The Gunners led at St James’ Park through Alexandre Lacazette’s 14th-minute strike, but a side featuring six changes from the one which drew in Moscow on Thursday evening to secure a Europa League semi-final berth eventually succumbed 2-1 to goals from Ayoze Perez and Matt Ritchie.
Disappointed manager Wenger said: “I think it’s very difficult to combine the Europa League on Thursday night and then playing Sunday morning. You play in Moscow, you come home, you play again away from home.
“This game is a bit special. On top of that, I must say the attitude of our team was spot on from the start.
“But it didn’t work and I have to be realistic enough to say that maybe our balance offensively and defensively doesn’t work.”
Asked if he was concerned that his team has not picked up a single point away from home since the turn of the year, the Frenchman said: “Of course it’s a concern because traditionally we have a very strong record away from home.
“It has a subconscious weight in our minds. Once you’re in a negative spiral like that, it’s very difficult to get out.”
Arsenal are the only team in England’s top four leagues who have failed to secure an away point in 2018.— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) 15 April 2018
Here’s how Arsene Wenger responded to today’s defeat.
👉 https://t.co/52bXKLjNPR pic.twitter.com/dubYCvyPS9
By contrast, Newcastle boss Rafael Benitez was in jubilant mood after his team eased past the 40-point survival target he set them at the start of the season, courtesy of a battling performance which saw them play second fiddle for long periods before launching a spirited fightback.
The Magpies are desperate to tie up the Spaniard to an extended deal with his current contract about to enter its final year, and while he was giving nothing away, the future is on his mind.
He said: “Today, I was really pleased with everything I have seen, but at the same time, we are professionals and we have to be sure that next year, we have the tools to compete at the level we want to compete at.
“As I have already said, we did not expect to be here at this stage of the season. We are really pleased with that and now we have to try to get higher in the table.”
Jay Rodriguez headed the only goal of a dull encounter at Old Trafford on Sunday, handing the bottom-placed Baggies a 1-0 victory that confirmed Premier League leaders City as champions.
With five games remaining, Pep Guardiola’s City now have an unassailable 16-point lead at the top of the table.
United manager Mourinho said: “I knew that sooner or later that (they) would be (champions) and if I was in their position I would be very upset if somebody said that they won the title because Manchester United lost against West Bromwich Albion.
“They won the title because they were the best team, because they won a great amount of points. They lost only two matches because they were the best team. That’s the reason why they were champions.”
United delayed City’s title celebrations by winning last week’s derby at the Etihad Stadium but Mourinho admitted that victory had a hollow feel.
He said: “Probably because I (have) won eight championships I was not (over) the moon with the victory against them, because that doesn’t make me feel super happy.”
Mourinho suggested he had already congratulated his rivals in advance.
He said: “I don’t know if I was the first or if I was the second or the third, but I congratulated them face-to-face when I had the chance to do it.”
United were way off the pace that saw them overturn a 2-0 deficit to win 3-2 with a superb second-half display at the Etihad Stadium a week ago.
Ander Herrera had a strong penalty appeal turned down in the first half and Romelu Lukaku forced a good point-blank save from Ben Foster but West Brom were otherwise largely untroubled.
“We were masters in complicated football, everything was complicated,” said Mourinho. “We couldn’t play fast, we couldn’t think fast, everything was complicated. They always had time to organise themselves.”
Congratulations to Manchester City on their Premier League title win.— Manchester United (@ManUtd) 15 April 2018
West Brom remain nine points adrift of safety with just four games remaining and seem unlikely to stave off relegation, but caretaker boss Darren Moore was pleased with their efforts.
Moore said: “It was a good performance and we got our just rewards in the end. We have come up against a very, very good side in Manchester United but everyone stuck to their job and did everything we asked of them.”
City had moved to the brink of glory with victory at Tottenham on Saturday but the crowning moment came in unexpected circumstances as Jay Rodriguez headed the bottom side to a 1-0 win at Old Trafford.
That prompted jubilation in the blue half of Manchester and a group of players including captain Vincent Kompany, Bernardo Silva, Kyle Walker, Fabian Delph and John Stones partied in public at a bar in Hale, near Altincham.
Earlier, Kompany had been watching United’s game in the presence of TV cameras and he was quick to set his team-mates the target of retaining the title next season.
“I suppose my team-mates will roll their eyes a little bit but I kind of want to see what the reaction is now,” the Belgian, also a title-winner in 2012 and 2014, told Sky Sports. “I have never retained a title so I want to see if this team’s got it to carry on and be even more successful.”
Kompany said he shared that ambition with manager Pep Guardiola, who has now won 23 major trophies in a glittering managerial career that has included glorious spells at Barcelona and Bayern Munich.
“I think we share one thing maybe, the hunger and desire to never be satisfied,” said Kompany.
“This is not a dynasty, it is one title we’ve won. We’re still super happy but there’s is so much to do before we unlock our full potential.”
Guardiola himself had said he would not be watching the United game and instead played golf with world number 12 Tommy Fleetwood at Sandiway Golf Club in Northwich, Cheshire.
Yet, knowing the job was almost done, he gave his players a ringing endorsement after they returned to their best with a superb 3-1 win over Spurs at Wembley on Saturday.
City had lost their previous three games to slip out of the Champions League to Liverpool and miss an early opportunity to wrap up the title against United.
“It’s incredible the way we played and I am so glad to be here and be part of this club,” Guardiola said. “These guys are fantastic, awesome – they are incredible. This club is absolutely amazing in all terms.”
With the title won while City were not on the pitch, they will not get the chance to celebrate the win fully with fans until they return to action against Swansea at the Etihad Stadium next Sunday.