Arsenal captain Mikel Arteta claims that they have ‘thrown everything away’ after succumbing to a 3-3 draw against Anderlecht despite being 3-0 up.
Arteta slammed his team-mates for the lack-luster performance and remarked that such performances are not good enough for the club.
“I don’t know [how it got away from us]. We can’t afford to make those mistakes, it’s just not good enough. We had a 3-0 lead at home and we know what we’re playing for. We’ll analyse the mistakes and see what happened in the second half. It’s not up to the level of this club.”
“The main aim when you start the competition is to win the group but we have thrown everything away tonight. You can’t do that in this competition.”
Borussia Dortmund look set to top the group and Arsenal will now have to contend themselves with the second spot.
Meanwhile former Arsenal player Paul Merson criticized Arsene Wenger for not closing the game and compared him to arch-rival Jose Mourinho, hinting that the Frenchman could indeed take a leaf out of Mourinho’s book.
“I think they’re tactically clueless. How you can be 3-0 up and attacking. This is not the first time, this happens a lot of times. It is absolutely clueless.”
“For me the manager’s got to get a message on. If you know football you say: ‘Right, let’s stop here. Let’s have two banks of four, let’s leave two up front and we’ll go from there. Let them break us down’.”
“I bet you Jose Mourinho hasn’t drawn too many games from being 3-0 up. That tells you everything.”
Meanwhile manager Arsene Wenger remarked that Arsenal subconsciously underestimated Anderlecht and hence got punished, before blaming fatigue to be responsible for a dismal performance.
“At 3-0, we thought the job was done. It was fatigue, as well. They finished stronger and sharper. We got punished. Maybe, we subconsciously underestimated Anderlecht and we got punished. In the Champions League you need to be at the right mental level or you get punished. Certainly, we were not. Subconsciously, you can think the game is won.”
“We dropped off too much and we didn’t go into the challenges any more. Then, you are always open. We didn’t stop the crosses, the long balls. In the second half, it was bad defending more than being out-numbered. We gave a poor defensive performance from the first to the last. We never felt comfortable. There was a bit of bad luck because the first [Anderlecht] goal was offside but our defensive performance was not good enough. Across the pitch defensively, we were very, very poor.”
Arsene Wenger will be ruing his missed chances if he draws up another European giant in the Round of 16, having exited the tournament in the same stage in the last 4 seasons.