By Richard Clarke

It is the way of modern football. After a major defeat comes a major backlash.

Arsenal’s Champions League exit on Tuesday has been followed by a barrage of opinion – some optimistic, some realistic and much negative. At his pre-match press conference on Friday, Arsène Wenger had to contend with what he called “definite conclusions”.

But the Frenchman argues that the gap between his side and Manchester United was not as wide as the aggregate score suggested.

“I respect everybody’s opinion,” he said. “But I have my beliefs and I am convinced that this team has improved a lot.

“I don’t deny that Man United deserved to go through but we are hugely frustrated with the way it happened in the second leg. We did not have a chance to show how good we were because the game was over after 10 minutes.

“The most difficult thing in the modern game is putting yourself in the position where you have to chase the game. You could see that with Barcelona against Chelsea – after 10 minutes Barca were in a position where they had to chase the game and they were closer to losing 4-0 or 5-0 than to drawing 1-1. 

“We were in that position after 10 minutes at Old Trafford and that made it very difficult.

“I know by experience that afterwards people always take definite conclusions but I believe the distance between the two teams is not as big as people make out today.”

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8 May 2009