Thu, Mar 09, 2017 - Page 16 News List

Arsenal loss adds to Wenger’s woes

‘DIFFICULT SITUATION’:The Arsenal manager said his players had performed well, but raeferee Sidiropoulos’ decisions were to blame for their second-leg defeat


Bayern Munich midfielder Arturo Vidal, second right, scores past Arsenal goalkeeper David Ospina, left, during their Champions League last-16 second-leg match at the Emirates Stadium in London on Tuesday.

Photo: AFP

Arsene Wenger said that he is in a “very difficult situation” after Arsenal’s wretched campaign hit a new low with a humiliating Champions League exit against Bayern Munich.

Wenger’s side suffered their heaviest home defeat for 19 years as Bayern romped to a 5-1 victory on Tuesday that sealed a 10-2 aggregate success in the last-16 tie.

It was an evening of abject misery for Wenger, who was subjected to calls for his resignation from Arsenal fans before and after one of the most chastening losses of his 21-year reign.

Wenger complained that refereeing decisions had denied his team the chance of an epic fightback after Theo Walcott’s opener was canceled out by a Robert Lewandowski penalty that led to the dismissal of Gunners defender Laurent Koscielny.

However, the way his team surrendered so limply in the closing stages, conceding four more goals while fans rained boos and abuse down on Wenger, was a sign of the turmoil gripping the Emirates Stadium.

With Arsenal’s Premier League title hopes in tatters and even a top-four finish far from certain, Wenger had already faced criticism following his decision to drop Alexis Sanchez for Saturday’s loss against Liverpool — a move that reportedly followed a blazing row between the striker, his manager and several teammates.

While the final score against Bayern might have been harsh on Arsenal, it was a defeat that did little to stem the feeling Wenger is destined for an acrimonious exit.

Asked if he would be managing Arsenal in Europe next season, Wenger, who has yet to reveal if he will extend his contract when it expires at the end of the campaign, gave a response that invited renewed speculation about his future.

“I don’t know, you always want headlines. I’m here to speak about football not my future,” he said. “I’m don’t feel there was any uncertainty from the players. We played very well.”

“At the moment we are going through a very difficult situation, but I think this club is in great shape,” he said. “What needs to change is a good result at the weekend. We play the quarter-final of the FA Cup against Lincoln [City], and we want to focus on that and do our job properly.”

Questioned about the protests, Wenger opted against criticizing the supporters, saying: “I have nothing to add to that.”

Instead, he focused on slamming referee Tasos Sidiropoulos for the decisions that condemned Arsenal to a seventh successive failure to advance from the Champions League last-16.

“I have to take it on the chin and I will get a lot of criticism, but it doesn’t make it right,” he said. “The end result will not highlight the quality of our performance. The players haven’t let us down, the referee has.”

“The referee was very powerful for Bayern. Not only was it not a penalty, he was offside, and on top of that he gave a red card,” he said. “It leaves me very angry and very frustrated because we are in a difficult situation.”

While Wenger faces up to a troubled end to the season, Bayern boss Carlo Ancelotti remains on course for a triumphant season that could feature a Bundesliga, Champions League and DFB Pokal treble.

Ancelotti said that Arsenal had put Bayern under heavy pressure before the penalty decision.

However, the former Chelsea boss was not concerned about damage to Wenger’s reputation.

“Wenger has more experience than me, he knows he has to manage the pressure,” Ancelotti said. “Until the penalty it was difficult for 60 minutes. Arsenal played really well and we made mistakes we don’t normally do.”

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