Arsene Wenger: Monaco did not deserve last-eight place
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger says Monaco did not deserve their place in the Champions League quarter-finals after failing to register a shot on target in the second leg of their tie.
The Ligue 1 side advanced on away goals after beating Arsenal 3-1 at Emirates Stadium before losing 2-0 in Monaco.
Asked if Monaco deserved to progress, Wenger said: “I don’t believe so.
“If you look at the number of shots on target they had you will be surprised. Every defeat hurts but we didn’t lose.”
Wenger’s comments contrasted with those of captain Per Mertesacker.
The German World Cup winner said: “The best team went through. Monaco deserved it because they played much better in the first leg.
“We came here and tried absolutely everything. We could have scored more than two. We regret the first game.”
Needing to score at least three unanswered away goals, the Gunners went ahead through Olivier Giroud’s close-range finish.
Aaron Ramsey came off the bench to score late on, but Monaco held on.
It is the fifth straight year Arsenal have exited at the last-16 stage.
While the previous four defeats have been at the hands of Bayern Munich (twice), AC Milan and Barcelona, Wenger said this one was the most disappointing.
“I would take it separately from the other years,” he said. “The overall situation is very disappointing but if you look at the game tonight it is very positive. This game is in line with what we have done recently.”
Arsenal’s victory was their eighth in nine games and handed Monaco their first home defeat in 17 matches.
But Wenger, a former Monaco coach, blamed the overall result on “impatience” in the first leg.
The Gunners had made it 2-1 at the Emirates with a goal in the 90th minute only for Monaco to score a third in added time.
“We paid for not producing the performance we wanted in the first game but this time Monaco played at home, had zero shots on target and go through to the quarter-finals,” he said.
‘Judge us at end of season’
Arsenal are on course to qualify for next season’s Champions League, sitting third in the Premier League, a point behind Manchester City and seven points off leaders Chelsea, who have a game in hand.
Should they finish in the top four, it would be the 18th consecutive season in which the Gunners have reached Europe’s elite competition.
The FA Cup holders are also in the last four of this year’s competition, in which they face Championship side Reading.
Wenger said it was important the season did not drift away from his team.
“I am realistic enough to know that every season is different and we will judge it at the end of the season,” he said.
“Tonight we didn’t have a disappointing performance. We want to take this performance into the rest of the season.”
‘Do Arsenal have right mentality?’
Former England international Danny Mills disagreed with Wenger and questioned Arsenal’s mentality.
Mills, who played for Leeds in the 2001 Champions League semi-finals, told BBC Radio 5 live: “Do Arsenal have the right mentality, the game-management and the character?
“They should have seen out the first leg 2-1. This was a 180-minute game. Do Arsenal still have a little bit of arrogance, naivety, or a lack of experience in those key positions for the big moments?”