Arsenal's Arsene Wenger blames Newcastle defeat on fatigue from Moscow trip
Arsene Wenger blamed Arsenal's loss at Newcastle on fatigue following Thursday's Europa League trip to Moscow, but admitted that the manner of the defeat summed up their away form for the entire season.
Arsenal took an early lead but lost 2-1 for their fifth straight Premier League away loss, their worst such streak in the Premier League era.
In total, it was their 11th away loss of this disappointing league campaign, and left them five points behind fifth-place Chelsea.
"It's a bit the story of the season. We had 70 percent of the ball, were 1-0 up and in the end you lose 2-1 and you wonder how you can lose this game," Wenger told a news conference.
"That's what happened today. I think the game could have been over at halftime. We conceded two goals from nowhere. In the second half I feel that some players paid a little bit physically having played the game on Thursday night in Moscow.
"We came back on Friday morning late. Overall we played with a good spirit but with a bad result. We have to deal with that unfortunately. It's very disappointing because I feel it's very harsh to swallow a defeat like that, and the way we conceded three points today."
Wenger rotated heavily from the 2-2 draw at Moscow, which sent Arsenal through to the Europa League semifinals, with the likes of Mesut Ozil, Aaron Ramsey, Laurent Koscielny and Jack Wilshere all left at home.
"I think it's very difficult to combine the Europa League on Thursday night and then playing Sunday morning. You play in Moscow, you come home, you play again away from home," Wenger said.
"This game is a bit special. On top of that I must say the attitude of our team was spot on from the start on. But it didn't work and I have to be realistic enough to say that maybe our balance offensively and defensively doesn't work."
It was a familiar story for Arsenal, who also led at Watford, Bournemouth and Swansea before losing. And Wenger acknowledged that those previous disappointments may be affecting his team's confidence on the road.
"Of course it's a concern because traditionally we have a very strong record away from home. It has a subconscious weight in our minds. Once you're in a negative spiral like that, it's very difficult to get out," he said.
The loan positive for Arsenal was Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette combining well in their first start together. Aubameyang set up Lacazette for the opening goal in the 14th minute.
"It was promising what they did in the first half. In the second half, they were like the rest of the team, less creative. In the first half they created good situations," Wenger said.
Mattias is ESPN FC's Arsenal correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @MattiasKaren.