Arsene Wenger criticised his “guilty” Arsenal team for repeating past mistakes in their 2-0 home Champions League defeat to Barcelona.
The impressive Lionel Messi finished a fine counter-attack started by Neymar and Luis Suarez to give Barcelona the lead in the 71st minute before, in the 83rd, winning and scoring the penalty that leaves Arsenal on the brink of elimination.
A combination of wasted goalscoring chances and defensive lapses felt familiar to those which ended Arsenal’s Champions League campaign at the same stage last season against Monaco, when – despite moments of promise – Wenger’s team again struggled, and the Frenchman revealed his disappointment that they again performed similarly.
“It’s a bit disappointing to give them the goals that we did, especially the first goal,” Wenger said.
“I feel that we were extremely guilty and have no excuses for that goal.
“They are better than us, everybody knows that, but we could’ve won the game 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.
“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.
“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.
“We had an unbelievable chance in the first half. The way we finished our chances is a problem because I felt that we missed something in the final third.”
The potential bonus of their likely Champions League exit is that Wenger can focus Arsenal’s resources on pursuing both the Premier League title and retaining the FA Cup.
But asked if he would be tempted to play a weakened team in their second league with Barca, the manager responded: “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.
“Our failure is that the chance was there to beat them, that is the biggest regret I have. Sometimes you can lose against a team and you can do nothing about it, but there was room to beat them.”