When the losses keep piling up, all that’s left to do is find others to blame. Arsene Wenger has two modes: Ignoring the problems by saying everything is OK, or actually taking out his frustration on someone else. After another match without a win (fourth in a row in all competitions), it was the referee, according to the manager, that ruined Arsenal’s chances of winning three points.
For once, he may have it right. Arsenal led in Greece against Olympiakos thanks to a Tomas Rosicky goal, as a lineup of (mostly) players who don’t get too start quite often was there for the experience and the minutes. A chance to grab the first place in the group stage was there for the taking, but Schalke won their match in France so it didn’t really matter eventually.
After 20 minutes into the second half, Arsenal got screwed. Olympiakos were wrongly awarded a corner after the referee decided Wojciech Szczesny had turned an effort round the upright, when it actually clipped a post. From the corner, Giannis Maniatis brought Olympiakos level. Later on, the fantastic Kostas Mitroglou scored the winning goal for the hosts, advancing onward to the Europa League.
When there’s not much to make out of a match that didn’t see the greatest effort from his players, blaming the ref for the loss is the next best thing, and pretty much the only thing Wenger could do.
For their first goal, it was a goal-kick, simple as that. What is the fifth referee doing behind the line? Nobody knows. I don’t think it was the right decision, but we have to cope with it. After that they scored a good goal.
The big problem for Arsenal right now is their terrible form. They did score a goal, finally, but it’s becoming clearer and clearer that the current squad of players isn’t good enough for more than a weak push towards another top 4 finish and it’s hard to see them coming out of the last 16 in the Champions League, no matter the draw (and it won’t be a favorable one by the looks of things), victorious. Unless they open up the piggy bank in January.
Many of the players are not used to that level. We had two or three chances to score a second but after that we know we can be in trouble. We needed the second goal tonight. What is important is that we do well until January. We have big games coming up and we should focus on the players we have to win the games. I cannot answer at the moment if we will bring in new players or not.
These were only subs (most of them), and Arsenal do have some depth to their squad, but not enough quality overall to make them challenge for the Premier League title or anything more than a Champions League quarterfinal spot. Looking at the field, making it to the final 8 will be a surprise.