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Missed opportunity

Ray Wilkins - Ray Wilkins Posted 7th November 2012 view comments

Arsenal looked worryingly vulnerable as they let a two-goal slip to draw against Schalke in Group B of the Champions League, says Ray Wilkins.

First-half goals from Theo Walcott and Olivier Giroud gave the Gunners a healthy advantage, but Klaas-Jan Huntelaar reduced the deficit for the hosts in first-half stoppage time before Jefferson Farfan salvaged a point with a deflected 67th-minute strike.

Schalke remain top of the group as a result - one point ahead of Arsenal - but Wilkins told Sky Sports that given their start, Arsene Wenger's men could now be sitting in pole position.

"You'd expect a side like Arsenal, when they've gone two goals up so early, just to take full control," reflected Wilkins.

"That was the old Arsenal - take full control of the game and if anything they'll come out winning by three or four.

"But that wasn't the case - as soon as Schalke put them under any pressure whatsoever, they looked very vulnerable."

Confidence

Walcott, making only his fourth start of the season, could have won the game in stoppage time with his 51st goal for Arsenal but failed to beat Schalke goalkeeper Lars Unnerstall when he burst through the middle.

Wilkins felt that the 23-year-old, who is still in negotiations over a new deal at the club, should have done better but showed a clear reluctance to use his right foot.

"He's got to take it on his left side," said Wilkins. "If he can get his head up off the floor, the goalkeeper was there for the ball to be lifted over the top.

"But when you get in that situation you've got to have the confidence to take it on your left side.

"Theo said the ball got stuck in his feet - well, I didn't think it did. I think it was on his left-side and he should have taken it on his left side."

Pressure

Nevertheless, Wenger believes the performance proves his side is getting back to its best and says he is confident Arsenal can reach the knockout stage.

Sky Sports expert Glenn Hoddle agreed - praising the Gunners' battling qualities - but said that didn't mean it wasn't a difficult night for the manager.

"If Arsenal had got to half-time with a 2-0 lead, that would have been the real key and they would have gone on but they did concede a stupid goal," said the former England boss.

"In the second half Wenger would have been very, very uncomfortable sitting on the bench because Schalke put them under immense pressure and had some very good chances.

"Arsenal did have a couple themselves - Giroud and Walcott had chances - but really it was a battling performance from Arsenal.

"It wasn't what we are used to seeing. Arsenal usually have possession - I don't think I've ever seen Arsenal have so little possession all night. But it was a good character-building performance."

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