Thursday 17 January 2019

Jenkinson: Runner-up spot frustrating

Arsenal's Carl Jenkinson
Arsenal's Carl Jenkinson

Carl Jenkinson admits it is frustrating for Arsenal to once again face the prospect of advancing as runners-up from their Champions League group.

However the defender insists they are still in an enviable position compared to some of their rivals.

The Gunners passed up the opportunity to clinch top spot in Group A as they were held to a draw at home by Paris St Germain on Wednesday night.

The 2-2 stalemate means the Ligue 1 champions know a victory at home to Ludogorets in their final match will be enough to win the group.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger admits that leaves his team with a 90 per cent chance of advancing to the last 16 in second place for the fifth season in a row, meaning they are more at risk of drawing some of the strongest teams left in the competition.

Having not made it into the last eight for the previous six seasons, topping the group would have theoretically given Arsenal a better chance at going further into the competition. But after an earlier 1-1 draw in Paris, PSG hold the upper hand on away goals in their head-to-head record.

Yet Jenkinson knows the likes of north London rivals Tottenham, who are already certain to be eliminated at the group stage, would love to be in Arsenal's shoes.

Asked whether Spurs would love to be in their position, full-back Jenkinson said: "Well exactly.

"It is not easy to get through to the last 16. Tottenham have obviously seen that and we have done well to get to this point. It is frustrating that we are sitting in second but that is the rule and you have to take it on the chin. You can look at it as a tough night. It is always going to be, playing against a top team. I think we played well, the head-to-head rule is very frustrating, I'm not a fan of that and I think it is a shame.

"We have held our own and are joint top at the end of the day, the only thing that is holding us back is the head-to-head rule, which is frustrating when you look at our superior goal difference and it counts for nothing.

"We are through to the last 16 anyway and the way the competition goes, you can get drawn against anyone, you never know who you are going to get drawn against."

Arsenal - who return to Premier League action at the Emirates Stadium against Bournemouth on Sunday - were again caught out after the kind of slow start which saw them fall behind at Manchester United on Saturday, as well as in the Champions League win in Ludogorets.

"It (starting slowly) has happened a couple of times of late. I think at Man United we especially didn't start at our best and against PSG similarly. It is something we have got to be aware of."

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