For once Arsene Wenger did not back his players despite another disappointing Champions League performance. Instead the Arsenal boss criticized his players for an ‘average’ performance after Barcelona all but ended their hopes of reaching the quarter-finals of the Champions League on Tuesday night.
Talking after the game the Gunners manager accused his players of naivety after ‘giving away’ the game in the closing stages after putting in a competitive performance against the holders.
The Gunners had held their own against the European champions for the first 70 minutes, and heading to the Camp Nou tied 0-0 would have been a good result. Instead Arsenal let Lionel Messi turn on the style in the final 20 minutes, first finishing a swift counter-attack after Arsenal were brutally exposed before converting from the penalty spot after a rash Mathieu Flamini challenge.
And Wenger was clearly frustrated that Arsenal surrendered their position in the tie late on.
‘Barcelona are a great team, we knew that before the game,’ the Arsenal boss told BT Sport after the game.
‘We put a lot of energy in the game, but I believe technically we were very average overall.
‘The regret I have is that once we look like we are dominating the game in the last 15-20 minutes we give the goal away.
‘Similar to Monaco, naïve, that is what is frustrating. When we looked like we could win this game we just gave it away.’
The question many Arsenal fans have to be asking tonight is whether it is the players that are naive or is it the manager Time and time again Arsenal get themselves into these situations in the Champions League where they cannot see results out. Where they continue to press for a goal, leaving themselves exposed to the counter-attack which kills the tie off. Is that the players fault or the fault of the coaching staff?