Our penultimate away game of the season resulted in three valuable and hard-earned points as we ran out 2-0 victors against Newcastle United at St James’ Park.
Here are five things you might have missed during a high-octane encounter between two of the top three sides in the Premier League.
Martin Odegaard has now racked up 15 goals this season. No midfielder has ever scored more non-penalty goals in a single Premier League campaign.
It’s also the first time we have ever had two players (along with Gabriel Martinelli) reach 15 in the same Premier League season.
And what a strike it was. After soaking up the early pressure, it was our first attempt at goal, but the finish was pure composure from the skipper. Similar to his finish away to Tottenham earlier this season, he took a touch, steadied himself, then picked his spot and drilled it home left-footed.
Of his 15 goals this season, nine have come away from home – only Erling Haaland and Harry Kane have netted more on the road, and along with his eight assists in all competitions, it adds up to a simply stunning contribution from our captain.
Winning the physical battle
Make no mistake, this was a victory built on hard work, resilience and a huge amount of desire. Newcastle are formidable at home, and chasing Champions League football, they were always going to throw everything at us throughout the 90 minutes. Their intentions were clear from the first whistle – they had two decent attempts in the opening 180 seconds. But it’s a challenge we didn’t shirk all afternoon.
Newcastle’s frustrations boiled over at various stages in the game, and it was amazing that referee Chris Kavanagh didn’t show a card until the 73rd minute. By then they had committed more than 10 fouls – including four from Bruno Guimaraes and three from Joelinton without a booking.
But the experienced duo of Granit Xhaka and Jorginho in midfield was key in ensuring we wouldn’t be bullied by their approach, and we retained our discipline and control magnificently.
Another one bites the dust
Newcastle had lost just four times all season, and just once at home, but today they became the 17th different team we have beaten in the Premier League this season. Southampton and Manchester City are the only sides we have not recorded at least one victory against (two draws in the case of the Saints).
It’s the first time we have beaten this many opponents in a single league season since 2011/12, and is a sign of the remarkable consistency Mikel Arteta’s men have shown throughout the campaign.
This was our 25th league win this season, the most we’ve ever amassed in a 38-game campaign was 26 – both in title-winning seasons.
Making our point(s)
And such a record obviously results in an impressive points tally. We are now up to 81 points after 35 games played, the only time we have reached the 80-point mark earlier in a season was the unbeaten 2003/04 title success.
Indeed from 119 league seasons, we have only amassed more than 81 points on five occasions, and not at all since 2007/08. We can still reach 90 this season, which would match our best ever return - set by the Invincibles of 2003/04.
It’s enough to ensure we will finish at least second this season – we can no longer be caught by Newcastle or Manchester United.
With just one away game remaining this season, we’ve accrued 39 points on the road, more than any other side, and our goal tally is also notable - our two at St James’ Park takes it to 83, our highest since 2009/10 and 22 more than last season.
Ramsdale at it again
In a game full of positive contributions across the board, Aaron Ramsdale deserves a special mention.
He made five saves, including one on 49 minutes from Fabian Schar that was another contender for Save of the Season. The defender was left alone in the area in a central position, six yards from goal, and met the right-wing cross with a firm header. It looked destined for the net, until our keeper reached down a strong right wrist to parry the ball away to relative safety.
He deserved his clean sheet – our first after eight games without one – and the England man has now become only the third different goalkeeper to record 10 away clean sheets in a single Premier League season. Nobody has more than 11.
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