Rob Elliot says Newcastle United’s New Year resolution must be to start taking their chances – before it’s too late.
Steve McClaren’s relegation-threatened Magpies suffered a third successive 1-0 defeat on Saturday, Laurent Koscielny claiming all three points for the leaders with a close-range second-half strike.
Newcastle, who overcame a difficult to start to dominate the match, had chances of their own before Koscielny’s 72nd-minute intervention.
But yet again, they failed to capitalise on their opportunities – their best chances fell to Aleksandar Mitrovic and Georginio Wijnaldum – and the game underlined the need for a striking reinforcement in this month’s transfer window.
While fit-again goalkeeper Elliot was heartened by the Tynesiders’ overall performance, he was frustrated that it was not enough even to secure a point.
“They (Arsenal) started really well, but you’d expect that coming here,” said Elliot, who returned to the starting XI after recovering from a bout of sickness.
“We grew into the game and had the better chances.
“Petr Cech did well and we worked him a lot, but we have to start taking our chances.
“If we come away to a place like this and dominate like we did, then, when chances come along, we have to make sure we take them.
“It would be more of a worry if we weren’t creating the chances, but it’s a definitely a worry that we’re not putting them away.
“It’s good that we’re creating the chances though, especially when you consider we were playing the team at the top of the league.
“But it counts for nothing at the end, and we need to start turning these performances into results.
“I’d certainly argue that we were the better team in terms of possession, but, again, the final stats show that we lost 1-0.
“there’s a lot of positives though, and I don’t think many teams will come here to Arsenal and do what we did to them.
“We had them camped in their own half for the last 20 minutes of the first half and the start of the second half, but we need to take what we’re doing forward and improve on the finishing.”
Sunderland closed the gap between themselves and 18th-placed Newcastle to two points with a 3-1 win over Aston Villa, while other results also went against the Magpies, notably Norwich and Chelsea both winning and Bournemouth earning a surprise point at Leicester.
But Elliot said: “We shouldn’t really be looking at what anyone else is doing, because it doesn’t really matter if we’re not picking up points.
“If we’re losing games, then it doesn’t really matter what anyone else is doing.
“The most important thing is that we make sure we start picking up points again, and then we can start looking at the table.
“We’re into January now, so we have to make sure we start moving up the table.”
Elliot feels Newcastle have the right blend of youth and experience in the squad, and he has also insisted that there are no “bad eggs” in the dressing room.
With preparations beginning for Saturday’s tough FA Cup third round trip to Watford, Elliot feels the team’s performance against Arsenal was, at least, a “good sign” ahead of a challenging few months.
“At least the way we’re playing is a good sign for the New Year, along with the chances that we’re creating,” he said.
“We have to take that forward, and take it into games and start getting results.”
Arsenal: Cech, Bellerin, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal, Flamini, Ramsey, Oxlade-Chamberlain (Campbell 68), Ozil, Walcott (Gibbs 81), Giroud (Chambers 89). Subs not used: Gabriel, Ospina, Iwobi, Reine-Adelaide. Booked: Flamini, Ozil. Goal: Koscielny 72
Newcastle: Elliot, Janmaat, Mbemba, Coloccini, Dummett, Sissoko, Tiote (De Jong 87), Colback (Thauvin 79), Wijnaldum, Perez, Mitrovic. Subs not used: Gouffran, Lascelles, Darlow, Toney, Mbabu. Booked: Colback, Janmaat
Att: 59,257. Ref: Anthony Taylor (Cheshire)