herald

Monday 18 December 2017

From Jim van Wijk, Press Association Sport, Monaco

From Jim van Wijk, Press Association Sport, Monaco

Arsene Wenger believes Arsenal can take positives from the bitter disappointment of bowing out of the Champions League despite winning in Monaco.

The Gunners were always going to be up against the odds to reach the quarter-finals as they needed to overturn a 3-1 deficit from the Emirates Stadium.

No team had recovered from such a deficit in the Champions League era when heading into the away second leg, and it proved too big a gamble in the principality, famous for its casinos and yacht-lined waterfront.

Olivier Giroud's first-half effort and Aaron Ramsey's goal on 79 minutes set up a grandstand finale, but the valiant Gunners fell short when Monaco goalkeeper Danijel Subasic saved a late header from Alexis Sanchez to keep the score at 2-0, ending Arsenal's European dreams at the last-16 stage once again.

Wenger accepted Arsenal had left themselves with too much to do, but believes with both the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley and a renewed drive in the Barclays Premier League ahead, there remains plenty left to play for.

"I don't believe we had a disappointing performance, it was a positive performance and you can take that into the end of the season," said Wenger following his first return to the club he led to the French title in 1988.

"It was a very difficult task. If you look at the numbers, we had a 98 per cent chance to be out, but we did fight and produced the game we wanted.

"At half-time, the game could have been over with the chances we created, overall we pay (for the fact) that in the first game we did not produce the performance we wanted.

"Monaco played at home, had zero shots on target, and yet go to the quarter-finals."

Wenger added: "Football is not a fairytale, it is a matter of being realistic and being clinical, maybe a bit lucky as well, maybe that is part of the game.

"If you take a look at the shots on target in the two games, they were well rewarded, and were very clinical.

"They really surprised us in the first leg when we were too sure of ourselves on the night."

At the full-time whistle, the Monaco bench celebrated wildly as they reached a first Champions League quarter-final since 2003-04.

Monaco coach Leonardo Jardim accused Arsenal of being "disrespectful" to them at the Emirates.

"In the first leg, when I wanted to shake his hand, he did not thank me, so this time even though Arsenal did everything possible to go through, I chose not to thank him," the Portuguese coach said.

"I think so (that was disrespectful) and right now we are celebrating and think that Arsenal may be did not show all the respect that they should have during the first leg."

Jardim, whose side had been viewed as one of the weaker seeds for the knock-out stages despite their formidable defensive record, felt his team were worthy of progress.

"Nobody was expecting us to be here. It's a great reward, so we have to give credit to the players for what they did," he said.

ends

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