There was always some concern that Arsenal were relying too heavily on the UEFA Europa League and that they needed to balance that out with what they were doing in the Premier League. Regardless of whether you believe that or not, there’s no denying the fact that they let their guard down in a big, big way against Olympiakos.
Not quite delivering
The Greek side lost the first leg 1-0 and didn’t seem to have all too much in their locker, but in the second leg, they were able to pick off an increasingly nervous Gunners side. You could see the magnitude of the situation getting to every single one of those Arsenal players, and it felt like that was the case for Mikel Arteta too after he made a series of schoolboy errors from a tactical point of view.
Aubameyang thought he’d won it for Arsenal in extra time, Olympiakos edged ahead with a minute or so left to play, and then Aubameyang missed a sitter that would’ve sent the Gunners into the last 16. These things happen in the crazy world of football, and things can be determined by such incredibly fine margins. As it is, though, Arsenal are no longer playing European football this season with their sole focus being on the FA Cup and Premier League.
A game to forget
It’s silly to suggest that all hope is lost for this Arsenal team because that isn’t even remotely the case. The fact that they aren’t playing on Thursday nights anymore could wind up benefitting them in a big way, with some of their rivals still having to compete in either the Europa League or the Champions League. Still, even if their fans don’t want to admit it, the Europa League has been a big part of their identity over the last few years and that’s no longer going to be the case – perhaps until next season.
Arteta knows that he needs to try and take the positives away from this result, as difficult as that may seem. It’s going to be a long few weeks for them but if they’re able to navigate their way towards a win streak in the top flight, they could easily find themselves situated in the top five come the end of the season. While this is pretty bleak, now isn’t the time to give up hope.
Where do Arsenal go from here?