Arsene Wenger’s decision to rest Petr Cech for Arsenal’s Champions League defeat to Olympiacos has been widely criticised by the press.
Daily Telegraph – ‘Wenger pays price for Ospina gamble’
‘The reputation of David Ospina certainly suffered a considerable dent last night but the more lasting damage was surely inflicted on Arsène Wenger and Arsenal’, writes Jeremy Wilson.
‘The decision to rest first-choice goalkeeper Petr Cech backfired spectacularly when a horrible Ospina mistake gifted Olympiakos their crucial second goal.
‘Alexis Sánchez aside, Arsenal also paid for an often ponderous attacking performance as well as defensive mistakes that suggested little had been learnt from similar nightmares here last season against Anderlecht and Monaco.
‘A growing wider concern is Arsenal’s poor home form. They have now lost six out of their last 12 at the Emirates.
‘With opponents clearly employing similar counter-attacking tactics, Arsenal are displaying a worrying absence of variety in their attacks and there is little evidence of any ‘Plan B’.
The Guardian – ‘Ospina’s error leaves Gunners facing tallest of orders’
‘Resting players in Zagreb in the first match in this group had left Arsenal horribly open in midfield’, writes Barney Ronay. ‘Resting Petr Cech here made absolutely no sense at all.
‘Beyond that this was a strong Arsenal team, one that should have been good enough to win. It is question that seems to recur with baffling frequency, not least at home in this competition where they have now lost six of their past 13 matches. Why did Arsenal look so anxious, so tentative, so lacking in drive? One answer is simply that they lack drive, are tentative and easily become anxious.
‘There simply seemed to be a lack of leadership on the field, embodied by the sublime, wonderfully talented Mesut Özil, a genuinely A-grade player who seems increasingly concerned with overcrafting every pass when what this team really needed was some drive and purpose and muscle from its classiest player. And beyond that some appalling defensive organisation, with vast tracts of space in front of the defence that helped game but limited opponents score three times.’
The Independent – ‘Ospina’s blunder leaves Arsenal facing an early exit’
‘The clocks have not yet gone back this autumn and already there is a mood of Wenger-rage rumbling around the Emirates Stadium, the age-old recriminations of a home support that feels it has seen this story too many times before, and knows exactly how it will end.
‘There have been bad defeats in the Champions League in the past, but it is hard to think of one this damaging and this early in the competition for Arsene Wenger as defeat to Olympiakos that follows the opening day loss to Dinamo Zagreb. Arsenal have long since slipped behind the elite in European football but by their standards they are struggling at an embarrassingly early stage of the competition.
‘It is remarkable that it has come to this for Wenger in the penultimate year of his contract, but he has to take much of the blame for another risky selection of David Ospina in place of Petr Cech, a decision which cost his side the second Olympiakos goal.
‘This is supposed to be a sophisticated Arsenal team but for long periods of the game they found themselves well-managed by Olympiakos who took advantage in set-pieces and then on the counter-attack. The great Argentinian midfielder Esteban Cambiasso was a major influence on the game and Arsenal, desperately shifting their formation to chase the game looked disjointed by comparison.’
The Guardian – ‘Wenger has little in reserve’
‘Whether the goal should have been awarded or not, Arsenal’s second-string goalkeeper made a mistake. So too, though, did Arsene Wenger,’ writes Rory Smith.
‘David Ospina does not come with the aura that Petr Cech possesses. Wenger may feel he can “close his eyes” and select any combination of players without reducing the quality of his side, but one position should be exempt from that.
‘Playing a reserve goalkeeper in a crucial fixture was a needless risk.’
Daily Mail – ‘Boss was crazy to leave out Cech for this must-win clash’
‘Arsene Wenger will have to renege on his ludicrous promise to David Ospina that he will play in cup competitions’, writes Neil Ashton.
‘Wenger’s decision to leave out one of the world’s best goalkeepers in Petr Cech in a game Arsenal had to win is inexcusable.
‘It is never a good sign when the manager freezes on the touchline, but Wenger did not even move from the bench when Alfred Finnbogasan scored Olympiacos’ third.
‘Frustration is acceptable, particularly after watching Alexis Sanchez head Arsenal’s equaliser moments earlier. But Wenger’s job is to find solutions; to get them out of desperate situations with the decisions that can turn matches at the highest level. Instead he left it too late.
‘ After this, it will be hard to find a case for Wenger’s defence.’
The Sun – Wenger staring into Euro abyss after latest embarrassment’
‘Richard Wright, Manuel Almunia, Lukasz Fabianski, Vito Mannone…and now the Calamity Colombian.
‘David Ospina became an official member of Arsenal’s cock-up keeper club, writes Charlie Wyett.
‘In the summer, Wojciech Szczesny was the one shoved out of the door on loan to Roma. The Polish international did not always help himself…he is, however, a better keeper than Ospina.’
Starting Ospina has been described as a ‘needless risk’, but the Colombian is hardly a rookie. And it’s far from an unusual for clubs to pay their back-up goalkeeper in the cup competitions and early stages of the Champions League.
Yes, Ospina made a big error, but Arsenal conceded two other goals. Against a team that had lost on all 12 of their previous visits to England, scoring only three times but conceding 37. To pin the Gunners’ defeat on one player or one mistake is too simplistic. To rest Cech was not ‘inexcusable’ as Ashton in the Daily Mail suggested, but to concede a third goal only moments after grabbing a second equaliser most definitely is.
Going into a double header against Bayern Munich, Wenger has far more to complement than simply who to start between the sticks.