By Chris Harris

Arsène Wenger hopes and expects that Newcastle will avoid the drop this season.

Arsenal were given a thorough examination in the first half at St. James' Park on Saturday and would have fallen behind had Manuel Almunia not saved Obafemi Martins' penalty. The visitors showed their class in the second half to win 3-1 and leave Newcastle in the bottom three.

The Tyneside club are two points adrift of safety with eight games remaining - starting with Chelsea at home - but Wenger believes Newcastle have the quality to get out of trouble.

"I think that from what I have seen in the first half they will get out of it but the longer the situation lasts the more difficult it is," said the Arsenal manager.

"I wish that Newcastle stay in the League because I like the people here and I like the consistency of support.

"But it will be very close because they have eight games left. They have the quality but they need some results. From what I have seen today they have enough quality to stay up."

Copyright 2014 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source 23 Mar 2009