Arsenal go through to CL last 16 with defeat at Olympiakos

Terrible start to season continues as defeat means tougher draw in last 16

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 06 December, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 06 December, 2012, 2:18am


Arsene Wenger challenged his stuttering Arsenal team to prove they are good enough to rescue a season teetering on the brink of disaster after the Gunners' latest defeat.

Wenger's side crashed to a 2-1 defeat at Olympiakos that ended their hopes of pipping Schalke to first place in group B of the Champions League and condemned them to a daunting draw in the last 16.

Arsenal would have taken pole position with a victory in Athens as eventual group winners Schalke were held to a 1-1 draw by Montpellier.

But they wasted that lifeline in typically careless fashion as Olympiakos scored twice in eight minutes in the second half through Giannis Maniatis and then Kostas Mitroglou to overturn Tomas Rosicky's first half opener.

It was another blow for Wenger, who is coming under increasing pressure from the club's fans following Arsenal's worst start to a Premier League season in his 16-year reign.

The Gunners, currently 10th in the league after Saturday's woeful 2-0 home defeat against Swansea, have now won just two of their last nine matches in all competitions and Wenger concedes they need to bounce back against West Bromwich Albion on Saturday to ease the sense of crisis engulfing the club.

"It is a good opportunity for us to keep focused and to show strength and unity. That is what you want to do in the next game," Wenger said.

With the January transfer window less than a month away, Wenger has been linked with a host of players, including Schalke forward Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha.

But the Frenchman, who sent out a weakened team against Olympiakos, refused to be drawn on whether he would ship out some of his underperforming stars and bring in new faces.

"We have a strong squad, but in certain areas we are a bit short because we cannot rotate.

"We will see where we stand on January 1 and see what we do," he said.

After seven years without a trophy and a patchy run of form, Arsenal harbour only slender hopes of winning the Champions League. "We need a good Christmas present now [in the draw], but we will see," he said.