Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said he was proud of his players after they stayed hot on the heels of second-placed Manchester City with a 2-1 Premier League win at Newcastle United on Saturday.
After the heartache of a midweek Champions League exit to Monaco, despite a valiant 2-0 win on the French Riviera, they dug deep into their energy reserves to survive a late Newcastle onslaught at St James’ Park.
Olivier Giroud’s first-half double ultimately proved decisive as the Gunners racked up a sixth successive win in all competitions to remain a point behind City and four adrift of leaders Chelsea who have two games in hand on the chasing pack.
Wenger said his side were running on empty after their energy-sapping exploits on the French Riviera where they bowed out of Europe on away goals.
“We have played four games in two weeks and three away games at Manchester United, Monaco and here today and we’ve won all three,” Wenger told a news conference.
“The last 40 minutes were difficult because our legs had gone a little bit and Newcastle played very well in the second half but we had an outstanding second half going forward. I’m proud of the performance we put in today.”
Giroud has responded in magnificent style after being heavily criticised after the 3-1 home defeat by Monaco.
Since then he has scored four in three games and now has 11 since the beginning of the year.
“He scores the goals, he fights hard and keeps the ball up front. He is like every striker, he wants to score goals and the confidence comes from scoring goals, it’s a vicious circle,” added Wenger.
“He is a fighter and has improved technically.”
With Arsenal on a roll, Wenger was asked whether they could still catch Chelsea with nine games remaining.
“Chelsea have a good security and at the moment I feel they have enough to be quite serene,” he said.
“We have Manchester City in front of us but if you look behind us it is tight as well so the important thing is to win our games. Chelsea have too much security.”