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Arsenal on the brink after dire defeat to Olympiakos in Champions League
By SP_COP on September 30, 2015 | From
Arsenal on the brink after dire defeat to Olympiakos in Champions League Arsenal are on the brink. For the last 15 seasons their participation at the Champions League knockout phase has felt set in stone. Not this time. The cracks were as plain as the dismal defending and their astonishing naivety and it would represent a surprise if Arsène Wenger and his players could now wriggle out of Group F.

After the defeat at Dynamo Zagreb and with Bayern Munich up next – at home and then away – nobody who watched this jarring reverse could advance the case for qualification with any optimism. And one thing was abundantly clear: if Arsenal play again with the same lack of backbone, they will get nothing and deserve even less.

They were undermined by a familiar cocktail – a bit of bad luck, set-piece concessions, barely conceivable individual errors and, to set the seal on it, a lunge towards the self-destruct button. They created chances, mainly in the second half and with a flurry towards the end, but their sights were awry and they could not undo the damage already done in defence.

Wenger produced a few statistics to prove this was a freakish result. His team had enjoyed 63% of possession while they had nine attempts on target to Olympiakos’s four. Scoring three times from four decent efforts, Wenger suggested, was a 100-1 shot in this competition. But Wenger’s protestations rang hollow given the nature of the goals his side conceded.

Olympiakos’s second was a personal disaster for David Ospina, the goalkeeper, who had been preferred by Wenger to Petr Cech, the marquee summer signing from Chelsea. Ospina dropped Kostas Fortounis’ corner under no pressure and was horrified when the goal-line assistant spotted that the ball had crossed the line.

But the Greek champions’ decisive third highlighted the flimsiness of Arsenal’s collective mentality. Alexis Sánchez – the player to whom Arsenal turned to bail them out – looked to have done precisely that when he headed home from Theo Walcott’s cross. Less than one minute later Ospina was picking the ball out of his net again.

It was shocking to see the room that Fortounis found inside the Arsenal area and when he shot, only the substitute Per Mertesacker’s lunging block denied him. But the danger had not passed. With Arsenal’s defensive structure in tatters, Esteban Cambiasso worked the ball wide to Felipe Pardo, in space on the right, and his low cross was touched home by the substitute, Alfred Finnbogason.

The carelessness on Arsenal’s part was breathtaking but there had been signs of it in the first-half, and the impression all along that this would not be the straight-forward home win that many people had imagined. After Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain had shot into the side netting from Sánchez’s pass on the break, Ospina curiously stayed on his line following a whipped Fortounis free-kick on 12 minutes. Happily for him, a flag went up for an offside in the middle....
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NAMES: Arsene Wenger
TAGS: Arsenal, Champions League, current of Arsenal team, defeat, football, former player, French football manager, Olympiakos