Thursday 26 February 2015 08:14, UK
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger described his side’s 3-1 loss to Monaco in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie on Wednesday as a “horrible night” for the club.
The Frenchman could only watch on in horror as Arsenal’s chances of reaching the last eight of Europe’s premier club competition for the first time in five years appeared to go up in smoke at the Emirates.
However, Wenger made no excuses for his player’s limp display after the full-time whistle, calling it “a horrible night,” before adding: “We had both aspects wrong: we had chances that we did not take and were suicidal defensively because we were open on the second and third goals.
“We knew at half-time it was important to keep our nerve and with the vast experience we have through this competition, we knew we could not afford this. And so on that front we are guilty.”
"Mentally we were not sharp enough to get into this game and we paid for it. The team is strong physically but we missed the chances. If you look at the number of chances we missed tonight you can't do that at this level. Defensively we were not at our level but our weakness was more mentally."
But what most annoyed the Arsenal coach was the visitors’ final goal in stoppage time.
“Even at 2-1 how can we with one minute to go just leave the whole half open? It is difficult to understand.
“We controlled the game quite well, but with their first shot they scored a deflected goal. Everything went for them tonight, but on top of that you see as well why Monaco have done well in the group stage. They are well organised and physically very strong, they did not weaken through the game, but we did.”
And looking ahead to the return leg in the South of France in three weeks’ time, Wenger said “the task is massive now and the third goal makes it even more difficult, but we will have a go of course and see what we can do there.
“It is very, very disappointing, but Champions League is down to performance on the day and when you do not perform at the level that is requested for 90 minutes you are punished as the teams have the quality.
“We knew before the game they absorb you and hit you on the break, and what happened is exactly that. But congratulations to Monaco, they fought and defended really well and caught us on the break.”