Arsene Wenger praised Arsenal’s “resilience” after his team came away from St. James’ Park on Sunday with all three points in a narrow 1-0 win over Newcastle, which left the Gunners top of the Premier League standings heading into the New Year. A 65th-minute header from Olivier Giroud was all that separated the sides in what was a decidedly tetchy battle from start to finish. After the game, Wenger praised his team’s versatility for being able to win a physical and mentally exhausting game.
“In the last 15 minutes we showed another aspect of our team, resilience and fight and we threw our bodies in the box,” the French tactician said. “We showed a lot of resilience. You have seen today a technical aspect of our team that was quite good and also a mental aspect that was needed in a game of that stature. There is something in the team that is special on that front. On the mental front, where we have been questioned many times, we have shown that at West Ham and again today, it was backs to the walls in the last 15 minutes. There is a great solidarity and a great spirit in the side.”
Meanwhile, Wenger’s counterpart Alan Pardew was less than impressed with the quality of the refereeing from Lee Probert. “In terms of the breaks of the decisions, I don’t want to say the referee had a poor game but sometimes he sees those calls and they go your way and sometimes they don’t,” the Newcastle boss said regarding Probert’s decision not to award a foul on Vernon Anita prior to the play leading up to Giroud’s goal. “At Stoke we had all the calls go our way and today perhaps we were on the other side of it. The margins are so fine. If we can stay like that against the top teams all year I will be relatively happy because I think we will win three or four of them."