Charlie Nicholas delivers his verdict as Arsenal and Celtic crash out of the Europa League
Arsenal were beaten on away goals by Olympiakos; Celtic were beaten 3-1 by Copenhagen at Celtic Park
Last Updated: 28/02/20 4:05pm
Former Arsenal and Celtic striker Charlie Nicholas delivers his verdict as his former clubs crashed out of the Europa League on Thursday evening...
First up, Nicholas discusses Arsenal's shock exit on away goals at the hands of Olympiakos.
The Gunners thought they had snatched victory late in the second half of extra time through Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's stunning volley, but Youssef El Arabi popped up in the 119th minute to shock the Emirates and cap a historic night for the Greek side.
Here's the former Arsenal striker's thoughts on where Arsenal are under Mikel Arteta following their Europa league exit...
- Arsenal 1-2 Olympiakos (agg: 2-2) - Match report
- Mikel Arteta: Arsenal exit hurts 'big time'
- Arsenal fixtures | Arsenal results
Nicholas: Result typical of where Arsenal are
"The result against Olympiakos is typical of where Arsenal are.
"Has Mikel Arteta improved them? Of course he has. Has he changed the dynamics? No, he cannot do that. It is impossible. If you think he has, with the likes of Granit Xhaka and Shkodran Mustafi in the side, while looking at David Luiz as the leader, then you are in denial.
Debate: What no for Arsenal's season?
Arsenal were sent crashing out of the Europa League in agonising fashion by Olympiakos on Thursday night, so what now for their season?
"I am a fan of Bernd Leno, but he gets lazy and slack-minded, and the whole of the defence is like that. Arteta has worked on the shape and protection with organisation - it is better and it looks better, but the issue is not solved.
"I watched them win at Olympiakos, this was their best route into the Champions League. However, they are a million miles away from a team that would win the Europa League. This is not the toughest Europa League to win. Some of the teams that have come in from the Champions League are not as great as what they were. Sevilla are not as good, Ajax are now out too."
'Arsenal still have a long way to go'
"Arsenal still have a long way to go to improve.
"Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang had the chance of a lifetime, and those are the fine lines. It is not the attack that I am overly worried about. It is the belief.
"How can people say Mustafi has improved? Really? Just because he has kept a few clean sheets. Xhaka was supposedly unbeaten in a number of games too. That does not make him a great player or part of Arsenal's future. Their future will not be at Arsenal. They been part of a group that have made it sound as though everything is good. It really isn't.
"It is ridiculous how they cannot see out a victory at that stage, even with the pace of Gabriel Martinelli on the counter-attack, or the organisation and shape at the back to defend. A simple cross and finish won the game and that is typical of the scenario and a task that Arteta faces. It is an aspect which Arsenal have not been taught and do not understand.
"He has made them better for a period but in reality it will still be the same."
Nicholas not convinced on top four chances
"They still have a chance to finish inside the top four of the Premier League. I am not convinced though as the weaknesses are there.
"Until these players are replaced, Arsenal will not get the ingredients to move forward.
"I have enjoyed small improvements under Arteta, the attacking side of things in particular, which includes Gabriel Martinelli, Bukayo Saka, Joe Willock and Eddie Nketiah. I can seriously look at and say these young players are very good.
"However, I am gutted they are out of the Europa League, but it so typical of Arsenal. They cause their own problems and cause their own damage.
"Getting to ninth in the league and out at the last 32 stage is not an improvement. They do have the top four and the FA cup to go for.
"Anything like that would be fabulous, but this team has a long way to go before their problems are solved."
'Massively disappointing for Celtic'
Celtic also crashed out at the round-of-32 stage following a 3-1 home defeat at the hands of FC Copenhagen.
And Nicholas thinks Neil Lennon's side have passed up a golden opportunity.
"It is massively disappointing. A lot look at the Celtic scenario and ask why they so blinkered on the domestic title. It is bragging rights in Glasgow and in Scotland. When I was a kid, the difference with the nine in a row was that Celtic won the European Cup in 1966/67 alongside this, while Rangers won the Cup Winners Cup in 1971/72. The standards were unbelievable and both sides were dragging one another along.
"Rangers surprised me with a fantastic result, just like their win over Celtic in December - they have been poor in between.
"Celtic are cruising the domestic setup, and it seemed they thought they had done the job against Copenhagen too, who were average. I picked out three players of prominence and Celtic, especially when they got to 1-1, became slack and lazy, leaving themselves exposed.
"They would not win the competition. That is because they play well for 45 minutes and switch off for the second half. At this level, you get picked off, and easily picked off in the end by an average Copenhagen side, who could not believe their luck. I expected them to get through and they let me down.
"Celtic are tremendous domestically, as well as being mentally tough. They manipulate the results and get over the line. It is so typical of them in Europe. Did they expect the crowd to get them there? They forgot the basic principles of defending.
"What a golden opportunity that they missed, to see where the draw could have taken them."