Harry Redknapp says Arsene Wenger’s decision to rest Petr Cech against Olympiacos encouraged complacency from the rest of the Arsenal team.
Wenger said it was a “farce” to blame Arsenal’s 3-2 defeat on his decision to start David Ospina ahead of Cech, but Redknapp believes his selection sent out the wrong message.
“It was too big a gamble in the most important club competition in the world, especially when they didn’t even win the first game against Dinamo Zagreb,” Redknapp wrote in his Evening Standard column.
“Resting Cech sent the wrong message to the rest of the team. We have seen it time and again in the Capital One Cup where big teams are knocked out after making so many changes because the players think, ‘Oh well, it’s not that important today’.
“It also leads to complacency because the attitude of the players is directly affected. They think, ‘The manager reckons we can beat this lot without our best goalkeeper so it’ll be comfortable’ and the performance level drops. It just doesn’t do any good.
“Look at what happened to Manchester City at Tottenham last weekend when they left Joe Hart on the bench. Arsene didn’t exactly have to look far for an example of what could go wrong.
“David Ospina made a horrendous mistake which cost them dearly. That error sent shivers through the whole team. You could see them looking around thinking ‘Oh my God’ and they never properly recovered their composure.
“There was no reason to rotate a keeper — especially if Cech was fit enough to play at Leicester and fit enough to be on the bench three days later.
“It only breeds the kind of inconsistency Arsenal have shown this season. When things are going their way, they are excellent. Some of the football they played at Leicester was phenomenal but so often they are vulnerable.”
Redknapp also pointed to Arsenal’s vulnerability at set-pieces and labelled Mesut Ozil “pathetic” in his attempts to block a free-kick from the Greek side on Tuesday night.
“They have a problem with set-pieces. Look at them on Tuesday. Who did they have who can head the ball and command the box? They had two players: Laurent Koscielny and Gabriel. Who else is there?” the former Tottenham boss added.
“They have tiny midfielders, small full-backs and Theo Walcott up front. When you have a keeper who also isn’t first choice, you have an immediate concern over who will deal with set-plays.
“Watch Mesut Ozil coming out to try to get a block on the first goal. It was pathetic.
“The ball comes out to the edge of the box and he makes the most half-hearted effort to close it down.
“If someone is going to shoot from the edge of the box, you want your midfielders or defenders to throw themselves at it to do everything for the team, whether you cost £4million of £42m,”