ARSENAL boss Arsene Wenger refused to accept that he was culpable of making too many changes despite his side starting their Champions League campaign in abject fashion against Dinamo Zagreb last night.
An Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain own goal and Junior Fernandes header proved decisive for the hosts, as did a first-half red card for striker Olivier Giroud, while a late strike from substitute Theo Walcott proved a mere consolation.
Wenger shuffled his pack and selected six fresh faces from the side which recorded Premier League victory over Stoke on Saturday, although Arsenal became the third Premier League side to flounder in the Champions League this week.
“When we don’t win I have to look at myself but deeply I don’t believe the loss is down to the fact that we changed players,” said Wenger. “But we haven’t won so I am in the same boat as the players.”
An incisive Dinamo move in the 24th minute ended with full-back Josip Pivaric’s shot rebounding off Arsenal goalkeeper David Ospina and into the net off retreating midfielder Oxlade-Chamberlain.
The Gunners’s plans for a revival were thrown into chaos six minutes before the half-time as Giroud, who had already been booked for dissent, received his marching orders following a late challenge on defender Ivo Pinto.
Dinamo doubled their lead shorty before the hour mark as Fernandes directed a near post header beyond Ospina. Arsenal were handed a lifeline with 11 minutes remaining when substitute Walcott, who scored hat-trick for England in the Maksimir Stadium in 2008, slid the ball past Dinamo stopper Eduardo Carvalho.