The honeymoon is over for Mikel Arteta.
Youssef El Arabi’s last-gasp strike for Olympiacos made sure of that – sending Arsenal crashing out of the Europa League in the cruellest way possible.
It had looked so much like Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang would save him when the Gunners skipper struck a spectacular overhead kick in extra time.
That cancelled out Pape Abou Cisse’s opener for the visitors and put Arsenal back in front in the tie – but after El Arabi’s crucial away goal, Aubameyang then missed a sitter.
It was only Arsenal’s first defeat in ten. But it dumped them out of a Europa League tie they should have had under control – and it in truth this was a horrible, abject performance.
It got what it deserved.
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Leading 1-0 in the tie after Alexandre Lacazette’s winner in Greece, Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta was not in the mood to take any no chances.
This was as strong a line-up as he could possibly have fielded, and his side made a confident start as they went in search of a place in the last 16.
Olympiacos are top of the Greek league and unbeaten in that competition, but they’d only managed one win in 12 European knockout matches before kick-off.
So few inside the Emirates gave them much hope of coming from behind to cause an upset, and Nicolas Pepe fired a warning shot across their boughs with an early free kick.
Lacazette then thought he’d scored but Bukayo Saka, who has the most assists in the competition this season. was rightly judged offside from Granit Xhaka’s pass.
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But it was pretty uninspiring stuff with the visitors offering little threat and many of the home fans only too happy to nip out for a cuppa well before the half time whistle blew.
And then, finally, a breakthrough. But when it came it was Olympiacos who scored it.
They say beware Greeks bearing gifts but it was Arsenal who delivered this one on a plate, allowing Cisse a free header from a corner.
It should have acted as a wake-up call. But Arsenal carried on looking strangely lethargic as Arteta paced around his technical area with a frown on his face.
And the Greeks actually looked the more likely team to score again with Leno at full stretch to keep out Konstantinos Tsimikas.
Only then did Arsenal come alive, with Pepe’s shot saved and Lacazette’s follow-up header wide. He should have done better.
Then Frenchman was wasteful again shortly afterwards, and substitute Lucas Torreira failed to work visiting keeper Jose Sa too much either with a shot of his own.
David Luiz headed over from a corner as the game swung from end to end with time running out, but there were plenty of nervous moments for the home side too.
And Arteta just looked relieved to hear the whistle so he could get hold of his players and regroup for extra time.
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Bruno Gaspar had the chance to win it for the visitors just before half time in extra time but blazed his shot way over the bar.
And fellow sub Giorgos Masouras then hit the bar with Arsenal hearts well and truly in mouths – but with eight minutes to go, Aubemyang struck
He had a lot to do from Ozil’s half-cleared cross, smashing home a sensational overhead kick, but it just made El Arabi’s late late strike from a Masouras cross the cruellest of daggers.
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