Greek tragedy for Arsenal as Fabianski and Mannone fail
Arsene Wenger's second string effort at Olympiakos shows just how thin the Arsenal squad is
THE SCORE – Olympiakos 3, Arsenal 1 - does not matter because Arsenal were already through to the knock-out stages of the Champions League before last night’s game. But the manner in which Arsenal lost should give Arsene Wenger sleepless nights.
He put out a second XI – no Van Persie, no Walcott, no Szczesny – and all they achieved was to show just how thin the Arsenal squad is.
Centre stage were his two back-up goalkeepers Lukasz Fabianski and Vito Mannone, who did more to cement Wojciech Szczesny's position as first choice keeper at the Emirates than the Pole himself could have done.
Fabianski was at fault for the Greek side's opener as Rafik Djebbour easily skipped round him to score. Then, midway through the first half, his night came to an abrupt end as he was wiped out in a collision with players including team-mate Thomas Vermaelen.
That brought Italian Vito Mannone into the fray. The 23-year-old had demanded the chance to prove himself in the first team but after just ten minutes he came rushing out of goal to head clear a long ball, only to find Olympiakos midfielder David Fuster, who half-heartedly knocked it back towards the goal. By now Mannone was back in his area, but he elected to kick the ball away, missed horribly and could only watch as it trickled into the net.
A Yossi Benayoun goal gave Arsenal hope, but Mannone, who last had a decent run in the Arsenal side in 2009, was beaten again by Francois Modesto in the dying minutes.
Afterwards Wenger admitted his side looked "insecure defensively". French defender Sebastian Squillaci did not enhance his reputation. "It is a sad truth that when Squillaci plays, Arsenal look vulnerable," said David Hytner in The Guardian.
Jeremy Wilson in The Daily Telegraph noted: "Marouane Chamakh and Andrei Arshavin continue to look pale imitations of the players who so excelled when they first arrived in English football."
To make matters worse, left back Andre Santos suffered an ankle injury and will be be out for some time. ·