Arsene Wenger claims his side switched off in the final 30 minutes as his side squandered a three goal advantage ito draw 3-3 against Belgian minnows Anderlecht.
The Gunners looked to be cruising to a third consecutive Champions League win that would have secured safe passage to the knockout stages only for a brace from Anthony Vanden Borre and Aleksandar Mitrovic’s last gasp header to cancel out goals by Mikel Arteta, Alexis Sanchez and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
“You have to give them [Anderlecht] credit because the fought until the end and we had a poor defensive performance from the first to the last minute today,” a frustrated Wenger told press after the game.
“We never felt comfortable and somewhere we got punished because of bad luck. The first goal was offside but defensively our performance was not good enough to do it. Secondly at 3-0 we thought the job was done and it was a combination of switching off and fatigue as well.
“You could see we couldn’t win the challenges and they finished stronger and sharper – we got punished.”
Having been lucky to pickpocket three points in Brussels, the boss put the two results in perspective, adding:
“It’s very disappointing but overall over the two games we got four points. I think we are well paid for our two performances.”
Obviously annoyed by thecapitulation he also made clear that few of his players met the standards required to see out the win, although he did reserve praise for Alexis Sanchez.
“He was one of the very few who was at his level. He was involved in the three goals. He was one of the two or three players who were at their level.
“I think when we lost Mikel Arteta we lost out because he was one of the few who defended well. That didn’t help. Apart from that maybe we underestimated subconsciously Anderlecht and got punished. In the Champions League you need to be at the mental level or you get punished and certainly we were not.”
Arteta is understood to have suffered a hamstring injury and left the field in the aftermath of Anderlecht’s first goal back. It remains to be seen how serious the injury is but it’s likely he’ll miss Sunday’s trip to Swansea.
A solitary point from Arsenal’s two remaining games against Borussia Dortmund and Galatasaray will still see them qualify, but the chances of topping the group are out of our hands now.
To be honest though, there’s not much point worrying about drawing one of Europe’s big guns in the next round when a hibernating hedgehog could have rattled in a hattrick against us this evening.
If anyone can recall a match in which we surrendered a three goal lead at home do let us know in the comment section…