LONDON — Given fresh legs, this might well have been Arsenal’s day. Battered and bruised by Newcastle’s robust and resolute rearguard, the league leaders saw their momentum slowed in a 0-0 draw though there will be indigence aplenty for Mikel Arteta to harness.

He would rather have the three points, though in truth they never quite looked within reach. When Arsenal could have tested Newcastle’s tiring minds they found that their legs would not carry them beyond. When Arteta looked at the bench there was nothing to turn the tide. This is not merely because of the Mykhaylo Mudryk-shaped hole in the squad; in the rush to garland Arsenal’s front four with praise for their response to Gabriel Jesus’ injury it has perhaps gone unacknowledged how short they are on options in the final third.

It is not just Jesus, indeed one might contend that an impressive display of link play from Eddie Nketiah meant he was not the player who was most missed. Emile Smith Rowe, who is close to finally overcoming the groin issues that have dogged him for two years, and even Reiss Nelson might have turned the tide here as Gabriel Martinelli and Bukayo Saka depleted their energy levels. This Arsenal season has been full of unexpected moments, few have been quite as shocking as that when Saka’s touch took him out of play when he seemed to have burned his full-back yet again.

These two young forwards in particular have carried an extraordinary burden this season. For the first time tonight, it showed. There is a price at which Arsenal will go no further in their pursuit of Mudryk but if putting together an offer that Shakhtar Donetsk cannot refuse means easing the burden on Saka and Martinelli, it should be a high one.

Without Mudryk there was no attacker Arteta trusted to turn the tide. Fabio Vieira, the 22-year-old summer signing from Porto who has waxed and waned so far in England, was not entrusted with picking the lock. The only other attackers on the bench were Marquinhos, yet to play a meaningful minute of Premier League football, and Nathan Butler-Oyedeji, who had never been named in a senior squad before.

Asked why he had only made one change (Takehiro Tomiyasu replacing Ben White), Arteta said: “We were chasing the goal, we were in a good moment and I didn’t want to make any more changes.” As to whether his cause might have been helped if new signings had been made before tonight, he added: “We are really trying to improve the squad in every window. We’re trying to do our best because we cannot waste any windows still with the squad and the numbers that we have. We will try.”

Arteta carried with him into the media room much of the indignation with which he had ended the game, where he had been separated from Eddie Howe by the fourth official after a penalty shout for a possible handball by Jacob Murphy in added time. It was one of two “scandalous” decisions that the Arsenal manager insisted should have resulted in penalties for his side, the other a possible tug by Dan Burn on Gabriel. Howe said he was unsure which was the first penalty that wasn’t but acknowledged that he might have been appealing if roles had been reversed on the handball that wasn’t.

“If it was the other way round I’d be shouting for it,” he acknowledged, “probably not with the belief that it should be given. The distance is too tight. I don’t think Jacob’s arm is aloft, it’s by his side. For me, that shouldn’t be a penalty.” Others, including former Newcastle striker Les Ferdinand, did not share Howe’s view. Arteta refused to be drawn any further on the officiating beyond the initial complaint over the penalties but it did not take much observing on him in the touchline to sense that he might be less than impressed.

Arteta raged at fourth official Jarred Gillett, gesticulating furiously at his watch as Nick Pope once more paused to reflect on life’s deeper questions before taking a goal kick. The ball was in play for 53 of the 90 minutes, the 18th shortest this season and eight minutes shorter than the average, according to Cannon Stats. Certainly, officials at the World Cup would surely have kept the game running beyond five minutes of added time. Howe would insist it was not the case but it was hard to shake the sense that Newcastle had set out to disrupt the momentum of this contest as much as possible.

They are perfectly entitled to do so and it is fair to say that it largely worked. The Magpies were the first team to keep Arsenal goalless this season, giving up a tally of 1.44 expected goals, the lowest Arteta’s side have registered since their wobbles against Southampton and (in victory) Leeds in late October. Eddie Nketiah’s was the only clear-cut chance of the game, a low drive superbly saved by Nick Pope’s outstretched left foot. That and two headers for Gabriels Magalhaes and Martinelli were the sole moments to draw gasps of profound disappointment from the home crowd.

Equally, Arteta could leave the Emirates Stadium feeling that Arsenal’s standing did not take a beating against an opponent that look to have a defense that can take them to the top four. They tilted the field emphatically in their favor, registering 17 shots whilst silencing any threat on the counter by the visitors. Newcastle might have clung on but they did so by placing 11 men within 18 yards of their goal line. Given a bit more time or a substitute that could make a profound impact in the final third, there were another two points in this for them.

Happily the latter rather begets the former. A returning Smith Rowe is imminent. Mudryk may not be far behind. With them Arsenal could have the weapons to overwhelm the defensive wall next time.