Arsenal lurched ever deeper into crisis as they fell to their eighth away defeat in the Premier League this season with Brighton claiming a 2-1 win at the Amex Stadium — the Gunners’ fourth consecutive loss in all competitions.
Yet another witless performance from the Gunners, who were two down after 28 minutes when Lewis Dunk and Glenn Murray struck simple goals, only heaps further pressure on Arsene Wenger, whose exit was demanded by a vocal group of visiting fans.
Indeed it seems hard to imagine how Arsenal can turn their season around when they were unable to overhaul even this deficit, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang striking moments before half-time.
From the outset, it was apparent that Arsenal had not solved the problems that have been plaguing them ever since the turn of the year – if not before: the defence was disorganised; the shield of Granit Xhaka and Jack Wilshere non-existent.
Sead Kolasinac was a particular fall guy, proving Wenger’s reluctance to play him in a back four to be well-placed. All too often he was caught upfield when Ezequiel Schelotto and Anthony Knockaert led counters down the right, and even when he was in the right place he contrived to shepherd the ball out for a Brighton corner.
By that time Chris Hughton’s side had already snatched an eighth-minute lead, Shane Duffy out jumping Petr Cech at the back post and flicking the ball towards his fellow centre-back Dunk, who sweetly volleyed home.
That was all it took for Arsenal to fall apart. A clumsy Alex Iwobi clearance played Knockaeart through but this time Cech beat his opponent to the ball. Dunk could have doubled the lead but having brushed past Mkhitaryan at a corner, he headed over.
Arsenal were no better at dealing with crosses from open play, Laurent Koscielny and Shkodran Mustafi both leaving Glenn Murray unmarked in the area. There was no doubt he would turn Pascal Gross’ delivery home.
Inevitably the rebellion began in the away end. Within a minute of Brighton’s second the first ‘Wenger Out’ banner was raised. Soon after a vocal section of the travelling supporters chanted: “We Want Wenger Out”.
The boos didn’t come at the half-time whistle as Aubameyang gave the visitors hope, the Gabon striker flicking Granit Xhaka’s shot into the net with three minutes left. Koscielny nearly earned them an undeserved equaliser when his header crashed back off the crossbar.
Whatever methods Wenger employed at half-time had no obvious impact early in the second period as Arsenal continued to labour in possession and leave the door open for Brighton to counter.
Ozil, who had been fuming since the first goal, tried to take control. His rasping shot was parried by Matthew Ryan, who moments later was rounded by Aubameyang only for the hosts to scrabble the ball clear.
When Kolasinac somehow avoided a second yellow after his elbow connected with Schelotto’s face, Arsenal might have used the stoppage to regroup.
Instead they went 19 minutes from just after the hour without even registering a shot, Wenger throwing on 18-year-old Eddie Nkietah in an act of pure desperation.