By Chris Harris
Jack Wilshere has called for Arsenal to dig deep and show their spirit to ensure they don't finish the season empty-handed.
The 19-year-old was arguably his team's stand-out performer at the Nou Camp on Tuesday night as the Gunners went down 3-1 to Barcelona, losing 4-3 on aggregate.
Their Champions League exit comes just nine days after they lost the Carling Cup Final but two trophies are still within Arsenal's grasp - they are just three points behind Premier League leaders Manchester United and travel to Old Trafford this Saturday for an FA Cup Quarter-Final against their title rivals.
Wilshere was as disappointed as anybody as he left the Nou Camp but he won't let his head drop.
"We have got to pick ourselves up," said the 19-year-old. "We have still got the championship, we are just three points behind and with a game in hand. We go to Manchester United in the FA Cup on Saturday and we have to pick ourselves up to get the win there.
"We never give up, that is the spirit of Arsenal. We are still in two competitions and need to get a trophy this year, that will be the aim."
The Champions League was always an outside bet once Arsène Wenger's side were paired with Barcelona in the last 16. However Wilshere was left ruing two key moments in the second half of the second leg - Robin van Persie's second yellow card for perceived time-wasting and Nicklas Bendtner's late chance to snatch a decisive away goal.
"Robin was furious, and even I could not hear the whistle," said Wilshere. "We all know it was a bad decision, but we have to deal with it and move on. It was the wrong decision but that is part and parcel of football.
"I thought we dealt with it quite well, but if there is any team you don't want to go down to ten men against, it is Barcelona. We got a goal back, which was the aim, and we were pushing them, then Robin went off so we had to defend and maybe we just ran out of legs in the end.
"It was a big moment for us, and we were a bit unlucky. [As for the late chance] Nicklas has been brilliant for us and maybe if he had taken a better touch, he would have put it in, but it was not meant to be."
Wilshere will take home some regrets from the Nou Camp but his reputation has been enhanced by two outstanding displays against Barcelona. The 19-year-old held his own against the likes of Xavi and Andres Iniesta and admits he relished every minute of their battles.
"To be playing against people like Xavi and Iniesta is brilliant," he said. "It was a great experience.
"At my age, I am still learning and there are no better players to learn from. Barcelona will probably win the Champions League now because they are the best team in Europe."Copyright 2014 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source 9 Mar 2011