Arsenal saw their Champions League hopes take a massive turn for the worse when Greek side Olympiakos beat them 3-2 at the Emirates. Arsene Wenger has come under much scrutiny for the changes he made to the team for that game, especially the decision to change Peter Cech for Colombian number one David Ospina. Firstly the naivety of the managers from the Premier League clubs in Europe should be the massive concern of media outlets and fans not the decision not to play Peter Cech. From the line-up Arsenal started in this game surely they should have been favourites in this game, with Monreal being replaced by Kieran Gibbs being the only real outfield change from the regular starting line-up we have seen this season thus far.
David Ospina was at fault for the second Olympiakos goal yes, he stood no chance for the first and the winning goal, the pressure put on Wenger for this change has no doubt not been merited. When Peter Cech made two mistakes in the opening game of the season against West Ham, was he labelled as a bad keeper? Keepers make mistakes it is just the fact that their mistakes can prove more so costly. Cech realistically has had one stand out game in the Arsenal colours, beyond that it are the same old problems that Wenger and the Arsenal team really need to look at and start putting right. Realistically speaking when Peter Cech signed for the club in the summer, the question should have been can he get the number one spot as David Ospina really done nothing to suggest that Arsenal needed a new number one, he was very consistent during the second half of last season in which Arsenal picked up the most points of any Premier League club.
The same issues are occurring at the club that has been there over the last 4-5 seasons, and especially when it comes to Europe. The result the other night against the Greek Champions was not a massive shock; previous to that, the result against Croatian champions Dinamo Zagreb was not a major shock, there are a number of reasons why Arsenal cannot deal with these types of occasions.
Firstly, the lack of leadership in the team has been a massive concern for Arsene Wenger and the Arsenal fans. Mikel Arteta and Per Mertesacker are captain and vice-captain respectively, these two players are really past their prime and Mertesacker especially is a liability against teams with pace. Both players are now not considered to be in Arsenal’s first choice team. This leaves Santi Cazorla who is a great player but is he a leader? The answer would be no, they need players who can organise, discipline their forward movements and keep within their positions on the pitch, this is so costly for Arsenal and unless they address this issue, the position they find themselves in the long-term will simply stay the same.
Secondly, the lack of discipline the players have in the team. This isn’t just in regard to collecting yellow cards and red cards, but more so the positional discipline and their tactical discipline. When watching Arsenal now it seems they have one way of playing and do not take responsibility for the other elements of the game. Both fullback’s push on along with Cazorla and at times the holding midfielder and there is simply no protection for the defence and goalkeeper. This shows naivety that Wenger and Arsenal believe that they can outscore and outplay teams which yes they are more than capable of doing, but this will not work all the time.
Lastly, it would be that Arsenal and Wenger simply has all the same types of players to choose from. Apart from Olivier Giroud who is unfortunate to get the critics he does considering the goals he scores, a lot of the Arsenal attackers seem to be luxury players. A lot of these players want to play in the number ‘10’ position, which will be increased with Jack Wilshire’s return to the first team. Aaron Ramsey seems frustrated and lost coming in from the right, Sanchez looks like he could do more damage if he was inside rather than the out the left and Mesut Ozil looks like he is still wandering what he is doing at the Emirates after his successful spell at Real Madrid. Wenger simply cannot accommodate all these types of players especially against bigger clubs and in Europe as teams are simply working harder than these players and the results show that.
Looking at the headlines that have come about after the Olympiakos game it looks like Ospina has taken the brunt of the blame for this result, but maybe look at Arsenal so far this season as a whole and David Ospina is the least of their worries. Undoubtedly a top keeper and has found himself badly treated.