Arsène Wenger, the Arsenal manager, has claimed that Barcelona were “more beatable than ever before” in a response to suggestions that Europe’s elite have left his side behind.
The north Londoners suffered a 5-1 aggregate loss to the Spanish side after a 3-1 second leg defeat in the Nou Camp on Wednesday. Yet Wenger, who saw his side knocked out of the FA Cup and Champions League in the space of four days this week, was full of frustration at how Arsenal did not progress in the latter competition despite being totally outplayed in both legs.
“The regret I have about the two games against Barcelona maybe they were more beatable than ever before,” he said when asked if Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid are now uncatchable.
“When we played against them, they are not so much out of reach. I believe that with more income in England the best players will slowly all come to England and that will be the answer. Barça and Real have already dropped off.
“For years, we in England were always in the last [stages], sometimes you played an English team in the quarter-final and the semi-final of the Champions League. I believe we’ll come back again. Does the schedule in England help or not? I would say overall no. But it’s not an excuse because we dealt with it before.”
The latest comments from the 66-year-old Frenchman will give further ammunition to his detractors who fear he is out of touch with reality.Arsenal are 11 points behind top of the table Leicester as they travel to Everton today but Wenger did admit a worry that his side might not qualify for next year’s Champions League.
They are just three points above fifth-placed West Ham to raise the prospect of missing out on the top four for the first time in Wenger’s 20-year reign. He added: “We want to move forward, but I’m conscious that our position is not secure.”