Former Arsenal striker Charlie Nicholas has criticised Santi Cazorla and Mikel Arteta for their performances in their Champions League group stage opener with Dinamo Zagreb, while also accusing Olivier Giroud of being childish in the defeat in Croatia, the Metro
Zagreb took the lead in the 24th minute, and Nicholas believes that it was the tempo being set by the Spanish pair in the minutes leading up to the opener that caused the Gunners to go behind (via Metro).
“After 20 minutes I thought it was going nice and easy,” he said.
“But then I started to worry around that period of the game when Arteta and Santi Cazorla slowed it down and a leisurely, horrible slowness crept into their play.
“All of a sudden they were punished,” Nicholas explained.
Things got even worse for Arsene Wenger when Giroud was sent off for two yellow cards. The pundit argued that the dismissal highlighted a naivety on the Frenchman’s part (via Metro).
“The second yellow card was a soft one, but he was arguing with the referee after the first one,” he added.
“You’re away from home, walk away. You’ve bundles of experience. Why do you want to get involved in this little mish-mash with a referee because he ain’t going to listen or pay attention to you?
“He finds that you’re being childish, so stop it. He ended up red-carding him because of a clumsy, silly little soft free-kick,” he insisted.
With Bayern Munich – who have made an unsurprisingly blistering start to the new season – also in the group, defeat against Zagreb means that the Gunners are most probably going to have to settle for second at best, which will frustrate the supporters, knowing that they have fallen at the first knockout phase for the last five years after being handed a difficult draw.
But with their conquerors in midweek now unbeaten in 42 games, there is no guarantee that the Gunners will be able to recover to take second place. A victory against Olympiakos in their next game is a must, but they will have to do it without Olivier Giroud.