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Mikel Arteta bemoaned two “scandalous” penalty decisions after Premier League leaders Arsenal missed the chance to move 10 points clear following a frustrating goalless draw with Newcastle.
The Gunners dominated proceedings at a sold-out Emirates Stadium but were unable to break down the division’s stingiest defence as they dropped points at home for the first time this season.
Manager Arteta was unhappy that Dan Burn escaped punishment for a second-half shirt pull on Gabriel Magalhaes, while his players surrounded referee Andrew Madley in added time following a possible handball in the box by Magpies substitute Jacob Murphy.
“I’m really proud, the way we played, the way we dominated the game, the approach that we had from the beginning,” said the Spaniard.
“We lacked that spark in the final third to find that opening, to find that right moment and extra pass and a little bit of finishing quality but we had a lot of situations in and around the box to do better.
“And then there were two scandalous penalties. Both of them. It is a penalty or not a penalty and they were both penalties.”
Eddie Nketiah was denied a late winner by a fine save from Magpies goalkeeper Nick Pope before Granit Xhaka struck the ball against the arm of Murphy as a fractious encounter featuring nine yellow cards came to a controversial end.
The stalemate moved Arsenal eight points clear, albeit that advantage could be cut to five when Manchester City travel to Chelsea on Thursday.
It was the first time the Gunners have failed to score this season.
“We wanted to win it and we still have that in the guts that we did more than enough and it merits a different result but we didn’t get it,” continued Arteta.
“And when you can’t win, (make sure you) draw. I think the team was on top of it, we were really chasing it, we really wanted it, you could see that the team was putting everything to take the three points.
“And we lacked that in the final third and we lacked two big decisions.”
Newcastle remain third after becoming the first visiting team to take points off the Gunners since Brighton secured a 2-1 victory in north London in April.
The draw stretched the Magpies’ unbeaten run to 13 league matches on the back of a fourth successive clean sheet.
Manager Eddie Howe played down the hosts’ penalty appeals and said he had no problem with opposition coach Arteta following some heated touchline exchanges between the rival benches.
“I don’t actually remember the first one so I can’t give you a comment on that,” Howe said of Arsenal’s spot-kick claims.
“The handball? If it was the other way around, I would be shouting for it. Probably not with the belief that it should be given because I think the distance is too tight. I don’t think Jacob’s arm is aloft, I think it’s by his side, so for me that shouldn’t be a penalty.
“Mikel’s a top manager, I think he’s done an incredible job here and there were no issues between us.”
On the performance, Howe added: “I’m very pleased with our defensive effort today, very resilient.
“Arsenal are a top team, very good players, a very good way of playing, so we knew we had to be at our very best.”