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Column: Unnecessary mental pressure placed on Arsenal players after Olympiakos defeat


Arsenal suffered their second consecutive Champions League defeat on Tuesday night and with Bayern Munich coming up next, twice, making it through the group stage of the competition becomes an arduous task. team manager Harry Robertson assesses the situation at Arsenal and says the players will waste unnecessary mental energy way too early this season.

Watching Arsenal play is always a beautiful experience.

But they can be as equally frustrating to watch when they make inexplicable defensive mistakes like those made on Tuesday night at the Emirates against Olympiakos in the Champions League.

At the end of August I said that Arsene Wenger will regret the decision not to bring a new defender to add stability and experience to his defensive department and the way the Gunners conceded on Tuesday clearly shows why.

The first goal was like a training ground move with no opposition - Felipe Pardo had all the time in the world to position himself on the edge of the penalty area, undisturbed, and fire past David Ospina.

The second one was comical for obvious reasons and Felipe Pardo was again undisturbed as he assisted Alfreo Finnbogason who kept his cool to slot it past the Arsenal goalkeeper for Olympiakos' third.

It must be frustrating, especially for someone like Alexis Sanchez.

The Arsenal offensive department - almost always - does its job. Theo Walcott is doing exceptionally well as a central striker, the Chilean is back to his very best and Santi Cazorla is always Mr. reliable with his consistent performances.

But if you score two yet you concede three because the defence makes comical mistakes at the back then it's time to ask some serious questions.

Now I can already foresee the headlines on October 19, twenty four hours before the home game against Bayern Munich: "It's like a final!"

Really? Like a final? In October?

Imagine how you would feel if your manager tells you so early in the season that the next game is like a final, that if you lose you will wave goodbye to one of the season's major objectives?

And if they win, as equally important will be the second Bayern Munich game at the Allianz Arena but that one comes days before the North London derby against Tottenham Hotspur at the Emirates.

Two key games in five days.

It is clear the Arsenal players will spend an immense amount of physical and mental strength on their next two European games and what must be frustrating for them is that all of this could have been easily avoided because let's not forget that they also conceded from a set-piece against Dinamo Zagreb.

Exactly three years ago, Mikel Arteta was concerned about set-piece defending.

Three years later the problem is yet to be addressed.

The fact is that if they are to qualify from Group F, they will be forced to spend a large amount of energy that ideally, would have been spent later on in the season.

And with Danny Welbeck and Jack Wilshere out until the end of the year, rotation is not really an option for Arsene Wenger.

Will they reach the Last 16 of the Champions League? Maybe. They are capable of producing an unforgettable performance at the Emirates against the German champions but you expect to be under this sort of pressure in March or April, not in October.

And on the long run this will hurt Arsene Wenger's men.

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