Petr Cech has leapt to the defence of under-fire team-mate Alexis Sanchez and insists any claims that the player was laughing at Arsenal's plight during their 5-1 thrashing to Bayern Munich are "disrespectful".
Sanchez came in for criticism when he appeared in jovial spirits while sat on the bench having been substituted during Arsenal's record defeat at the Emirates Stadium.
The Gunners crashed out 10-2 on aggregate to the Bayern having also slipped off the pace in the Premier League title race, although they returned to winning ways with a 5-0 FA Cup quarter-final win over non-league Lincoln on Saturday.
Arsenal 1 Bayern Munich 5 player ratings
Arsenal 1 Bayern Munich 5 player ratings
1/22 David Ospina – 6 out of 10
This Champions League tie may be Arsene Wenger's last as Arsenal manager
2/22 Hector Bellerin – 6 out of 10
Played well in the first half in attacking down the right to support Walcott, but was ineffective in the second and he fell asleep to allow Costa and Vidal in behind him for the fifth, though by that point the entire Arsenal side was asleep.
3/22 Shkodran Mustafi – 5 out of 10
Showed a nice pass to put Walcott in when he should have bagged a second, but the loss of Koscielny alongside him again exposed his weakness. Sloppy passing after the break, and completely gave up after the second goal.
4/22 Laurent Koscielny – 6 out of 10
Looked switched on from the get-go a he blocked Robben’s shot before deflecting two crosses out for a corner. However, the game turned again on his departure, as he tripped Lewandowski in the area without trying to play the ball, receiving a red card in the process.
5/22 Nacho Monreal – 5 out of 10
Got forward on occasion and offered support to Giroud as the striker preferred the left side of the Bayern defence. However, he simply isn’t good enough to defend at this level as he repeatedly played the Bayern attack onside.
6/22 Aaron Ramsey – 6 out of 10
Looked a yard short of his best given his lack of football, but grew into the game as it wore on. Won a free-kick just before the break with a nice turn on Martinez and started to have a bigger influence in the central role that he craves. Replaced when the game was done at 2-1.
7/22 Granit Xhaka – 6 out of 10
Looked much more controlled early on as he protected his back line and showed a nice passing ability to spray the ball from flank to flank. But with the collapse went his discipline, and picked up another booking for a terrible tackle on Rafinha.
8/22 Theo Walcott – 7 out of 10
Started the match with a point to prove and went about doing it in the perfect way. Two early runs should’ve alerted the danger, and the third produced the opener as he beat Neuer at his near post, seven years after his last Champions League knockout goal. Should’ve had a second from the same position, but fired into the side-netting. Much quieter in the second half, and probably the only Arsenal player who showed his best out there.
9/22 Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – 6 out of 10
Moved to a central role and enjoyed having more influence in the game. Drifted to the right on occasion but the end result was missing.
10/22 Olivier Giroud – 6 out of 10
In at the last minute for the ill Danny Welbeck. He brought a physical threat to Bayern, and nearly found the net with an early header after getting above Hummels. Missed na even better chance after the break when unmarked in the centre of the box, but somehow headed over.
11/22 Alexis Sanchez – 6 out of 10
A lively start on his return to the side, as he was providing the link between the midfield and Giroud up top. Gave away possession that nearly led to a Bayern goal for Lewandowski, and departed when Wenger knew the game was gone.
12/22 Manuel Neuer – 6 out of 10
It’s not often you can say he should have done better, but he should have done better. Punched Walcott’s fiercely struck effort high into the roof of his own net. Rarely tested otherwise.
13/22 Rafinha – 6 out of 10
Brought into the side for the suspended Philipp Lahm, and he did an adequate job of shackling Sanchez that forced him inside.
14/22 Javi Martinez – 6 out of 10
Booked for a cynical foul on Ramsey as he ran towards the Bayern area. Looked the weak link at the back, but once the Arsenal attack wilted he was allowed to run forward and nearly bagged himself a goal, heading just over.
15/22 Mats Hummels – 6 out of 10
Passed too easily by Walcott for the goal, and struggled to cope with the England winger’s pace on the left.
16/22 David Alaba – 6 out of 10
Struggled desperately with the Walcott-Bellerin combination on his flank, and his early shot at goal from a Robben corner was always curling away from the target.
17/22 Xabi Alonso – 7 out of 10
Apart from a corner that failed to beat the first man, he oozed control and class in the middle of the field. Happy to sit back and let his teammates take the plaudits, but he’ll be sorely missed.
18/22 Arturo Vidal – 8 out of 10
Lucky to get away with a high foot on Sanchez that could have brought a booking, and his early sighter at goal from long range wasn’t a handsome one. But as Bayern cut loose, so did he, and he linked up delightfully with Douglas Costa twice at the end to go home with two goals to his name.
19/22 Arjen Robben – 8 out of 10
Gave Monreal problems early as he cut in on his left foot, only to have his shot blocked. Saw another effort from the right well saved by Ospina. Lovely flick over the defence should’ve brought a goal from Lewandowski before the break. Aware enough to capitalise on Opsina’s poor clearance and link with Lewandowski to score his goal.
20/22 Thiago Alcantara – 8 out of 10
Another virtuoso performance from the midfield that is really starting to come of age. Links the play beautifully between midfield and Lewandowski.
21/22 Franck Ribery – 6 out of 10
Stood still and watched Walcott run away from him for the opener in a lazy daze. The only disappointment the Bayern attack.
22/22 Robert Lewandowski – 8 out of 10
Missed a sitter late in the first-half when put through by Robben, and he could only guide the ball wide of the far post. Split the Arsenal defence after the break to win a penalty and send Koscielny for an early bath, and tucked home the spot-kick coolly, as you’d expect. Should have had a second, but his close-range effort struck the post.
Sanchez scored and played a pivotal role in the victory but had been dropped for the defeat at Liverpool a week earlier amid speculation he had been involved in a training ground bust-up.
Manager Arsene Wenger refuted those reports but, after taking the Chile forward off during the Champions League humiliation, Sanchez was photographed laughing with Cech.
But the experienced goalkeeper explained the situation and said Sanchez had been just as low as his colleagues following the humbling at the hands of Bayern.
"It is sad and he was as sad as I have seen him," the former Chelsea goalkeeper said.
"Unfortunately when you say the sentence, 'had we scored the second goal everything could look different' and then you do 'ooph' (exhale) you know, but in the end the reality is you are 5-1 down and somebody twists it and says you are laughing on the bench.
"I found it very disrespectful to the player. But obviously you can take the picture and you can interpret it the way you want unfortunately.
"But we the players, we know exactly what he said and we know how he was hurting and he was as disappointed as anybody else. It is unfortunate and disappointing."
Cech also defended Wenger as the manager continues to come in for criticism and increasingly splits the Arsenal fan-base as he admits he does not know if he will sign a new deal or leave the club when his contract expires in the summer.
Arsenal have lost five of their last eight, only beating non-league pair Sutton and Lincoln and Premier League strugglers Hull in that time, but Cech reckons the players are just as much to blame as Wenger.
"In a way the manager plays as big part but you as a player are on the pitch," he said.
"He cannot make you run if you don't want to he cannot make you make the right decision in the heat of the moment.
"The players obviously have to share the responsibility, everybody has to share the responsibility for the position we are in and everybody has to work to get ourselves out of it.
"This is the way it is. This week after Bayern especially was a difficult three days, we had to make sure we got ready, and we got ready and this is the reaction you need.
"I think in football everything goes fast and as fast as you can go up you can go down. So basically every day you work to be ready.
"In football you only work for the things you can control, you cannot control the outside world, you can only control your preparation, you can only control your performances.
"So as a player you focus on that and I believe as a manager he does the same thing. This is going to be the key now, be ready, be prepared as a team and then do the best we can do. Then I think if you bring the results, (the) atmosphere will change."
A second protest march against Wenger's reign in the space of a week was held before the Lincoln tie and, with more and more criticism appearing to come his way, the Frenchman is long enough in the tooth to know he will never please everyone.
"You have to accept that nothing is good enough," he said.
"You have to live with that and we have to accept that. The world has changed. No matter what happens in the future, you will always have to lose games.
"Nobody can guarantee that you will only win games. Look, we are in the semi-finals of the FA Cup. How many times have we been in the semi-finals of the FA Cup? So..."