Wenger praises young guns
By Football News
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger was proud of his young side despite their 2-1 loss to Olympiacos on Tuesday.
Tomas Rosicky opened the scoring before goals from Giannis Maniatis and Kostas Mitroglou helped the Greek side to victory in the Champions League clash.
With Schalke drawing against Montpellier in the other Group B encounter, Arsenal would have finished top if they had won on the road.
Wenger said he was happy with his younger brigade – including the likes of Francis Coquelin and Jernade Meade – despite the result.
"I feel with young players, you can discover them in competitions like tonight. They have the quality and I believe if everybody is fit we have a strong squad," he said.
"But in certain areas of course, when you have players like (Abou) Diaby and Rosicky not fit like was the case into now, we are a bit short because we cannot rotate.
"We'll see where we stand on the 1st of January and see what we do."
Wenger was also unhappy with the refereeing in the lead-up to the equaliser, which saw Maniatis bundle in from a corner.
Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny felt Paulo Machado's header hit the post and had not been saved.
"We had a good first half. I believe we dropped physically in the second because many players lack experience at that level therefore we couldn't take the chances for the second goal," Wenger said.
"On top of that, we got a very bad decision against us on the goal. I am not against the fifth referee but you would like them to be at least concentrated on their job and that was not the case tonight."
With his team now facing the prospect of taking on one of Europe's best sides, Wenger said he was hoping for a favourable draw in the round of 16.
"We need a Christmas present of a good draw now and we could get a bad draw or a less strong team," he said.
"The only disadvantage we have is we will play the second leg away from home but statistically it is not proven it is a disadvantage."
Olympiacos coach Leonardo Jardim said he was delighted his side managed to finish their Champions League campaign with a win.
"It's fair to say we are not happy because we were already out of the Champions League, but we wanted a win tonight and to make the fans happy – and we did that,'' he said.
"It's true that our league starts late and that cost us in the early games."