Arsene Wenger has taken his longstanding insistence that finishing fourth is like winning a trophy to a new level by losing each of Arsenal’s first two Champions League group stage matches of the season, putting them last in Group F.
Arsenal’s intentions to cement their place at the bottom of the group were made clear when they allowed Olympiacos to score first in the 33rd minute, then goalkeeper David Ospina, starting in place of Champions League winner Petr Cech, batted a corner over his own goal line after Theo Walcott equalized.
All of this happened within a span of seven minutes.
In the second half, Alexis Sanchez scored to give Arsenal their second equalizer of the match, but just one minute later, the delightfully named Alfred Finnbogason scored what would be the winner.
This comes after Wenger confirmed that five consecutive years of being eliminated from the Champions League in the round of 16 has driven him insane. Following Arsenal’s elimination on away goals to Monaco last season, Wenger shared an unusual perspective (via the Guardian):
“Maybe it would be better not to advance from the group phase and play the Europa League than be eliminated right away in the last 16,” Wenger said. “We would have more chances to win a title.”
Clearly, this is what he’s trying to do. And with losses to Dinamo Zagreb and Olympiacos already, plus consecutive matches against the unstoppable goal machine that is Bayern Munich (who beat Dinamo and Olympiacos by a combined score of 8–0 when they faced Arsenal’s tormentors), it seems likely that he will either finish fourth or his second favorite position — third, which would get that Europa League place he desires.
Once there, he will surely do everything in his power to ensure that Arsenal reach the semifinals, then lose, so they can finish fourth there instead.