Wenger on defeat, discipline, Barcelona

Arsene Wenger faced the media after Arsenal’s 2-0 defeat against Barcelona in the Champions League on Tuesday. You can read a full transcript of his press conference below:

on the result…Of course I’m disappointed because we put a lot of energy into this game. I felt that we lost at the moment that we looked more capable of winning the game, and we also lost it in a way which we could not afford to give them. It’s a bit disappointing to give them the goals that we did, especially the first goal. I feel that we were extremely guilty and have no excuses for that goal.

on whether he has spoken to the players about it…I haven’t spoken to the players yet.

on whether the defeat is hard to take…We were disciplined defensively but we knew that if we had to keep it at 0-0, we would keep it at 0-0. They are better than us, everybody knows that, but I think we could’ve won the game tonight if we kept the discipline until the end. Once again, like against Monaco, exactly the same thing happened. We were caught in exactly the same way.

on not learning from last season’s mistakes…Barcelona master all aspects of the game. As soon as you’re in a bad position, one or two players can punish you. We had two or three opportunities to stop the first goal which we didn’t do because I don’t think we had the right response to the situation that our players faced.

on the away goals feeling like ‘a knife in his heart’…Of course. When your players put in the energy that they have put in tonight, it’s very difficult to take because you want the players to be rewarded. We were impatient in the build-up, we lost balls that we usually don’t and that’s not because Barcelona forced us to do it, but just because we were not precise enough in our passing.

on whether it was nerves…I don’t know.

on a lack of composure in front of goal…We had an unbelievable chance in the first half. The way we finished our chances today is a problem because I felt that we missed something in the final third.

on whether he will play his strongest team in the second leg…Barcelona are certainly through, 95 per cent, but we want to go there and play. We are Arsenal Football Club and we will not go there to just have no chance. What we want is to focus on our next game. It’s a shame that the players have not got any satisfaction tonight because energy-wise we put absolutely everything in.

on whether there is an angry dressing room…When you lose 2-0 at home in the Champions League then you don’t have a happy dressing room.

on whether Barcelona are the best team in Europe…It’s difficult to deny because they are world and European champions. I think they are. Our failure is that the chance was there to beat them tonight, that is the biggest regret I have. Sometimes you can lose against a team and you can do nothing about it, but tonight there was room to beat them.

on being frustrated not to keep it at 0-0…Of course you’re frustrated when you lose the game and it’s always easy to identify the moment where you made the mistake. I feel that maybe we felt on the pitch that we could win the game and we lost our cautiousness to defend. What we knew was going to be vital for us was not to give them a counter-attack, that’s where they’re at their most dangerous.

on whether Arsenal did not play to their game plan…The players didn’t give them a counter-attack on purpose. They want to defend it. It’s just that the first pass is not right, the first position is not right, you lose the ball when you don’t want to lose it and then suddenly you’re out of position and they take advantage of that. It’s not because the players do not want to respect the instructions, they were just caught by the pace of the game. It was an unexpected wrong pass or unexpected position of the first play.

on whether Gerard Pique got a yellow card on purpose…I don’t know. They are tricky. When they go down, they shout. They never go down silent. That influences the referee every single time. All of them do it, not one of them goes down without shouting.

on whether Barcelona did it a lot in the first half…I have to watch the game again. I didn’t look out for it. It’s like they provoke a reflex for the referee.

on whether he had any complaints about the penalty…Honestly, from the bench I didn’t see it at all. I saw that he went down but did he touch it or not? I don’t know.

on whether Flamini was not up to the pace…He warmed up.

on whether the Barcelona players influenced the referee…I felt so but let’s be honest, we haven’t lost the game because of the referee. We have to look at ourselves and analyse ourselves. Maybe he gave one or two fouls which were not fouls but overall he has had no major influence on the result of the game.

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