Arsene Wenger swiftly turns focus to Premier League following latest defeat for Arsenal
Gunners beat 2-1 by Olympiacos
Wednesday 05 December 2012
Manager Arsene Wenger maintains Arsenal must forget about the Champions League for a while and concentrate on recapturing their domestic form after last night's 2-1 defeat at Olympiacos ended hopes of seeding for the knockout stage.
With qualification already secure ahead of the last Group B tie, Wenger elected to leave several first-team regulars behind as 20-year-old defender Jernade Meade made his European debut.
Although Czech midfielder Tomas Rosicky fired the English side ahead after 38 minutes, the Greeks fought back through a controversial effort by Giannis Maniatis and a well-taken strike from substitute Kostas Mitroglou to leave Wenger facing more questions about the direction of his team - who have now not won in the last four and plummeted down the Barclays Premier League table.
"Let's see [what happens in the draw], but for now it is important for us to focus on the [domestic] championship, forget about the Champions League a little bit and get ourselves back in decent form in the championship," said Wenger.
Arsenal, who were beaten 2-0 at the Emirates Stadium last weekend, host fifth-placed West Brom on Saturday.
Wenger challenged his team to produce a response.
He said: "It is a good opportunity for us to keep focused, to show strength and unity, that is what you want to do in the next game."
Wenger refused to be too downbeat after last night's defeat.
"We left eight or nine players at home and we had a positive game," he said.
"We had a good first half, but we dropped physically in the second half because many players lack competition at that level and therefore we couldn't take the chances for the second goal.
"We also got a very bad decision against us on the goal. I am not against the fifth referee, but you would like at least for them to be concentrated on their job, but that was not the case tonight, Wojciech Szczesny was far away from the ball.
"Why didn't the fifth official tell the referee? It's difficult to understand, to concede a corner when it doesn't go off the goalkeeper.
"However, I don't want to make a fuss of it, so we have to take it on the chin and go home and focus on our next game."
Rosicky had just come back from an injury lay-off, and Wenger revealed his second-half substitution was pre-planned.
He said: "He is a bit tight, muscular, but no [new] injury. We will see how we recovers now for Saturday."
Defeat in the Georgios Karaiskakis Stadium for a second successive season coupled with Schalke's draw in Montpellier means Arsenal will head into the knockout stages without the security of a top seeding.
Wenger, though, is not overly concerned. He said: "We need a good Christmas present now (in the draw), but we will see.
"We can get a bad draw or less strong team, but you normally get strong teams through anyway now.
"The disadvantage is we have is we play the second game away, but that is not statistically proven to be a such a disadvantage."
Olympiacos coach Leonardo Jardim, meanwhile, must now prepare his side for the Europa League, having in the end finished only one point behind Arsenal.
The Portuguese said: "We just had to focus on getting the win, to become one of the top seeds for the Europa League and to play well in front of our fans, so I am pleased we achieved both of these aims."
Latest in Sport
Paul Scholes: Manchester City were so good against Liverpool I felt like turning the television off
Arsenal transfer news: Could Arsene Wenger move for Danny Welbeck, Loic Remy or Edinson Cavani after Olivier Giroud's injury?
Manchester United transfer news: Daley Blind will only move for 'top price'
Arsenal vs Besiktas match report: Alexis Sanchez scores only goal as Gunners survive night of nerves to qualify for Champions League
Champions League draw: When is it and who could Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City face in the group stage?
- 1 Paul Scholes: Manchester City were so good against Liverpool I felt like turning the television off
- 2 Notting Hill Carnival: Woman shares selfie after being ‘punched in face for telling man to stop groping her’
- 3 Pamela Anderson rejects ice bucket challenge because of ALS experiments on animals: 'Mice had holes drilled into their skulls'
- 4 Homer Simpson takes the ALS ice bucket challenge because of course he does
- 5 Hello Kitty is not a cat after all
Exclusive: We share blame for creating 'jihad generation', says Muslim strategist
Robin Williams Emmys tribute led by Billy Crystal criticised for including 'racist' joke about Muslim woman
The Rotherham child abuse scandal is a tale of apologists, misogyny and double standards
Scottish independence TV debate: Pumped-up Alex Salmond bounces back in bruising second round against Alistair Darling
Do you realise just how foolish the UK looks?
Ukip Douglas Carswell defection: Tory MP jumps ship to join Nigel Farage