Arsenal’s wait for a first away point in the Premier League this season endures as another display defined by the error-strewn defence of Shkodran Mustafi saw them turn an early lead over Newcastle into a 2-1 defeat at St James’ Park.
No other side in the top flight have lost all their games on the road this season but Arsene Wenger’s troops are now nought-for-five in 2018. Their losing run seemed set to end when Alexandre Lacazette volleyed them into a 14th minute lead but their defence could not hold Newcastle at bay.
First Perez beat Mustafi at the near post to draw the Magpies level before half-time and then both Nacho Monreal and the German made a mess of a simple scenario as Matt Ritchie struck the winner 22 minutes from time.
For the first time since the latter’s January arrival Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang lined up in the same starting XI, with Joe Willock the latest youngster from Arsenal’s academy to be handed a Premier League debut.
Arsenal seemed to be holding Newcastle at bay despite the Magpies disciplined rally and could have doubled their lead when Aubameyang cut in from the left but drove over, his shot taking a feint deflection off Jamal Lascelles’ hand.
The Gunners’ defence in particular was impressing but their ability to self-inflict problems cannot be underestimated.
Neither side were able to muster up much in the way of attack in the second half, Matt Ritchie’s drive over 20 minutes into the period the first time either side had mustered up a shot on goal.
He would do much better moments later as once more Arsenal’s defence switched off. Monreal looped a clearing header up and far away from safety. Mustafi ambled in pursuit of the ball and Newcastle worked the ball from left to right and Ritchie, who struck a well-placed effort beyond Cech.
As Arsenal threw men forward they left gaps at the back that Kenedy and Perez nearly exploited whilst at the other end the Gunners just couldn’t manufacture space to get convincing shots away on Dubravka’s goal.
FT: Newcastle 2-1 Arsenal
Perez 29′, Ritchie 68′ | Lacazette 14′