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Arsenal goalkeeper Petr Cech unable to explain terrible away form

Evening Standard logo Evening Standard 16/04/2018 james olley
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Petr Cech has admitted Arsenal are at a loss to explain their dismal domestic away form and rued the individual mistakes that have undermined their season.

The Gunners suffered their ninth Premier League defeat on the road this season with a 2-1 reverse at Newcastle which leaves them virtually certain of missing out on a top-four finish for the second consecutive season.

Arsene Wenger’s side have won on four of their six Europa League trips — and face a two-legged semi-final against Atletico Madrid which begins later this month — but those displays are in stark contrast to their League results.

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Arsenal have not picked up a point outside of the Emirates Stadium in 2018 with just three away League victories all season — at Everton, Burnley and Crystal Palace. 

Bottom club West Brom have conceded fewer away goals than the Gunners’ 26, a tally added to on Sunday by Ayoze Perez and Matt Ritchie after Alexandre Lacazette had opened the scoring at St James’ Park.

Shkodran Mustafi was slow to react as Perez met DeAndre Yedlin’s cross for Newcastle’s equaliser before Nacho Monreal’s aimless defensive header inadvertently led to Ritchie scoring the winner. And after Arsenal lost five successive away League matches for the first time since December 1984, Cech said: “It is very difficult to explain why because until last season we were one of the best teams in terms of the away record but somehow it has completely reversed this season and we don’t seem to find the answer for it. 

“When you commit so many team mistakes, away or home, you get punished and Sunday proved that. Of course, you try to address that but clearly the same things are happening. We don’t do these mistakes — the team mistakes — when we play at home. Unfortunately, it has affected our results.

“Having gone 1-0 up, we were pretty much in control. The continuation of errors for the second goal kind of sums up our season. It devalues the good things we have done with errors.”

Wenger made six changes to the team who drew 2-2 at CSKA Moscow last Thursday, with Calum Chambers drafted in at right-back and Rob Holding alongside Mustafi at the heart of defence.

However, Cech refused to pinpoint the upheaval as the reason for Arsenal’s instability at the back. “We played with this defence many times, so the players this far into the season know what to expect from each other,” he said. “But when you make mistakes, you have to find the reason. We gave them the second goal which decided the game.

“We are in the two competitions, so we need to keep switching between them and do our best. We are in a position where we must win all our remaining games and hope it lifts us in the table.

“We are in a very difficult moment because everybody else has a big advantage. In the Europa League we have a semi-final to play so we need to make sure we are ready.

“It is not the first time we were 1-0 up away and we didn’t get anything in the game.”

Arsenal have lost from winning positions against Newcastle, Bournemouth, Swansea and Watford, dropping 18 points in total when leading matches.

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