Arsene Wenger defended his decision to rest Petr Cech in Arsenal’s Champions League defeat to Olympiacos – despite David Ospina dropping a major clanger.
Having lost on the opening night of their Group F fixtures to Dynamo Zagreb and with a daunting double-header with in-form Bayern Munich to come, a win over their Greek opponents would have been seen by many as crucial in Arsenal’s hopes of reaching the knock-out stages.
But, after a deflected opener for the visitors through Felipe Pardo and a Theo Walcott equaliser for the Gunners, Ospina failed to deal with a simple corner-kick from Kostas Fortounis and fumbled the ball over the line.
Arsenal hit back again through Alexis Sanchez but Olympiacos sealed their first-ever win in England when substitute Alfred Finnbogason swept home to make it 3-2 shortly afterwards.
Wenger had rested Cech for the defeat in Croatia and benched his lone summer signing again, but refused to blame that decision on what could prove to be a damaging defeat.
“I do not have to give you (the reason) why,” the Frenchman replied when asked why he decided to play Ospina.
“I do not have to sit here and give you any explanation to every decision I make. You are capable to judge and I leave you to that.
“That is a simple thing. David Ospina played 19 games last season and kept 14 clean sheets and last week he had a fantastic game. No keeper is mistake free, it could have happened to Petr Cech as well.”
Wenger accepted responsibility for naming the Colombia international ahead of Cech – but would not answer when asked if it was a decision he was now ruing.
When asked if he regretted the call, he bullishly replied: “I honestly don’t want to go into that conversation with you.
“I make the decisions and selections for the team and I’m responsible for it. I know many things that you don’t know and that you ignore. You cannot select a team by using a poll and getting everyone’s opinion before the game.”
Wenger added: “I do not have to sit here and give you any explanation about every decision I make. You are capable to judge what I do and I leave you to that. Cech had a slight [injury] alert before the game at Leicester. I didn’t want to take a gamble but it’s not because of that we lost the game. It’s a farce [to believe that].”
With Arsenal now bottom of the group many will be questioning if they can make it into the latter stages – but Wenger reckons it is still achievable.
“It puts us in a bad position but we are still in it,” he added.
“We have to think we can deal with Zagreb and Olympiacos and we need a result in our next game away from home against Bayern Munich.”
Olympiacos coach Marco Silva hailed his players for a monumental victory and does not want to now set a target for where his team can go in the competition.
“Whichever team comes here to win needs to know how to suffer, to put up with the pressure and I think that was one of the key features here today,” he said.
“We ran a lot and resisted when Arsenal try and tire you, we were very well-organised defensively and had quick response to Arsenal’s goals which is very important.
“We can’t set limits, we are here and our duty is to improve every day. We know that there are a lot of differences between our team and others like Bayern and Arsenal.
“Our budget is much smaller than theirs but we can’t set a limit to what we want to achieve and how hard we work. These kids believed they could take a win in this stadium and worked really hard for it.”