Mikel Arteta was pleased with the attitude of his players as his much-rotated Arsenal overcame Newcastle 2-0 at St James’ Park.
An early strike from Mohamed Elneny – the Egyptian’s first Premier League goal since joining the club in 2016 – and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s close-range finish did the damage to end the week on a positive note after disappointment in Spain on Thursday.
Four points adrift of seventh-place Sp*rs and having played a game more, it looks unlikely that the Gunners will sneak into Europa via the league, but the boss refuses to give up on the situation.
“This game showed our focus is still there in the Premier League,” Arteta told Sky Sports.
“We believe that anything is possible if you’re picking up points and we wanted to put bad results out of the way.
“We had a great attitude from the beginning, some big moments of real quality and had total control from the start.”
Explaining the reason for rotating his starting lineup so much, he added: “We refreshed the team because we’ve played so many games.
“Thursday was very demanding – we played 40 minutes with 10 men – but the team was really committed and focussed on this game and that’s why we won.
“We controlled the game and we accelerated it when we needed to. The early goal gave us confidence which we needed after the defeat on Thursday.
“We have to do as well as we can and finish as high as we can.”
The only negative this afternoon was an injury to David Luiz. Just back from seven games on the sidelines, the Brazilian pulled up with a hamstring problem and had to be substituted just after half time. He limped off looking dejected.
“It’s incredible the amount of injuries we’ve had,” said Arteta. “We’re losing big players but there’s nothing we can do about it.
“It’s a shame because David had made a big effort to be available as quick as possible after surgery on his knee. Today, probably, we lose him again.”