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The Gunners led at St James’ Park through Alexandre Lacazette‘s 14th-minute strike, but a side featuring six changes from the one which drew in Moscow on Thursday evening to secure a Europa League semi-final berth eventually succumbed 2-1 to goals from Ayoze Perez and Matt Ritchie.
Disappointed manager Wenger said: ‘I think it’s very difficult to combine the Europa League on Thursday night and then playing Sunday morning. You play in Moscow, you come home, you play again away from home.
‘This game is a bit special. On top of that, I must say the attitude of our team was spot on from the start.
‘But it didn’t work and I have to be realistic enough to say that maybe our balance offensively and defensively doesn’t work.’
Asked if he was concerned that his team has not picked up a single point away from home since the turn of the year, the Frenchman said: ‘Of course it’s a concern because traditionally we have a very strong record away from home.
‘It has a subconscious weight in our minds. Once you’re in a negative spiral like that, it’s very difficult to get out.’
By contrast, Newcastle boss Rafael Benitez was in jubilant mood after his team eased past the 40-point survival target he set them at the start of the season, courtesy of a battling performance which saw them play second fiddle for long periods before launching a spirited fightback.
The Magpies are desperate to tie up the Spaniard to an extended deal with his current contract about to enter its final year, and while he was giving nothing away, the future is on his mind.
He said: ‘Today, I was really pleased with everything I have seen, but at the same time, we are professionals and we have to be sure that next year, we have the tools to compete at the level we want to compete at.
‘As I have already said, we did not expect to be here at this stage of the season. We are really pleased with that and now we have to try to get higher in the table.’