By Chris Harris
Manuel Almunia refuses to blame Arsenal's lengthy injury list for their Champions League exit.
A 6-3 aggregate defeat to Barcelona sent Arsène Wenger's side out of the competition at the Quarter-Final stage thanks largely to the genius of Lionel Messi, who scored four times in Tuesday's second leg.
While Barcelona could call on their star turn, Arsenal had to do without a number of big-name players with Cesc Fabregas, Andrey Arshavin, William Gallas, Alex Song and Robin van Persie among their absentees. But Almunia does not believe that was decisive.
"Maybe [we missed players], but it's not an excuse," he said.
"I think Barcelona didn't go against us with everything like they did at Emirates and I think we missed some players but we cannot use that as an excuse."
Almunia must be sick of the sight of Messi after he scored a 21-minute hat-trick in the first half and then nutmegged the goalkeeper with the final whistle approaching. The Spaniard admitted that the Argentinean was too hot for Arsenal to handle.
"You can afford two or three chances but he got five or six and he will score," said Almunia.
"You try to guess, you try to anticipate what he's doing but his skills are great and you can't do anything about that. You have to be very lucky to stop him.
"That's why now we can be disappointed but we have to accept that Barcelona played great football, attacking football, they have great players and they have been superior to Arsenal over both legs."
Almunia - Injuries no excuse for Euro exit
By Chris Harris