Wednesday, January 04, 2023

By Ed Elliot, PA

Mikel Arteta insists Arsenal cannot waste any opportunity to strengthen their small squad as they seek to continue as the Premier League’s pacesetters.

The table-topping Gunners’ title charge suffered a minor setback on Tuesday as they missed the chance to move 10 points clear following a fractious goalless draw with Newcastle.

Manager Arteta has used only 12 players in his three starting XIs since the World Cup, with his options depleted by the injury absences of attacking duo Gabriel Jesus and Emile Smith Rowe.

The Spaniard, who was furious not to be awarded two second-half penalties in the Magpies stalemate, says the club are working to recruit reinforcements this month.

“It’s something more for Edu (sporting director) and the board to respond to,” Arteta, who made just one substitution against Eddie Howe’s men, said of potential January arrivals.

“We are really trying to improve the squad in every window, this is no different.

“We will try to do our best because we cannot waste any window. We’re still with the squad and the numbers that we had (at the start of the season) but we will try.”

Arsenal dominated possession against third-placed Newcastle but created few clear chances as their 100 per cent home record ended following their first scoreless league outing of the season.

Eddie Nketiah was thwarted by Magpies goalkeeper Nick Pope late on, while Arteta said it was “scandalous” that his side were not awarded spot-kicks for Dan Burn’s pull on Gabriel Magalhaes and a possible added-time handball by Jacob Murphy.

The result increased the Gunners’ advantage at the summit to eight points, albeit that lead will be cut to five if reigning champions Manchester City win at Chelsea on Thursday.

Midfielder Granit Xhaka said it was important to put Arsenal’s position in perspective on the back of a frustrating evening at Emirates Stadium.

“We had chances and the small details we missed, but this is part of the game,” the Switzerland international told his club’s website.

“And if someone told us (at the start of the season) that we would be in this position in January, we would sign straight away.

“We have to keep going, keep working on small details and keep focused for the next game.

“After this season, the people expect to win all the games, but this is football.

“It can happen in games like this where we’re not so lucky and small things are missing.

“It’s only a point, of course, but this point could be massive at the end of the season.”

Newcastle extended their unbeaten run to 13 top-flight games by equalling the club record of six consecutive clean sheets in all competitions.

Magpies defender Burn felt the game, which included nine yellow cards and some heated moments on the touchline, demonstrated his side’s growing resolve.

“A couple of years back we probably would have got absolutely battered there but I think it shows the group of lads we’ve got and the resilience within the team,” he told NUFC TV.

“A lot of people had written us off but we’ve got a lot of confidence in the team.

“Coming here, they’d won every single game this season and to get a clean sheet and take a point is really good.

“That’s a big thing about the team, we won’t get pushed over easy. We’re a good group of lads and we stick with each other and give as good as we get.”

Comments are closed.

Contact Newsdesk: +353 59 9170100

More National Sport

Conor McGregor set for UFC return