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Defiant Wenger insists Arsenal are in ‘great shape’

Boss responds to critics after another crushing defeat to Bayern Munich sends Gunners out of the Champions League

08 March, 2017 — By Tom Foot

Champions League, Round of 16, 2nd leg
ARSENAL 1, BAYERN MUNICH 5
(Agg: 2-10)

UNDER-FIRE Arsene Wenger has appealed to Gunners fans to look at the bigger picture after watching his side crash out of Europe 10-2 on aggregate.

The Arsenal boss insisted the club was in “great shape” and that a battling first-half display showed the it could compete at the top level.

He said: “This club is in great shape, but we are going through a difficult moment. We showed in the first half we can compete with Bayern.”

Wenger criticised the “irresponsible” referee for sending off Laurent Koscielny while awarding an “offside” penalty at a crucial stage in the game.

He said: “It is irresponsible from the referee. It is the reason for tonight’s result. It leaves me angry and frustrated. It is unexplainable and scandalous. I have to take it on the chin, I take a lot of criticism. We will deal with it. The end result does not reflect the quality.”

The fireworks had started before the match with a protest by around 100 fans outside the stadium.

After a stuttering first 10 minutes, Arsenal began to boss the game with an energetic, battling performance that was missing in the limp defeat to Liverpool on Saturday.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain made strong runs from midfield while Alexis Sanchez darted about lacing in some killer balls for the lively Theo Walcott.

Walcott blasted through Manuel Neuer on 19 minutes – but a red card for Koscielny, combined with a penalty converted by Robert Lewandowski on 54 minutes, ended all hopes of a historic fightback.

Instead, Arsenal capitulated while chasing the game.

Douglas Costa, Arjen Robben and Arturo Vidal (2) twisted the knife in a forlorn final final third.

With the stadium a quarter full with 10 minutes to go, the biggest cheer came when a little boy ran on the pitch and evaded two stewards in comedy style.

Despite a hint of injustice, it was a chastening result for even the most optimistic Arsenal fan to comprehend.

ARSENAL: Ospina, Bellerin, Koscielny, Mustafi, Monreal, Xhaka, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ramsey (Coquelin, 71), Walcott, Sanchez (Perez, 71), Giroud (Ozil, 71).
Subs not used: Cech, Gibbs, Gabriel, Welbeck.
Tickets sold: 59,911.

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