Martin Odegaard said Arsenal were motivated by revenge after thrashing Newcastle United to stay in touch with Liverpool and Manchester City in the Premier League title race.
The Gunners suffered their first league defeat of the season in controversial fashion at St James’ Park in November.
Anthony Gordon’s winner was the subject of an unusual triple VAR check that lasted several minutes as the referees checked whether the ball had gone out, fouled and offside before awarding it.
Manager Mikel Arteta described the VAR decision as “disgraceful” and a “disgrace”, while Arsenal also felt that Bruno Guimaraes was lucky to escape a red card for elbowing Jorginho.
But while Arsenal are in the title race, Newcastle languish in eighth place and the gulf in class between the two teams was evident at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday night.
Martin Odegaard celebrates Arsenal’s 4-1 victory over Newcastle as he kept pace with Liverpool and Manchester City in the race for the Premier League title.
Odegaard celebrates with Gabriel Arsenal’s first, Sven Botman’s own goal
The Arsenal captain said Arsenal’s sense of injustice after a controversial VAR call against them in the second leg at Newcastle in November provided him with “extra fire”.
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Sven Botman’s own goal was followed by Kai Havertz, Bukayo Saka and Jakub Kiwior before Joe Willock grabbed a late consolation.
Captain Odegaard said: “I think what happened to us against Newcastle last time gave us a bit more fire today.”
“Although we were feeling a little tired, after a lot of games, a lot of distance covered in the last few games, we just wanted to come here and have a good game and give the fans a good night.” And we did it.’
Regarding his leadership role at Arsenal, the Norwegian added on TNT Sports: “I try to lead by example, I try to do the right things, I try to have a good mentality by always pushing the players around me.” Do what is best for the team.
“That’s the main thing, getting the best out of each player and understanding that each player is different.”
Arteta’s side could have been scarred last season, when they squandered a substantial lead at the top of the table to allow City to win the trophy.
But Arsenal are back in contention, moving to within two points of Liverpool after City also closed the gap by beating Bournemouth 1-0 earlier in the day.
“That was the moment to show them what we learned last season,” Odegaard added.
Anthony Gordon’s winning goal for Newcastle in November proved highly controversial
The first question the VAR checked was whether Joe Willock managed to keep the ball in play.
Officials then tried to determine if this was a push toward Gabriel by Joelinton.
The third part of the VAR check was whether Gordon was offside when he shot the ball.
“The year before we missed the Champions League and we came back very strong and showed that we were much better.
‘Last year we missed the title and now is the time to show that we have learned something. We really enjoyed playing together. Every time we play, we are very excited.
‘I think we’re all living the dream. I think we have all dreamed of being here, on a bigger stage and in the best league in the world. Every week you see how competitive and how good he is.
‘We want to fight for trophies and that’s what we’re going to do. Try to be there and try hard every day.’
Next Monday Arsenal will play against Sheffield United.
Arsenal continued their brilliant form with a convincing victory over Newcastle at the Emirates
A Bukayo Saka corner caused havoc and Sven Botman found the back of his own goal.
Kai Havertz doubled Arsenal’s lead in the 24th minute with a close-range shot
Bukayo Saka continued his excellent form and scored the third goal in the 65th minute.
Jakub Kiwior scored the goal four minutes later, with a header following a Rice corner.