Arsene Wenger had no doubt as to what was the root cause of Arsenal’s 2-1 defeat to Dinamo Zagreb in the Champions League.
Was it his decision to rest key players? No. Was it the call to play Mikel ‘no tackle’ Arteta? No. Was it the choice of David Ospina in goal, resting Petr Cech despite the goalkeeper only making 21 club starts since April 2014? No. Was it Olivier Giroud’s stupid fouls to get himself sent off? No. Was it the referee’s fault? Oh yes.
“We were not at our best, but nor was the referee tonight. The first yellow card it was Giroud’s fault for protesting about a foul given in his favour.
“On second yellow card he was completely unlucky to touch the guy. I don’t understand the referee. Giroud didn’t see the guy, it was accidental completely. It was not a second yellow, it has to be a foul on purpose. Then he should have given many yellows tonight.”
“It is difficult because we had a lot of the ball and we had early chances and we were a bit unlucky. I believe the first goal is offside and the sending off is very harsh and we fought hard to get ourselves back in it. It was hard getting back into it after the second goal where we did not defend very well.”
At last! After three paragraphs of moaning, an acceptance from Wenger that his side failed to defend well. Especially from set pieces, it must be said.
However, Wenger rejected the idea that the six changes he made from the team that beat Stoke 2-0 were to blame:
“I don’t believe those who came in had a bad game, but I will have to analyse that well. It is difficult to give an answer straight after the game. After they went 2-0 up we were open to the counter-attack.”
Arsenal now face Chelsea on Saturday lunchtime knowing that defeat will only increase the calls that his lack of summer spending has again placed a ceiling on Arsenal’s ambition.