After the gut-punching late goal for Olympiacos at the Emirates last night, it looked as if there would be no chance of an Arsenal comeback.
The Greek side scored in the 119th minute to make it 2-1, and with so little time remaining it appeared to be a done deal.
Football is full of surprises though, and an Arsenal side which had found it tough to create chances were suddenly presented with one via a ricochet off an Olympiacos defender. The ball fell invitingly for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, whose spectacular overhead kick had been the cause for such celebration just a few minutes previously, but remarkably he pulled the ball wide of the post.
Slumping to his knees in disbelief, he could make sense of what had just happened, but with that miss went Arsenal’s European campaign for this season.
To his immense credit, he fronted up for an interview on BT Sport in which his pain was evident. Asked how he summed up those final crazy minutes of the game, he said, “I don’t even know. I feel very, very bad.
“This can happen. I don’t know how I missed this chance.
“I was tired and I had some cramps as well, but it is not an excuse. I have to score this goal, but it can happen.”
As for our Europa League exit, and with it an avenue to next season’s Champions League, he continued, “What can I say? It’s very, very hard, very tough. It was a tough game again.
“I think we missed putting some pace in the game … that cost us a little bit. Then the last minute goal was unlucky for us. That’s it.
“We try to keep improving in the league and we’ll try to win as many games as possible, and we’ll see how many chances we have to qualify.”
With 20 goals to his name, Aubameyang has done more than most to add a sheen of respectability to this season, so the finger of blame shouldn’t be pointed at him.
In truth it was a poor performance overall, and one that Mikel Arteta and his players need to respond to in a positive way, not feel sorry for themselves.