It was another defeat away from home as The Gunners took on The Magpies at The Sports Arena in what seemed to be a story of the same script, cast on a different day.
Normally, it would be easy to pinpoint the problem from the very onset of the game, that however isn’t the case today.
The Gunners had a delectable lineup as far as strength and rotation goes owing to their Europa duties in Russia.
Joe Willow made his Premier League debut for The North London side in the middle of the park, alongside Granit Xhaka and Mohammed Elneny.
Rob Holding who had a pretty alright outing, partnered by Skhodran Mustafi in the Centre-Back positions and they were flanked by Callum Chambers and Nacho Monreal on the right and left side respectively.
Pierre Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette and Alex Iwobi, occupied the upfront attacking positions.
Taking the lead via a combination play between P.E.A and Lacazette courtesy of an overhead play from Mustafi, set the pace.
By the way, that was the first goal Rafa Benitez’s men had conceded at home since the turn of the new year 2018. A very impressive start for the Gunners to say the least.
The elixir of the lead didn’t last long, as Ayoze Perez put the hosts level from a cutback with a Giroud-esque finish which left Cech stranded in-goal.
Jonjo Shelvey, kept the back line tracking backwards every chance he got with seemingly hopeful yet pinpoint overhead passes, which Dwight Gayle a former Arsenal prodigy, kept meeting with considerable composure.
Halftime ended with a goal a piece to set the second half up for an interesting half of attacking football.
Seeding possession to The Gunners, the hosts kept hitting the visitors on the counter until an ominous throw-in was awarded to the hosts in the Arsenal half.
After some ping-pong defending by Monreal’s header out at the edge of the box. Silmani a substitute in the game connected with the said header and directed his headed pass at Ayoze Perez at the edge of the box, who decided to flick it on to Matt Ritchie and with an aplomb, rocketed a shot past the hapless Petr Cech in-goal to his right for The Magpies.
Despite Wenger’s spot on substitutions with Danny Welbeck and Maitland Niles coming on for Joe Willock and Chambers respectively, The Magpies showed why their record of not conceding wasn’t a fluke as they shut the Gunners raids out at every turn.
As much as the last line holds true, this was more apparent that the Gunners’ midfield, were more interested in finding the perfect pass to unleash The dynamic duo of “LacazAmeyang” thereby passing sideways and backwards for most of the game.
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This trend continued even after going behind in the game thereby helping the Magpies to keep their composure in defence.
Mohammed Diame ensured that everytime the likes of Elneny would like to be brave and move the ball towards the centre-backs to create a dangerous situation, it came to naught with incisive tackles and disruptive runs off the ball, thereby earning him the MoTM award.
It was good to see Wenger make reasonable substitutions and get a taste of what is to come next season from LacazAmeyang.
Other than that, it was just another confirmation that The Gunners had no outside chance of qualifying for the Champions League next season via league position.
This loss brings the record to 13 points from a possible 48 in away games for the Gunners. I believe this has to be a personal worst record for The North London side.
Breakdown of the above;
3 wins =9 points
4 draws = 4 points
& a whooping 9 Losses = 0
Next up is West Ham at home… Yay ? on Sunday the 22nd then on the 26th, Europa league semifinal first leg against Athletico Madrid at the Emirates as well.
Incase you missed the match, you can catch the full highlights here.