It all started so well. Arsenal hit the ground running, relatively speaking, and while the first 20 minutes here didn’t match the first half against CSKA, the opening period of this game didn’t really make me feel like the game was going to go sideways at any point. In the 14th minute, Alexandre Lacazette finished a move that started with an amazing Shkodran Mustafi pass - Mustafi’s ball found Aubameyang, who tapped it square over to Lacazette for the finish, and everything looked to be in order.
Then, in the 29th minute, Newcastle decided to almost exactly copy that goal, with Jonjo Shelvey playing the Shkodran Mustafi role and firing a long pass down to Dwight Gayle, and two passes later, the game was level at one.
Throughout the game, Shelvey was the sharp knife carving through the increasingly soft butter that was the Arsenal defense; it’s rare that I will ever say something like this, because every team involved in more than one competition has to deal with it, but the Thursday/Sunday schedule of the Europa League looks to be catching up with Arsenal.
The second half saw Arsenal looking very sluggish and a step or two off as the half wore on, and with 20 minutes to go, Newcastle pounced again, after three Arsenal defenders forgot that they were Arsenal defenders and let Matt Richie in behind them with nary a glance, and Richie slammed home what would prove to be the game winner, grateful for the freedom he’d been given.
20 minutes later, the game was over, and Arsenal still have not won a league game away from the Emirates in 2018. Three of Arsenal’s last five Premier League games are on the road (Manchester United, Leicester, Huddersfield), so hopefully, with nothing left to play for in the league except a cementing of sixth place (there’s a narrow chance they could nick fifth, but Chelsea are six points clear of Arsenal at this point), they’ll at least go the point-of-pride angle and try to fix what’s wrong with them on their travels before the season grinds to a merciful close.