There were two more goals for Olivier Giroud, a show of team spirit in the second half, when Newcastle somehow created momentum, and by the close of play, Arsenal had moved to within four points of the summit of the Premier League.
It still felt, however, that Arsenal are no nearer to being anything more than a side who will annually find themselves involved in the struggle to get back into the Champions League, the competition they departed in midweek, against Monaco.
Then, the French side held firm against a late rally. Yesterday, Arsenal created something approaching resilience to see off a Newcastle side searching for only their third victory of the calendar year.
Perspective remains important and Newcastle’s malaise and their recent woeful form undermined the sense of pride Wenger took for scrambling to a victory that was not deserved. There remained the feeling that it should not have been anywhere near as difficult as it was.
Giroud scored from two set pieces in the first half, in the 24th minute from a Santi Cazorla free-kick and then, four minutes later, from a Cazorla corner.
It was all so simple then, with Newcastle apathetic and jeered off by their own supporters.
Three minutes into the second half came a rare Moussa Sissoko goal, firing in a Remy Cabella cross, and everything in the game changed.
Arsenal lost control and looked vulnerable. Newcastle, for once, had a bit of momentum. Ayoze Perez went close on three occasions and there was a vociferous shout for a penalty when Calum Chambers blocked a cross with his hand.
“If you say Arsenal doesn’t resist the pressure then after today you have to praise us,” said Wenger. “Yes, the collective desire to resist.
“They were very different halves. We should have had a few more goals in the first half. They made it more physical, then it was hang on and fight together.
“In the end we got three points. The target now is to win the next game, as simple as that and give absolutely everything. The players go away on international games and hopefully they come back fit.”
John Carver, the temporary Newcastle head coach, who has intimated there will be meetings about player recruitment, with his squad down to the bare bones, took pride in his team’s recovery.
“I said to the players at half time to be proud of what you do and be proud of the shirt,” he said. “Give the fans something to shout about. Once we got on the front foot the stadium and the team came alive. I think we deserved more.”
Newcastle: (4-1-4-1) Krul; Taylor, Williamson, Janmaat, Colback; Anita (Gutierrez, 71); Cabella, Sissoko, Gouffran, Ameobi (Armstrong, 89); Perez.
Arsenal: (4-2-3-1) Ospina; Chambers, Gabriel, Koscielny, Monreal; Ramsey, Coquelin; Sanchez (Flamini, 71), Cazorla (Rosicky, 71), Welbeck (Bellerin, 89); Giroud.
Referee: Mike Jones
Man of the match: Giroud (Arsenal)
Match rating: 6/10Reuse content