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Arsene Wenger has defended Arsenal's Champions League record.

Arsene Wenger defends Arsenal's Champions League record

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Arsene Wenger has defended Arsenal's Champions League record - despite the fact defeat in Barcelona on Wednesday night means they have failed to get past the round of 16 stage for the last six years.

The Gunners went into the game at the Nou Camp already staring down the barrel having been beaten 2-0 at the Emirates Stadium in February's first leg.

And, despite a gutsy performance against the reigning European champions, goals from Neymar, Lionel Messi and a stunning Luis Suarez volley saw Barcelona comfortably into the last eight with a 3-1 victory.

Mohamed Elneny's first goal for Arsenal was consigned to the status of a consolation strike as Wenger once fell at this early juncture.

But, having lost to Monaco, Bayern Munich twice, AC Milan and Barca again back in 2011, the Frenchman was quick to speak out about Arsenal's perceived short-comings.

"I could give you all the stats if you are dramatic enough to read the stats," he said.

"They showed that we suffered but that should not be considered game by game. In football, you look the last game and you look at the positives.

"We have gone out in the last six years to top sides who won the Champions League after. On one occasion we lost to Monaco but the others are always against Bayern Munich or Barcelona."

Arsenal came here in bad form, having slipped from top of the Barclays Premier League to 11 points adrift of current leaders Leicester and missing the chance to seal three successive FA Cups following Sunday's quarter-final elimination at the hands of Watford.

But they performed admirably, albeit against a Barcelona side which often seemed to be going through the motions, and only some wasteful possession in the final third prevented them making this a contest.

Fittingly, it fell to Suarez, Neymar and Messi to do the damage - with the trio taking their combined goal tally to 106 for the season as they all got on the scoresheet.

Messi is a regular nemesis of the Gunners, and has now scored nine Champions League goals against them, but it was Suarez's strike to make it 2-1 on the night which will be remembered as the former Liverpool man thrashed home an unstoppable, acrobatic volley.

Wenger may have been pleased with his own side's efforts - but he enthused about Barcelona's attacking triumvirate.

"It was a team performance and the quality was good," he said of Arsenal's display.

"I'm disappointed with the result but we played against a team with the best strikers I have seen play together. It is exceptional, they can make chances from nothing.

"We could not take our chances to [find] a second goal that would put us in a strong position tonight but after they scored and it was 2-1, our belief was less than when it was 1-1. We had chances and Barcelona are an exceptional side.

"Barcelona, going forward in the final third with the quality of passing and creativity, Messi was absolutely exceptional.

"He went for 90 minutes and came out of the game without missing a first touch, no matter where the ball came from. Barcelona have two or three players who can transform normal life into art."

Barca coach Luis Enrique must be running out of superlatives for the main men in his side - but he praised them once again here - and suggested he fears no-one in Friday's quarter-final draw.

"Suarez, Messi and Neymar feed off each other," he said.

"I am pleased they're our forwards. To be able to resolve games we have to have their initial pressure. They help us create pressure, and they get back to defend as well, which every team needs in any competition."

Asked about possible last-eight opponents, Enrique simply replied: "The only team I don't want to face is Barca, and it's a certainty that we won't."

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Topics:
Barcelona
Football
Arsenal

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