Calm heads are required when a Premier League title race begins to heat up so the sight of apoplectic Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta racing down the touchline in stoppage time against Newcastle United to harangue an official does not augur well.
Even less so as Arteta’s fury was entirely misplaced.
The Spaniard was convinced his side should have been awarded a penalty when Granit Xhaka’s cut back hit the arm of Newcastle’s Jacob Murphy -- despite Murphy’s arm being in a ‘natural’ position and the ball hitting him from very close range.
Arteta described the non-penalty, and an earlier one when Dan Burn grabbed Gabriel’s shirt, as ‘scandalous’.
Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville said “never in a million years” was it a penalty and even the majority of diehard Arsenal fans would probably agree that Arteta got it wrong and that the real issue was Arsenal’s lack of guile.
The late controversy in the 0-0 draw rather distracted from how Newcastle had so effectively dealt with an Arsenal side who until Tuesday had scored in every game they had played this season and who had previously not dropped any home points.
That was perhaps the reason Arteta was so worked up, as in Newcastle’s astute manager Eddie Howe he met his match.
Apart from a flurry of early pressure when Newcastle were briefly rocked, Arsenal’s attacking supply lines were badly disrupted throughout the contest and they rarely threatened to penetrate the visiting defence.
Bukayo Saka, unstoppable of late, was shackled while on the other flank Gabriel Martinelli also faded, leaving Arsenal trying to thread their way through the middle against a team built on defensive discipline from front to back.
Howe served up the perfect blueprint of how to stop free-flowing Arsenal and Arteta will need to have a Plan B in the coming weeks as other teams set up in similar fashion.
While the result offered a reality check for Arsenal, the fact that they are ‘disappointed’ that their lead in the title race was restricted to eight points speaks volumes for how far the club has come under Arteta.
A year ago they were outside the top four and the turn of the New Year saw them crash out of two domestic cup competitions as well as dropping points in the league.
They have lost only once in the league all season, have kept eight clean sheets in 17 games and scored 40 goals, a figure bettered only by Manchester City.
So a 0-0 draw against a Newcastle side whose third place is not at all flattering is no real cause for alarm.
“If someone told us in January that we would be in this position, we would sign straight away,” Xhaka said.
“We have to keep going, keep working on small details and keep focused for the next game. It’s only a point, of course, but this point could be massive at the end of the season.”
With champions Manchester City able to cut the gap to five points on Thursday if they win at Chelsea, Arsenal will need to take a deep breath and keep cool over the next month with games against Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester United and City looming.
- RCBW vs GGW WPL 2024 Live Score Updates: Renuka double strike dents Gujarat, Live Streaming Info
- Treesa Jolly and Gayatri Gopi Chand - Double(s) delight for Indian badminton
- DY Patil T20 Cup 2024: Ishan Kishan makes losing return to competitive cricket
- UWNL 2024: FIFA Women’s World Cup winner Spain eyes Nations League title
- Don’t take the game lightly and never consider yourself bigger than the game: Chandrakant Pandit