Mikel Arteta labelled Jorginho “exceptional” after turning Newcastle’s physicality against them, and hailed an Arsenal star they couldn’t have won without.
Arsenal kept their Premier League titles hopes alive after securing a hard-fought 2-0 victory over Newcastle at St. James’ Park.
A ferocious encounter saw the high flying pair go toe-to-toe, but a fantastic strike by Martin Odegaard and an own goal from Fabian Schar settled the contest.
Odegaard rifled home the opener in the 14th minute from fully 25 yards. Schar inadvertently prodded into his own net after failing to deal with a hard-hit cut-back from Gabriel Martinelli.
Both sides hit the woodwork and goalkeepers Aaron Ramsdale and Nick Pope were called upon to make several superb saves. But it was the Gunners who emerged victorious to keep their title hopes alive and leave Newcastle with work to do to secure a top four finish.
Speaking to Sky Sports after the match, Arteta said: “We showed what it takes to come here in this environment and against a great team what it takes to win.
“The desire to keep digging, keep believing, the reward is so big and today we had to do it. We did everything we had to do to win the game.”
Arsenal’s season unravelled at St. James’ Park at a similar stage last season, with a costly 2-0 defeat allowing Tottenham to sneak into fourth spot.
When asked if today’s victory was especially important given what happened 12 months ago, Arteta said: “It is, but that’s why sports in general give you another opportunity.
“You have the privilege to have another opportunity and you have to take it. But you have to learn from those moments and see how you felt in that moment, overcome it and act in a different way. We did that really well today.”
Jorginho dominated Newcastle – Arteta
On Jorginho who was awarded the man of the match by UK broadcaster Sky Sports, Arteta added: “He was exceptional.
“There were question marks because it was going to be really physical (playing Newcastle). [People expect] you to go physicality against physicality, but I think we’d have no chance there.
“We have to try for something different and [Jorginho] understood the game really well. He’s a really intelligent player, he gives a lot of security to the team and he dominated the game in many moments.”
On the early problems Newcastle posed, Arteta admitted: “It was intense and not as good [from Arsenal] as I wanted.
“But we have to keep going, we knew we were going to have moments, whether it’s the first minute, just before half-time or at the end.
“This [Newcastle] crowd, this team has the ability to create those moments and you have to go through them. If you don’t you don’t win, for sure.”
Ramsdale hailed for “brilliant” and “great” moments
Former Newcastle goalkeeper, Shay Given, then probed Arteta for his thoughts on Ramsdale who in Given’s words, produced a series of “brilliant saves”.
“We knew we were going to need him,” added the Gunners boss. “Two or three great saves in key moments when we needed him.
“That’s what you need, individual performances have to be at their best if you want to win here.”
Arteta then proceeded to hail his defence who kept their first clean sheet in eight matches. When asked if he was proud of the way his backline battled, the Spaniard declared: “Absolutely!”