spaniard, whose side are second, one point behind Manchester City.

“When you have question marks you have to resolve it the right way and put them right. Game management is something huge in the way Newcastle play and we had to do that even better than them.”

There is little doubt any queries about Arsenal’s resilience were answered in the course of a committed and streetwise performance secured by Fabian Schär’s second‑half own goal in the wake of Martin Ødegaard’s first‑half opener.

“We needed a much better performance than any game this season,” Arteta said.

His side’s hopes of Champions League qualification last season were badly damaged when they lost on Tyneside last May. Now, though, the title remains within touching distance despite Manchester City having a game in hand.

“We are nearly there,” Arteta said. “The prize is not too far away. Let’s keep going and see what happens.”

Asked specifically about Xhaka and time wasting he said: “For sure our team is not like that, I don’t want to get close to that conversation. But we have done what we had to do to win the game and I am very happy.”

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Howe’s team remain on course for Champions League qualification but, mindful of a late top‑four challenge from Liverpool, Newcastle’s manager was left frustrated. “It was one of those days it didn’t go for us,” he said. “Without being at our best we had loads of chances and I felt if we’d scored we’d have been very close to getting back in the game. There were moments when I thought we were going to explode but it never quite happened.

“Arsenal are a top quality team and they managed things well, they slowed things down, they’re were loads of breaks in play and it was very frustrating for us. We are a very front foot team and we wanted the ball in play.

“But it was a high quality game. We were just missing the X factor; we need to find it again at Leeds next week. With four games to go it [Champions League qualification] is in our hands. Getting over the line will be hard but this can be a really memorable season for us.”

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