Belfast Telegraph

Monday 21 April 2014

Wenger: Champions League failure 'a massive wake-up call' for the Premier League

MUNICH, GERMANY - MARCH 13:  Arsene Wenger, manager of Arsenal reacts during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 second leg match between Bayern Muenchen and Arsenal at Allianz Arena on March 13, 2013 in Munich, Germany.  (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Bongarts/Getty Images)
MUNICH, GERMANY - MARCH 13: Arsene Wenger, manager of Arsenal reacts during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 second leg match between Bayern Muenchen and Arsenal at Allianz Arena on March 13, 2013 in Munich, Germany. (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Arsene Wenger last night warned that the failure of all four of the English clubs competing in the Champions League to reach the quarter-finals of the competition, the first time it has happened in 17 years, was “a massive wake-up call” for the Premier League.

Wenger’s Arsenal team won 2-0 at the Allianz Arena, shocking Bayern Munich who suffered only their third defeat of their season but progressed to the last eight on away goals. Olivier Giroud scored after three minutes and Laurent Koscielny added a second with five minutes remaining but Wenger’s players could not score the third that would have taken them through 4-3 on aggregate.

Wenger said: “It’s a massive wake-up call for English football because for a long, long time we were not used to that [having no sides in the last eight}. If you think about it is a massive wake-up call for us [English football] ... it means that the rest of Europe has caught back up with us and we have to take that into consideration in the way we think about the future of the Premier League.”

Wenger said he was “proud” of his team’s performance. “I am, as well, very disappointed for everybody that follows Arsenal that we didn’t get the third goal. There was time to score and when you look at the game you have many regrets about the first game [a 3-1 Bayern victory at the Emirates].”

He added: “To qualify is 180 minutes and it is a bit similar to last year against Milan when we ‘missed’ the first 90 minutes and nearly got through in the second [leg] when we had our backs to the wall. Our regret tonight is that the first game at the Emirates. The weight of that third goal you saw [last night]. It was massive.

“We were under pressure. A bad performance [last night] would have been terrible for morale of the team and for pride as well. The regret that I have is that there is potential in this team and now, of course, we are out the competition.”

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