Santi Cazorla and Mikel Arteta did not impress the former Arsenal player on Wednesday night.
It was a game that Arsenal would have been expected to win comfortably, despite the 42-game unbeaten run their opponents were on at the time.
However Arsene Wenger has made changes to the team and they lacked explosiveness in a pedestrian performance that trickled toward defeat, with Olivier Giroud sent off for good measure.
Former Arsenal player Charlie Nicholas, who played at Highbury for four years in the 1980s, was at no doubt about when he decided the game was going south. He laid part of the blame at the door of the two Spaniard’s in midfield, Mikel Arteta and Santi Cazorla, for the way in which they slowed down the game in Zagreb.
He stated on Sky Sports:
"It was really, really poor.
"There were six changes and although that's a bit over the top for me, I still think it should have been enough to get a win, never mind a point.
"After 20 minutes I thought it was going nice and easy, but then I started to worry around that period of the game when Arteta and Santi Cazorla slowed it down and a leisurely, horrible, slowness crept into their play. All of a sudden they were punished.”
He made a good point. With Cazorla and Arteta in the middle Arsenal are lacking in pace and tenacity. They make up for it with guile and craft but Francis Coquelin, the all action no nonsense midfielder was clearly missed in the fixture.
When he is rested, Arteta and Coquelin cannot be the go-to partnership – with Aaron Ramsey surely having to be present in the wake of yet another injury to Jack Wilshere.
In fact, it just shows once again that Arsenal should have signed another central midfielder in the summer.