Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has made the stunning claim that his side would be better off in the Europa League next season, after repeatedly failing to make an impact in the Champions League.
Tuesday night’s 2-0 win in Monaco was not enough to prevent a last-16 exit as Arsenal lost out on away goals rule following their 3-1 first-leg defeat at the Emirates last month.
And Wenger, who has been in the competition for 17 straight seasons, says that his side might even be better away from the top-tier competition in future given their recent trend of exiting almost as soon as the knockout stages have begun.
The third-placed team in each Champions League group – a fate that Wenger has never suffered – move into the Europa League rather than a total exit from Europe, and the Arsenal boss believes that might be a better silverware opportunity.
When asked whether he was unhappy at Arsenal’s repeated exits at the second-round stage, Wenger said: ‘Yes, but sometimes we have been beaten by opponents who were in the final.
‘Perhaps it would be better not to go out like this and make the Europa League, we would be more likely to win.’
The Arsenal boss also told L’Equipe that he thought his team’s performance was good but that they left themselves too much to do after a poor showing in London last month.
‘The performance was good, it was a difficult task,’ Wenger said. ‘They surprised us in the first game because subconsciously we were too sure of ourselves.
‘In the second half, we lacked a bit of freshness. I am very disappointed to be knocked out, of course, but I will remember a lot of positives from this game.’
Wenger made it clear he was unhappy with the performance of referee Svein Oddvar Moen during a first half where Arsenal could have won a penalty when Alexis Sanchez went down inside the area and the home side were allowed to commit multiple fouls with no bookings handed out.
‘I think his (Moen’s) first half was very poor,’ Wenger said. ‘I just told him at half-time that I was not happy with some decisions.’
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