Arsenal clocked up their seventh defeat of the calendar year, as two Brighton & Hove Albion goals in the first half dictated the outcome of a 2-1 loss at the AMEX Stadium.
The Seagulls landed their blows early through Lewis Dunk and Glenn Murray, with Arsenal two goals down by the 26th minute.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang did manage to bring his mini goal-drought to an end on the brink of half-time, but the Gabon international’s finish wasn’t to be enough to spur the North Londoners on to a result.
In Arsenal’s bid to bring their dismal away form to an end, Arsène Wenger called on the returns of Jack Wilshere and Alex Iwobi into the first XI, with Calum Chambers also filling in at right-back for Héctor Bellerín.
Brighton began on top and, soon enough, placed the Gunners under immediate pressure with the opener in the 7th minute, as Dunk finished off Shane Duffy’s header from a set-piece.
Anthony Knockaert neared an early double, fresh onto Pascal Groß’s back-heel to shoot into Čech, with the joy in front of goal eventually reserved for Murray with a header in the 26th minute, peeling off Shkodran Mustafi inside the box.
Aubameyang pulled a goal back for Arsenal when turning in Granit Xhaka’s pass from close range in the 43rd minute, shortly before Laurent Koscielny left the Gunners on the cusp of an equaliser with a deflected header onto the post.
Mesut Özil looked to lead the hunt for Arsenal’s second following the interval, bringing Mathew Ryan into action in the 56th minute with a swerving shot from range.
Following a lengthy stoppage, due to Ezequiel Schelotto’s head injury, Brighton’s José Izquierdo came close to livening the game back up from the left when striking just wide of Čech’s goal.
It was from the Colombian’s flank that Brighton thought they had killed the game off, as his run into the box allowed an easy set-up for Murray to tap home before the linesman’s flag for offside in the 81st minute.
Arsenal replied through Aubameyang in the 93rd minute, but he ex-Borussia Dortmund man could do little else but direct his half-volley inside the area into Ryan’s grasp.
With no reward at the end of the tunnel for the North Londoners, a 2-1 defeat drags Arsenal 13 points away from the top four in the Premier League.
By Patrick Ribeiro
Player Ratings: Petr Čech (4) – Calum Chambers (3), Shkodran Mustafi (3), Laurent Koscielny (3), Sead Kolasinac (3) – Granit Xhaka (4), Jack Wilshere (5) – Henrikh Mkhitaryan (5), Mesut Özil (5), Alex Iwobi (4) – Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (4)
Subs: Danny Welbeck (-), Héctor Bellerín (-), Eddie Nketiah (-)