Rafael Benitez suggested there was a “big difference” in the quality on show from his Newcastle team and hosts Arsenal in their 2-0 reverse at the Emirates Stadium.
The Magpies boss was proud of his players in defeat and felt they had done enough to ensure things were edgy for the home side.
Goals in each half from Aaron Ramsey and Alexandre Lacazette gave the Gunners their 10th successive home league victory and moved them up to third spot for the first time this term.
The contest was not won until the 83rd minute, when Lacazette finished Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s flick-on with a brilliant lob, and Benitez credited his players for competing well against quality opponents on their own patch.
“I am disappointed because we knew it would be difficult, we knew we could lose,” said the Spaniard.
“But if we concede the first goal, the way we concede the first goal was not ideal and if you don’t take your chances and you are not precise against these teams, then you’ll struggle.
“I am proud of the players because they are trying hard. Today there was a big difference between the teams but we were close enough to be a threat.
“When it was 1-0 we were pushing and you could feel the nerves in the stadium.” Newcastle remain seven points clear of the bottom three following their reverse in north London.
The Magpies are 2.50 to beat Crystal Palace St James’ Park on Saturday. The Eagles are 3.00 and the draw is 3.25.