I know it didn’t matter in the great scheme of things, but it was embarrassing for Arsenal’s previously unbeaten reserve side to lose at the home of the Bundesliga’s rock bottom side, Cologne. We had all the possession, but without any end product bar hitting the post it took a usual dodgy penalty decision against us to give Cologne a chance to go through to the next stage after all, despite losing their first 3 games in the Group.
Wenger was adamant that there was no way the penalty should have been given. He said after the game: “We had a lot of possession. We lost the game to one shot, basically. It was a very nice penalty that we have to take on board. It was honestly not a penalty at all. We missed a little bit of the accuracy in our passing in the final third that is required to score more goals. We had plenty of dangerous situations but we always missed a little something to finish our chances. I must also say that Cologne defended with spirit, with commitment and overall the crowd was absolutely fantastic for them.
“I must say that the attitude was good. It took us some time to inject some pace into the game. In the second half, it was much quicker. The pitch was a little handicapped tonight, and the players were because of it, but I cannot fault the preparation or the concentration of the players.”
Wenger seems very sure that it wasn’t a penalty, and Rob Holding, who was right on the spot, seems to agree with him. The defender said: “I was on the right hand-side, so I just saw Per and Debuchy squeeze him out, push him away from the ball and trip over him. I’ll have a look at it and see if it was the right decision, but first thoughts I didn’t think it was.
“I haven’t really spoken to him [Debuchy] about it, I spoke to Per about it and he said he pulled out of [the challenge] because he knew what he [Guirassy] was going to do.”
But Jack Wilshere is not so sure. In fact he thinks the ref was right! Jack said: “To be honest with you I was a long way away from it.
“You can see why the ref gave it, it happened so quick.
“There are two players coming in to sandwich him and if he feels a touch he’s got every right to go down. We can’t blame the ref for that.”
So, was it penalty or was the ref harsh in awarding it? Whatever you think of the decision we have to admit that Sehrou Guirassy put it away extremely well, giving Ospina no chance whatsoever, but then again we never save any penalties given against us!
Well at least Danny Welbeck got some game time at last, but neither him nor Giroud or Wilshere (nor Iwobi in the second half) could find a way through. In fact our best two chances fell to Francis Coquelin, who has still never scored for Arsenal. Reiss Nelson played extremely well when he came on and showed his class. I would have liked to have seen Nketiah come on at the end as well personally. In fact it was a bit like a training game, but it is annoying that they couldn’t win the Group in style….