Two games, two defeats: Arsenal are on the brink of falling out of the Champions League at the first hurdle this season.
Goalkeeper Petr Čech, who won the competition in 2012 with Chelsea, has been benched for both of those games. Surely he will return for the crucial clashes against Bayern Munich?
It isn’t just a problem at Arsenal, but English clubs are struggling across the board. The 33-year-old has his own theory as to why it’s happening.
“I know from my own experience why. If you look at the game against Olympiacos, the only time they looked like they couldn’t cope was when we played at full intensity,” Čech explained during an interview with Sport. “In the European game, there is not the same rhythm, even down to the way the referee blows the whistle more often than in the league and how everybody is kind of cheating with the time.
“The English teams are so used to playing end-to-end stuff that, when the game slows down, everyone gets frustrated.”
Before last season, Arsenal had only been knocked out by European giants. It was more forgivable that way, but three defeats in our last four European games have come at the hand of AS Monaco, Dinamo Zagreb and Olympiacos.
They’re all big teams in their own countries but they shouldn’t be causing major clubs issues, especially not away from home. Yet, somehow, both Monaco and Olympiacos won at the Emirates Stadium in Arsenal’s last two European home games.
“We always had a problem with the Italians [at Chelsea] because they made us almost fall asleep with the way they walk around. You think: ‘Oh, the game is easy,’ and suddenly you are 3-0 down because you fall into this trap.
“We need to be more cautious in European games because every week English teams get caught. We need a change in mentality to make that switch between Premier League and European games,” Čech added. “You know it’s going to be more tactical and slower. So you need to make sure that, even if the game goes really slow, you pick up your own intensity. It’s the only way.”
After being dropped for David Ospina in the two Champions League games so far this season, Čech has been willing to express his frustration. It’s shared among Arsenal fans, for whom the Champions League is still something of a holy grail.
We are the only club in England to go unbeaten through a season in the modern game, but we haven’t ever been crowned the best team in Europe.
“The other factor is that we spend so much energy on every game in the Premier League that sometimes the teams you play prepare better because they can afford to rest players [in the league],” Čech said. “You can’t do that here. If you want to win it, you have to play every game 100 per cent – no matter what.”
Hopefully the manager is reading what his goalkeeper has to say and does field his best side for the upcoming fixtures.
If we don’t beat Bayern Munich, nobody can grumble, but the same mistakes need to be stopped.