A Nightmare Result And Performance.

Arsenal FC v Olympiacos FC - UEFA Europa League Round of 32: Second Leg

Good morning to anyone with the stomach to be reading blogs today.

That was a deflating game and result on every level. No one, player or coach came out of that well, with the exception of the much maligned Shkodran Mustafi. Ironic eh? That’s not to say all the players were bad, some were ok without being good, but some were well below what we expect of them. The fact that the team and players did not play well, opens the door for hindsight experts to be critical of Arteta’s team selection, However, when I saw the team I thought that it was the strongest line up he could have put out and I was happy that he was fielding a team to make sure we progressed in what was a massively important competition for the club.

We started off slow, I suspect looking to control the ball and dominate possession in an attempt play a low risk game. Clearly that was not the result. The play was ponderous and risk averse, in short, boring, right up until the moment that they scored. They scored from a corner that was defended so badly, it beggars belief. After that we picked up the pace and dominated play. That’s not to say we played well, just a bit quicker.

Pepe, who has been in and out of the team under Arteta has shown some improvement in recent weeks, but last night he had a shocker. His decision making was as bad as I’ve seen it, he dawdled on the ball, often receiving it and just stopping still, giving the opposition an eternity to get into position and also crowd him out. I lost count of the number of times Ozil overlapped him and got into good space in their left-back position, just for Pepe to ignore the easy pass to him, dally on the ball or set off on a dribble into traffic. He has the quickest feet and the slowest brain, He dazzles with some dribbles, but the end result is so poor he may as well dribble down the tunnel with the ball. He is clearly very skilled on the ball, but I fear no amount of coaching will quicken his brain waves. Ozil himself was ineffective. I wondered why he spent so much time deep and wide on the right, rather in the central 10 position, I suspect it was so he could make the fore mentioned runs, but whatever it was, it didn’t work.

In the fullback positions while Saka had his moments, Hector did not, it was telling that he was the first to be hooked. It seems to me that Mikel is from the Arsene school of substitutions, in that he likes the players that start to make the adjustments required, rather than him tinker, of course the hindsight experts are given a open goal if this doesn’t work, and last night it didn’t work at all.

The end of the game literally couldn’t have been worse. Aubameyang had produced a late moment of magic  that should have seen us progress but a series of calamities saw us find a way to shoot our collective feet off. A reluctance to clear the ball, culminated in Leno gifting a corner in the 120th minute, a corner we conceded from , with Luiz appearing to just leave the ball . What a F. up. Then, to top it all, in the 2 minutes of added time, Aubameyang missed the sitter of all sitters.

It was a night to forget, all the recent positive vibes were drained away, and we are left , once again, in an emotional slump. Any European football next year looks a long shot, let alone Champions League. Arteta has a big job to lift these players over the coming weeks. We can help by putting this setback behind us as quickly as possible. It’s a bitter pill to swallow, but swallow it we must.



46 comments on “A Nightmare Result And Performance.

  1. A very fair write up and well done for even attempting it. To concede that final goal was absolutely sickening but the calamitous build up and execution is almost beyond explanation. I simply could not understand why they were not clearing the ball away from the area instead of putting the goalie under unnecessary and avoidable pressure. We’ve all seen great improvements from the likes of Luiz and others in recent weeks but whilst he may or may not have been in part responsible for both goals conceded, neither did he cover himself in glory, preferring to almost look the other way rather than get stuck in on both goals.

    Martin Keown must have been spinning in his commentary position.

    I know Auba missed the proverbial sitter but even he must have thought he’d done enough over the two legs to secure our progression. His extended meditation from a sedentary position, after missing our last chance, had ‘farewell Arsenal’ written all over it. I hope I’m wrong.

    I don’t think the ref helped us on a couple of occasions by failing to second-yellow one of theirs and ignoring a valid penalty claim, but the truth is, on the night, we failed to help ourselves. I can only assume they are being worked hard in training and leaving everything out on the pitch after recent triumphs in the PL. We looked, as you say, ponderous, slow and even leggy.

    On the upside, this early EL exit does clear the way for a sustained drive for the top of the PL which I think is eminently possible; maybe last night’s shock and disappointment will provide the fuel for this outcome.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. To tack on, I don’t want to sound flippant but I’m genuinely not bothered about the Europa League – not this season. From what little I can tell, the biggest hindrance since Arteta took over has been conditioning. We play our way and look fine for 60 minutes but normally drop towards the end.

    Of course, last night may be a blow to confidence, but we’ve got a real chance of finishing high this season, and anything that reduces our workload is OK by me.

    It hardly needs saying, but the team is being re-tuned at the moment. Knockout football will often punish teams at the start of a cycle.

    Also fgs, the Sunday-Thursday schedule is a load of shit.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Bad night at the office, dust our selves down and focus on a great league finish and see where we get.
    Felt bad last night and this morning but the overall negativity in Arsenal blog world is well over the top. And its somehow all Ozils fault as usual ( like it is not a team game, and like he was the only one not to his usual standard or missing sitters).
    That said felt Arteta might have made better use of his subs and i didnt understand the 3 5 2 formation we finished with near the end. Surely AMN should have been on at right back at some point as i felt we were really vunerable with pepe as wingback, but chasing you have to take risks.

    Anyways Arteta should learn from this, no euro distraction, more time on the training pitch with players, 1 real comp to focus on.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Good, fair write up. New territory for Arteta and will be interesting to see how he reacts to it. Dilemma is that whether he wants to shake up players who underperformed, or simply rest them as they look tired, most of alternatives -Nelson, Willock, Nketiah, Maitland-Niles, Guendo- are young and, in Ainsley’s case, seemingly out of favour.

    So is there that much scope to change it, given Portsmouth will be a different kind of test, quite likely a difficult one, and is now much more important to us?

    Think very likely Nketiah starts and if Ainsley doesn’t then it’s prob not looking great for him going forward.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. And Utd get LASK. Unnecessary fates, unnecessary. They’re on track to match St Ettiene, Rostov, Anderlecht, Celta Vigo, Ajax from their winning year.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. That just about sums it up. Pepe reminds me of Limper goes past players but has absolutely no end product, hopefully it’s first season syndrome and he can become more of a team player. It would be nice if he didn’t come inside every single time.
    I get what you say about the Arsene school of letting the players put things right but sometimes that can be a fault and sensing when the players are not responding is a must.
    Arteta has been guilty of this a few times already in his short tenure.
    To finish on a positive note just how fantastic was Mustafi last night absolutely brilliant.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Yes, it was hard to take at the end, but I don’t get people losing their rags over this. We weren’t quite at it mentally, which can be costly in a knockout competition.

    Arteta faces a different kind of motivational challenge now. Whereas to this point he’s had to repair the damage of the previous coach’s tenure, now he has to pick them up from a setback that’s his own regime’s. That’s not to say he was entirely or even mostly at fault for last night; it’s just that, two months in, the players have bought into the system and attitude and, despite that, they suffered an important loss.

    The response across the board will be telling.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Mikel Arteta did not attempt to hide his dismay after we were knocked out of the Europa League after losing to Olympiacos on away goals on Thursday night.

    Our head coach faced the media after the game and discussed the performance, Bernd Leno, Shkodran Mustafi and more.

    Read on for a full transcript:

    on how disappointing the result is…
    It hurts, big time. We had a lot of hope in this competition. It was a great way for us to be able to go to Europe and it is a very beautiful competition to try to win. I think we did a lot of positive things in the game. I think we created enough chances to win the game, but if you concede two set-pieces again in a tie like this, then you put yourself in big trouble.

    on whether Leno could have done better at the end…
    Yes, obviously he could have kicked it out, but then there is another situation to defend. It’s not only the first phase but it’s the second phase of that corner that we concede and the player steps in and just taps in the ball in the six-yard box, which is unacceptable. It is something that we have to improve on. We’ve done the most difficult thing to react after that, to play against a team with 10 men behind the ball in 25 metres. And even at the end, we had an incredible opportunity to win it. Had we gone through energy wise, it would have given us a big lift again and [brought] everybody together. It is a big disappointment and I am right behind the boys, the way they played, the way they tried. The effort that they put into game was enormous and we have to move forward together.

    on the team growing into the match…
    I think in the first 10-15 minutes it was a little bit like this. I think as the game went on, we were getting better and better and they were playing deeper and deeper. We generated more than enough chances to win the game and we shouldn’t be talking about what happened now.

    on taking our chances…
    I think we have enough goal threat in this team, but we have to put the chances to bed and in Europe it’s in both boxes. In the opponent’s box, we missed chances that should have been goals and in our box there were a few things that they had and they put them in. On the set-pieces we were vulnerable again so these are things to improve.

    on the team’s emotions…
    I’ve seen all the boys and I know how much they wanted this competition. I’ve seen today the way they fight and the way we try to play and it’s a difficult one to digest as a team and as a club. This is football and sometimes it is very cruel when the emotions are right here [raises hand high], then in another moment they’re somewhere else [lowers hand]. You have to able to handle that if you want to be in this industry so now it’s up to us and up to me to bring this place back in and move forward.

    on Mustafi’s injury…
    I don’t know [how bad it is]. He said to me ‘I cannot play anymore’. I’m not sure if it was a cramp or a muscle injury. I am sure there will be a few of those [types of injuries] because players were exhausted, they played four times in 11 days and it was physically a very demanding game.

    on whether he expected his team selection to be enough to get the job done…
    Yes, but it wasn’t the case, and again, details are so important in ties. We gave details away that you cannot afford. Even if not in the opposition box, you have to be ruthless, and we weren’t tonight.

    on whether tiredness was a factor…
    Yeah, it was, but this competition through January and December is really tough. The players are trying their best and they kept going until the last second of the game, even when they conceded the last goal. We had the best chance of the game to win it, but that’s football.

    on how the rest of the season looks to him now…
    I just want to concentrate now on lifting those players and getting back the belief, and convince them that there is still a lot to play for, and move on. It’s part of this sport that a big disappointment can happen and it happened tonight. We have to learn and react as a team and as a club.

    on the experience as a manager…
    I’m the first one, I have to lift them, it’s my job. That’s the first thing I have to do. First of all we have to digest it because it’s very, very painful tonight.

    on if he’s scared that this result will undo his squad’s belief and confidence…
    I hope not because I will try and show them what happened in the game and where the game should have finished, and the things that we didn’t do to finish the game the way that it should have finished. Hopefully it’s part of the process to learn from that and improve as a team.

    on the difficulty of reaching the top four/five…
    Very hard because looking at the table we’re still far from the objectives that we all have, but we’ve been far all season from it and we have to keep fighting. The most important thing now is that the dressing room has to be strong and we have to keep going and react. First of all, I have to convince them about what happened in the game and why they are not through in the tie. If they continue to do that, there will be rewards like we have done in the last 10 games that we played.

    Copyright 2020 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to http://www.arsenal.com as the source.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Arsenal have recorded their first overall loss since 2002 after publishing their accounts for the financial year ended May 31, 2019.

    Commenting on the accounts the club’s chairman, Sir Chips Keswick, said: “Our player trading profit for this financial year was limited and this combined with a second consecutive season of Europa League football has meant the club recorded its first overall loss since 2002.

    “For 2019-20 we will see increased commercial revenues from Adidas and our renewed deal with Emirates but another season outside the Champions League will continue to apply pressure to our financial results.”

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Maitland-Niles and Mari both starting for the U23s. Holding and Nelson on the bench.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Arsenal Academy
    Here’s how #AFCU23 lineup this evening in the #PL2

    XI: Macey, Swanson, Clarke, Mari, Medley, Smith, Azeez, Cottrell, Maitland-Niles, Balogun, Coyle

    Holding, Hein, Nelson, McEneff, Omole

    half an hour gone and AFC lead 1-0 from a Balogun goal a couple of minutes into the game

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Arsenal Academy
    Goal for visitors- Harwood-Bellis is the scorer

    (34) | #PL2

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Arsenal Academy
    HALF-TIME: #AFCU23 1-1 @ManCityAcademy

    ’s early effort is cancelled out by Adrian Bernabe’s 20-yard strike

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Arsenal Academy
    Goal for #AFCU23. @FBalogun67
    races through on goal and slots coolly past Bazunu

    (63) | #PL2


  15. Arsenal Academy
    Goal for the visitors. Harwood-Bellis taps home

    Red circle
    Blue circle
    (80) | #PL2

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Arsenal Academy
    #MCFCU23 take the lead. Braaf slots home

    (85) | #PL2

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Arsenal Academy
    FULL-TIME: #AFCU23 2-4 @ManCityAcademy

    The visitors leave Emirates Stadium with all three points

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Arsènic™
    Arsène at a charity event: “I’ve given my life, my brain and my heart to the football club. [Arsenal] don’t need my brain anymore, they don’t need my body anymore…My heart is still there so, I just keep suffering. Every time we don’t do well, I suffer.”

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Jeorge Bird
    Arsenal U18 v Brighton: Graczyk; Oyegoke, Monlouis, Kirk, Ogungbo; Patino, Bandeira; Alebiosu, Cirjan, Flores; Plange.

    Subs: Mitchell, Laing, Jeffcott, Matthews, Taylor-Hart.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Brighton U18’s 2-3 Arsenal U18’s

    Liked by 1 person

  21. afcstuff
    Mikel Arteta on Kieran Tierney: “He is much closer. He is evolving really well. He feels fit. He feels confident now. He’s doing the stuff with contact, so hopefully we can have him soon. [Available for Monday?] As soon as I don’t know when! Whenever we decide.” #afc

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Mikel Arteta admitted his players are still hurting following our Europa League exit – but has praised their reaction to the Olympiacos defeat.

    Our head coach was facing the media ahead of our Emirates FA Cup fifth-round clash against Portsmouth, and discussed Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Bukayo Saka and more.

    Read on for a full transcript:

    on the reaction of the players…
    Well we trained today. We are all very down, frustrated, disappointed, but my message to them was that I am right behind them. I thanked them for the effort they put into the game, for the attitude and the personality they played with and the way they reacted after we conceded the goal. We tried, tried and tried again and completely deserved to win the game but there were aspects of the game that we have to dominate better if we want to keep competing at that level.

    on how he will lift the players’ spirits…
    It is part of the profession. We can fall and have disappointments, it is about how we react individually and collectively. Then my job is to try to convince them that in the process in which we are at the moment, there are a lot of positive things and as well things we have to improve if we want to much better as a team. So, that is the way.

    on how Aubameyang has reacted to the defeat…
    He was gutted. Obviously he scored a wonder goal that was putting us through in the competition, and with the last kick of the game, he had the best chance of the game. He felt very responsible about it, we will try to be right behind him. He has been phenomenal all season for us and now the players have to support him, I think his reaction after the game – to face the media and the way he talked, it was a very mature reaction from him.

    on the reasons for our slow starts to games…
    The first 15 minutes I wasn’t happy with the ball speed, everything was a little too safe, too slow. Obviously the ball is different as well [and] they were playing really deep as well, didn’t want to make a mistake as you have a goal in hand, but as the game progressed we were getting better and better and better and completely dominated the game. We played in the opposition’s half for 65 minutes or 70 minutes I think, but we found a way to score the goal and then the game management is another aspect we have to improve a lot. We have a lot of young players, but we have to learn quickly.

    on Bukayo Saka and if he thinks he might get an England call-up…
    I don’t know. He deserves a lot of credit for the way he is playing, because he is playing with a lot of courage as well. You could see the other night that in difficult moments he wanted to make an impact and he wanted to make risky decisions to try to generate goals. And that’s been him. He’s been very consistent with his performance, which at that age normally is not a common thing, but yes, I’m really pleased with him.

    on whether he will get an England call-up…
    I don’t know. That’s not up to me to decide.

    on Kieran Tierney…
    He is much closer. He is evolving really well. He feels fit. He feels confident now. He’s doing the stuff with contact, so hopefully we can have him soon.

    on whether Kieran will be available for Monday’s game…
    As soon as I don’t know when! Whenever we decide.

    on Pablo Mari and whether he’s in contention to play against Portsmouth…
    Yes, I think he need minutes, like Rob did, like Ainsley and like Reiss as well. I think it was a good game for them to get their fitness levels tested as well and they trained today really well. They are all, I think, ready to play.

    on the Emirates FA Cup and what it means to this club…
    It’s really special. It’s probably once of the nicest games and days of the season when you play the final day in England, at Wembley, nice weather and an incredible atmosphere. And you know, it’s a trophy that’s been very much linked with our history. So we want to continue to be attached to that, knowing that on Monday night in Portsmouth, it will be tough.

    on whether he’s wished the women’s team luck…
    I haven’t had the chance to speak to [Joe Montemurro] but just keep doing what they’re doing. They’ve been tremendous, we are so privileged to have such a good team in our club and all our support and luck to them.

    Copyright 2020 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to http://www.arsenal.com as the source.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Dan Critchlow@afcDW·
    Khayon Edwards scores twice as the Arsenal u16s beat Brighton 3-0 today. Charles Sagoe Jr got the other goal #AFC

    Edwards is up to 25 goals for the season now at u16 level. He’s made a few appearances for the u18s recently too.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. with Chelsea picking up a point today in a 2-2 draw at Bournemouth, it means Arsenal with a game in hand, are 8pts from 4th spot. its a long shot but we are certainly not out of the running for a top 4 spot

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Smith Rowe off injured today. Have to hope not serious as has been going very well for him. Lasted longer than our other two who went to football league clubs in Jan. Olayinka played 1 game and has been out since after an ankle hack late on. John-Jules featured a lot for 5/6 games but out since then with toe injury. think Ballard lasted about 3 games in Aug before knee injury which has kept him out until now.

    You wonder if it’s the same sport in which almost every one of Pool’s main players been fit for about 2 years now.

    Liked by 2 people

  26. LiVARpool needing ref intervention today if this continues

    Liked by 2 people

  27. Going to be hard for a ref to save Liverpool now

    Liked by 2 people

  28. oh how bitter the BBC 606 lot are about Liverpool not managing to be invincible

    Liked by 1 person

  29. ah fuck it, cfc women have scored in the 90th minute to take the lead again the in continential cup v Arsenal women, Leah Williamson had got us level a few minutes ago

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Nice that the invincible run stays in place… all should not just go bad in one season…

    And we can still even finish fourth.. so come on lads

    Well done to watford!

    Liked by 1 person

  31. ah now the Arsenal official twitter account trolling Liverpool

    Replying to
    Congratulations on a formidable unbeaten run, @LFC

    Clapping hands sign

    Liked by 1 person

  32. Arsenal women lose the final, really didn’t deserve to lose

    Liked by 1 person

  33. There is a God in the shape of Troy Deeney! Who would have thought.


  34. This season just brings it home. All the favours, good fortune, dodgy pens, suspicious VAR, strange fitness levels, media love, and it must be said, decent recruitment and management bestowed on Liverpool, but they won’t match our unique Invincibles.
    Scudamore, a bullying, cheating, ref selecting manager, the mass ranks of the biased media, the wealth of nations and Sheikhs, Mike Riley, the PGMOL and their minions, and God knows who/what else have tried their best, but no other team have gone a season unbeaten in our top league in the modern era, just Wenger and his bunch of heroes.
    Perhaps living on past glories in a difficult week, but a glass will be raised to The Invincibles this evening, and long may they remain just that, at least until our club rise again

    Liked by 4 people

  35. Think it was about 88th or 89th minute allowed myself to believe it was really gonna happen.

    So pleased. Only when the threat was lifted did I get precise measure of how much I didn’t want Liverpool to do it.

    Well done, Watford. Great stuff.

    Liked by 1 person

  36. Another bit of good news is seen suggestion on twitter Smith-Rowe is ok and though said injury on match report could be just being knackered.

    Keeps up doing as he is and it will make world of difference to where he stands coming into next year with us. Really shining there apparently and certainly clips seem to back that up.

    Liked by 1 person

  37. We have Mike Dean, again, vs Pompey.
    And David Coote as 4th official.
    All very reassuring

    Liked by 2 people

  38. Crazy week in Arsenal land.

    A significant victory in the league over Usmanov’s Everton and Ancelotti upended with the nightmare result against the Greek equivalent of Utd or München in the tournament that offered the club the best prospect of CL or even just European football next season.
    Never mind the predictable pgMOB there could be stronger teams in the last four of the FA Cup then in the Europa.

    And then Liverpool lose at Watford and the strongest effort we’ve seen to match the Invincibles fades away to ease the pain from Thursday.

    Liked by 1 person

  39. < not forgetting the match and result for the ladies team.

    Luiz could’ve done with some rotation on Thursday IMO so I’m hoping the new CB now he’s ready will prove to be an Edu and not another Raul signing.

    Must be tempting to rotate the keepers too, for multiple reasons, which way would you or I gamble? Who’d be a coach!

    Liked by 1 person

  40. Everton 1-1 Man Utd
    Spurs 2-3 wolves

    results this weekend have been good to Arsenal’s top 4 hopes,

    Liked by 1 person

  41. Chelsea; Man U drew… Leicester ; Spurs lost…
    So we are in good shape as far as am concerned…without kicking a ball this weekend

    We can get into 4th and even 5th may be enough if the Man City ban stays in place.
    Is 3rd even impossible? I prefer to aim for 2nd or 3rd and then see where we land

    Of course the easiest solution is to win our remaining 11 matches since they include some of the teams above us…

    Liked by 2 people

  42. Report: Ex-Tottenham teenager to begin training with Arsenal after 15-goal season

    Olly Dawes
    36 minutes ago

    Arsenal are giving Tyger Smalls a chance to shine.

    According to The Telegraph, Arsenal are giving non-league attacker Tyger Smalls the chance to impress Per Mertesacker as they consider a deal.

    It’s claimed that Arsenal are taking a look at Smalls, and he will train with Mertesacker’s academy side, as the teenager is handed a chance to win a contract.

    Smalls enjoyed a superb first half of the season with non-league Haverhill Rovers, who currently play in the ninth tier of English football, as he hit 15 goals in 24 games.

    Yet in December, Smalls announced on Twitter that he would be leaving Haverhill, seemingly freeing himself up for a move higher up the footballing pyramid.

    Now, Arsenal are taking a look at the 17-year-old, whose big frame and skill allowed him to thrive in non-league football at such a young age.

    Smalls was previously in the youth setup at Arsenal’s bitter rivals Tottenham, as they signed him from Norwich City at a very young age, but let him leave before getting close to a professional deal.

    Spurs have seen the likes of Reo Griffiths and Noni Madueke leave their youth setup in recent times, and Smalls now has a chance to prove them wrong for letting him go.

    Joining rivals Arsenal would be some way to do that, and the Gunners would no doubt love to unearth a real gem that their neighbours decided to part with.

    Liked by 1 person

  43. with man city winning the league cup today it most likely means another spot for the EL in the EPL

    Liked by 1 person

  44. Like

  45. Watched Saliba tonight. Strange one late on in game where his teammate very deliberately handballed a shot on target, and got a yellow card. In Utd game midweek same offence was red-carded and gifted Utd an easy night .

    The Utd one was a good shot arrowing towards bottom corner, but keeper looked to have good chance to save it had teammate not intervened. In tonight’s game shot was not as good and keeper looked pretty much certain to save it. Would that be difference?

    Anyway, seems a good example of how things that in VAR world- deliberate handball, effort on target, goalkeeper likely to save- you’d hope they could achieve near total consistency on, but it seems not. Subjectivity, wriggle room, call it what you like- it’s why you could get a near exact replica of scenario Luiz was sent off for and I’d expect yellow most times. Unless us, in which case red most times.

    Liked by 1 person

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