Posted by News Express | 12 March 2014 | 3,385 times
Arsenal Manager Arsène Wenger has blamed a combination of poor refereeing and the antics of Bayern Munich’s forward Arjen Robben for the London club’s ouster from this year’s European
Arsenal drew 1-1 in Germany last night to go out 3-1 on aggregate and Wenger’s grievances, as he digested a fourth consecutive last-16 defeat, started with the decision to send off his goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny in the first leg for a foul inside the area on Robben.
Bayern missed the resulting penalty and they missed another one last night in injury time, which was awarded for another foul on Robben, this time by the defender Laurent Koscielny. Robben had earlier been guilty of a blatant dive, with Santi Cazorla in attendance, and Wenger lashed out at the Holland winger.
“What made the difference was the decision to send our goalkeeper off in the first game,” Wenger said. “That decision had a huge impact. It was on the same player who got the penalty again tonight and that’s a regret. Robben is very good at getting the maximum of nothing. He’s a great player as well a very good diver but it’s part of him.”
Robben responded: “I always say if you are a big manager, then take your loss ... if you win, be happy, enjoy but, if you lose, don’t complain about silly things. It was two penalties. From a big manager you expect a little bit more.”
Wenger praised Arsenal for their spirit and he felt that Bayern could have been overhauled in the second half. “They are a good side but I think this season they were more vulnerable than last year,” he said. “We had to defend a lot in the first-half but we knew that being in the game at half-time [at 0-0], gave us a good chance to win the game. I believe that in the second half the opportunities were there for us.
“The frustration I had is that in the last 20 minutes I felt Bayern were very vulnerable defensively but we didn't take advantage. We always missed the first pass and we never got them really under pressure. At 1-1, you could see they suddenly became nervous but because we could not get to 2-1, you could not see how they would have responded. They are a great side but we still have regrets over the two games.”
Arsenal lost to Bayern at this stage last season, and before that to Milan and Barcelona. In 2009-10 they went out to Barcelona in the quarter-finals.
“When you go out in the last 16, the trophy doesn’t get closer,” Wenger said. “The great regret we have is that in the last five years we played Barcelona twice and Bayern twice and, every time, when they were at the top of their game.
“In the last two years we were very harshly done because away from home ... if you look at our record in Germany, we have not lost here for a long time. But it is at home that we were caught and I think especially this season, the decision to send our goalkeeper off at home was a big part of the tie.”
Wenger continued to argue that Szczesny’s foul on Robben at the Emirates Stadium had not represented the denial of an obvious goalscoring opportunity and, as such, he should not have been sent off. And he returned to his criticism of Robben.
“I would not deny he is a fantastic player but ... he gets in front of a player and then he slows down [and] he goes down. He gets the free-kicks. If he gives him a yellow card on the first one [near Cazorla] when he goes down, he will not do it again.”
Wenger added: “I have to congratulate the players on the heart and the effort they put in tonight. They were absolutely outstanding on that front. We wanted to come out of the tie qualified and with pride. We did the second part, not the first part.”
Like defending champions Bayern Munich, Spanish giants Athletico Madrid are also in the quarter-finals after crushing visiting AC Milan of Italy 4-1 last night to leave aggregate scores at 5-1.
In today’s matches, Manchester City of England face an uphill task away to Barcelona in Spain after losing 0-2 at home in the first leg while Germany’s Bayer Leverkusen are in France for a formality tie with hosts Paris St-Germain, who roasted them 4-0 in the first leg.
•Photo shows Arsene Wenger.
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