Average Arsenal have little left to play for this season

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Average Arsenal have little left to play for this season after they limped out of the Europa League in a dramatic injury time defeat.

Moments after captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang seemed to have once again saved them with his 113th minute overhead goal they were stunned by Youssef El-Arabi’s effort six minutes later to send them crashing out on the away goals rule.

With only the FA Cup left to play for there will be no Champions League football in the red half of North London next season.

Arsenal ultimately had only themselves to blame and on a night they played so poorly and even at the very death Aubameyang missed an open goal that would have sent them through.

Olympiacos had lost 10 of their previous 11 away ties in Europe and their celebrations were unprecedented at the end as some Arsenal players were moved to tears.

The Premier League’s leading scorer struck an overhead effort in the 113th minute as Mikel Arteta’s side were sliding towards the lottery of a penalty shoot out against an equally unimpressive Olympiakos side.

A second-rate competition, maybe, but the atmosphere was unusually intense for this rarely full stadium. That was largely due to the vast contingent of travelling Olympiacos supporters who took over Arsenal’s Clock End to sing, jump and whistle with a passion not so evident in the home fans.

Perhaps Arsenal, spoiled by two decades of constant Champions League nights under Arsene Wenger can be excused for not being over excited about a Thursday night clash against a side boasting scarcely any household names of elite European football.

They were still here in numbers, however, to get behind Arteta’s full strength line-up. No messing about with back up goalkeepers and blooding kids for the young Arsenal manager.

The Greek side started well enough, as they had when they were last in north London playing Tottenham in the Champions League last November, but Arsenal gradually pegged them back as they attempted to build on their slender first leg lead.

This Arsenal side’s propensity to concede goals at a moment’s notice means the Emirates crowd can never fully relax and there was a customary scare shortly before half-time. Arsenal right-back Hector Bellerin was caught out of position and midfielder Mohamed Camara was played clear only to run out of steam and shoot wildly into Bernd Leno’s side netting.

But do not be fooled into thinking that was remotely a high quality, high intensity game for it was anything but. Arsenal failed to record a shot on target until the 82nd minute Olympiakos, who were not much better.

But it was the 53rd minute Olympiakos goal that finally gave this tie a real edge. David Luiz was guilty of ball watching as a corner came in from the left and Cisse strode through the middle of the penalty area unmarked to head in with ease against non existent defending.

Moments later Leno was flying at full stretch to tip a Konstantinos Tsimikas effort over the bar and the Olympiakos fans behind his goal went into over drive.

Arsenal found their voice too and the tire entered its final half an hour with Arsenal needing to score to prevent them match from going into extra-time.

That was hardly surprising considering they had yet to register a single attempt on target by the time Arteta made his first attempt to change his side’s fortunes by replacing Dani Ceballos with midfielder Lucas Torreira with less than 18 minutes to go.

It did not seem an attacking move but Arsenal improved and soon camped around the Olympiacos goal as Lacazette missed the target with a great chance to score from a close range header. All Olympiacos had to do, of course, was try to nick a winner on the break. The stakes were high at both ends of the pitch.

Extra-time followed and although Arsenal had all the possession, Olympiakos had the best chance as substitute Bruno Gaspa lifted over the bar from inside the area.

Arteta used his fourth substitute, a UEFA extra-time rule, to send on Gabriel Martinelli for Lacazette for the final 15 minutes but it was Greek replacement Giorgos Masouras who first made an impact by hitting the Arsenal cross bar.

Then came the real drama as first Aubameyang scored and then Arsenal allowed Olympiacos to steal the tie and the glory when all seemed lost.

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