Oct 01, 2015

    Wenger stands by Arsenal selection after Ospina howler


    ARSENE Wenger refused to take the blame for Arsenal's Champions League crisis after his selection gamble backfired in a humiliating 3-2 defeat by Olympiakos.

    His team had never lost their opening two Champions League games, but they have now imploded twice - against Dinamo Zagreb and Olympiakos - to leave their Group F campaign in turmoil.

    And it is Wenger's curious decision to make a host of changes for both European fixtures that has played a major role in the defeats, which leave Arsenal in danger of failing to qualify for the knockout stages for the first time in 16 years.

    After making six changes for the loss in Zagreb earlier this month, the Arsenal manager threw caution to the wind again and made another five alterations for Olympiakos' visit to the Emirates Stadium on Tuesday.

    Crucially, he opted to leave Petr Cech on the bench and selected David Ospina in goal instead and the move went spectacularly wrong as the Colombian's horrendous howler handed the Greek club their second goal.

    Yet Wenger remained defiant when asked if he regretted his failure to send out his strongest team.

    "I make the decisions, I pick the team and I'm responsible for it," he said.

    "I know many things that maybe you don't know and you ignore.

    "You can't select the team by making a poll before the game."

    Pressed on why he had decided he could do without the experience of former Chelsea star Cech, an increasingly tetchy Wenger refused to accept he had blundered.

    "I don't give you why. I don't have to sit here and give you explanations about every decision I make," he said.

    "Cech had a slight (injury) alert before the Leicester game and I didn't want to take a gamble.

    "It's not because of that we lost the game.

    "Ospina played 19 games and kept many clean sheets. Last week at Tottenham he had a fantastic game.

    "It (the mistake) could have happened to Cech as well."

    With back-to-back fixtures against group leaders Bayern Munich coming next, Wenger's team could be eliminated by early next month.

    But the Gunners boss is convinced they can still nick a win against the Germans and find a way to sneak through.

    "It leaves us in a bad position but we are still in it," Wenger said.

    Even by Arsenal's sloppy defensive standards, this was a new low for Wenger's men, but he was adamant it was not the worse European result of his reign.

    "No. If you sit on the bench and lose in the Champions League final you will have the answer," he said.