We were knocked out of the Europa on the night, no one else to blame but ourselves. Kudos to Olympiacos for their performance, they stayed with it and did what they had to do. We on the other hand, lost to our complacent and nonchalant approach.
The gaffer had rolled out his "best " 11 signifying the importance he attached to the competition. It was one of the ways we could get back into the Champions League. We had all the heavy weights, Ozil, Lacazzette, Aubameyang, Pepe and we had no real offensive impact until after the 70th minute. With the benefit of hindsight, maybe he should have rotated more...give the AMNs,Martinellis, Guendozis etc a run out, rest the tired legs. We were the tired legs as Olympiacos beat us to every first and second ball. We definitely did not do enough both mentally and physically.
They scored off a corner kick in the 51st minute, sending the tie to extra time, we scored in ET with about 3 minutes to end the match and then we conceded again in that little window of time left.
Speaks to our lack of concentration rather than being unlucky. We got another chance to draw the game even in that window and we fluffed it, still about concentration.
Olympiacos goes ahead on away goals rule. Many indelible lessons to learn from the encounter:
*Complacency is different from being confident. We were complacent not confident.
*Complacency does not win football matches, you'll get your ass whipped. Football is cruel like that.
* Arteta has to be flexible not rigid, and be ready to change things that are not working and things that are not working at optimum. E.g. Ozil as the creative hub of the Arsenal .
* Aubameyang is most effective as a central striker or playing as a 2nd striker off a No9 , not one coming from the left or right. He does his best job inside the box, do everything to keep him in there, not out of it.
* Martinelli is a better striker than Lacazzette , second on the pecking order for now, give him more playing time let Lacazzette come from the bench.
* Don't punish Ainsley Maitland Niles because you want to resurrect Bellerin's career. Don't punish Martinelli because you want Lacazzette to click . Let there be healthy competition between the players. They are all young enough to have and enjoy a healthy rivalry.
* Guendozi is Arsenal's best all round midfielder, not Xhaka, not Ceballos or Torreira. Play him. If he had started this game, the results would have been different. The boy's got a warrior's heart, the others don't have it.
* Arteta must seek to use and get the best out of the squad, not just his first 11 , their strengths and weaknesses that's what management entails. The major strength of the squad is "versatility" and that is not being leveraged at all. We have many players who are being played out of position and have not been given time to show what they can do in their preferred positions. Maitland Niles is a midfielder, Saka is a midfielder/left side attack, Xhaka can make a good CB, Mustafi has the energy to play as a DM ,etc
Going forward, Arteta must be more cautious and bold, sounds contradictory..? Yeah, cautious in planning, evaluation in all the behind - the- scene activities but bold in execution of the agreed plan.
Shit happened, let's learn from this and prevent it from reoccurring. We were building momentum and gaining confidence, an emphatic win over Olympiacos would have boosted all that but it wasn't to be because we didn't make it happen. In football, you create your own luck. We had the opportunity to go far in the Europa but we were not prepared to take it. The better team won.
Chin up guys, focus on the battles ahead, take out your anger on West Ham and then Burnley...
Let's get back on track. We can do this.