Arsene Wenger fielded, what a lot of fans are calling a “Carling Cup” side, a weakened team and Arsenal paid for it. Olivier Giroud was sent off for Arsenal as they lost at Dinamo Zagreb in their opening Champions League game. The Gunners went behind after a Josip Pivaric shot was saved by keeper David Ospina but rebounded in off Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Giroud was then sent off for a second booking when he fouled Ivo Pinto before Junior Fernandes headed in for Dinamo. Theo Walcott superbly slotted in to give Arsenal hope but the home side nervously held on for the win.
Walcott had scored a hat-trick at the same Maksimir Stadium for England against Croatia in 2008 but, despite pulling one back, he could not repeat such heroics. Dinamo held on to extend their unbeaten run to 42 games as they won against an English top-flight side for the first time in the Champions League. France striker Olivier Giroud has been criticised for not being clinical enough in front of goal and he only added weight to that argument against the Croatian champions. He had a free header from a corner palmed away by Dinamo keeper Eduardo and, when he saw another effort come off a post, Giroud failed to sidefoot in the rebound as the home stopper smothered his point-blank shot. The Arsenal forward’s frustration got the better of him when he was booked for dissent after his reaction to the referee blowing for a foul against him.
It proved crucial as he was then sent off for a second bookable offence when he caught Pinto with a late challenge after 40 minutes, as Arsenal’s failure to sign a striker in the summer transfer window again came into focus. Arsenal lost their opening game of last season’s Champions League when they were beaten 2-0 by Borussia Dortmund, but recovered in a group also comprising Galatasaray and Anderlecht. This time they face a more difficult task to make it past the group stages and keep alive their hopes of winning the competition for the first time. The Gunners host Olympiakos next before home and away fixtures against German giants Bayern Munich.