Wenger lays into Arsenal players after defeat to Barcelona

By Arsenal correspondent Tony Hughes

Arsene Wenger laid into his players after their 2-0 Champions League defeat to Barcelona on Tuesday night.

He accused his team of being “technically average” and “naive” as they gave themselves an uphill battle to climb going into the second leg of the last-16 tie in three weeks.

Arsenal were solid for most of the match and had a foothold in the fixture before being caught out by a lightning-fast counter-attack that was finished off by Lionel Messi after 72 minutes.

The brilliant Argentine added a second from the penalty spot soon afterwards following a wild hack on him from Mathieu Flamini.

Wenger was in no mood to put a positive spin on a performance that left him disappointed.

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Speaking to BT Sport afterwards, the Arsenal manager said: “Barcelona is a great team. We put a lot of energy in the game and technically we were very average.

“The regret I had was once we looked like we dominate the game, we give the goal away. Similar to Monaco last season, naive, and that is frustrating. When we looked like we could win the game, we just gave it away.

Impact sub: Mathieu Flamini conceded a penalty 45 seconds after coming on

“We knew before the game we couldn’t give them counter-attacks and that’s what they did.”

Wenger admits that Arsenal have only a small chance of progressing into the quarter-finals of the competition.

“Realistically it is very,very difficult, if not impossible. We have to go there and fight. It’s 95 [per cent] for them and five for us. We have to give it a go.

“They are better than us, there’s no shame in saying that.”