Arsenal's Armenian midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan.
Arsenal's Armenian midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan.

Arsenal’s fatal flaw adds loss to Wenger ‘hall of shame’

JUST when Arsenal fans thought they'd seen it all, they had to watch the first half of the Europa League Round of 32 second leg debacle at home to Ostersunds FK.

The Gunners were a shambles: uninterested, and outplayed by the Swedish minnows, who sparked boos from the home faithful by winning 2-1 at the Emirates in a game the hosts were accused of being too arrogant to take seriously.

A 3-0 win away from home was enough to secure progress, but clearly an eye - or both - were on Sunday night's Carabao Cup final against Manchester City.

Arsenal finally score.
Arsenal finally score.

Half-time was a saviour for the Gunners to recalibrate, given the players look shell shocked, fans were incensed, and ugly body language ensued on the park against a side coached by Englishman Graham Potters, who has steered them to a first European campaign after a rise from the fourth tier since 2010.

With tiny Ostersunds enjoying the lackadaisical approach of the hosts - wearing blue, not the traditional garb - a serious calamity was ensuing until Saed Kolasinac's relieving goal at the start of the second period.

True, Wenger rung the changes, but even he admitted complacency seeped in as the back four wobbled, the midfield disappeared and the attacking unit was largely toothless.

Indeed, Ainsley Maitland-Niles was hooked at half-time for Granit Xhaka, Calum Chambers was culpable, probably for both goals, while Danny Welbeck was rusty.

"We were not at the races in the first half," Wenger said.

Arsenal's German-born Bosnian defender Sead Kolasinac
Arsenal's German-born Bosnian defender Sead Kolasinac

"In the first half we were in trouble and in danger because we were complacent, not focused and were open every time we lost the ball. We had no ideas with the ball and that's why we were in trouble.

"We responded very well because we did the job to qualify, but that's what we have to take from the night and that's all."

He added: "We prepared properly and in a serious way.

"But you have external circumstances such as the fact we won 3-0, the fact that we have another big game on Sunday, the fact that people subconsciously think you just have to turn up to win the game. Football doesn't work like that.

Arsenal's French manager Arsene Wenger
Arsenal's French manager Arsene Wenger

"It's better not to talk too much tonight, and focus on our next game."

Martin Keown, one of Arsene Wenger's former charges, erupted: "Kolasinac doesn't seem the same player as the one who joined. He was an animal but he doesn't seem hungry now.

"The goal was coming, not one part of the Arsenal team is functioning, the team is imploding.

"I am embarrassed watching as a former player never mind how Arsene Wenger must feel. It's a big week for Arsenal, they're not going to win the Europa League with a performance like this."


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