Arsene Wenger has suggested Arsenal would have been better off finishing third in their Champions League group as they would have had a better chance of winning the Europa League.
The Gunners crashed out in the first knockout phase for the fifth consecutive season last night despite a 2-0 win in Monaco. Their 3-1 first-leg defeat at the Emirates saw Arsenal crash out on the away goals rule to the Ligue 1 outfit.
It brought an end to Arsenal's 17th consecutive campaign in Europe's top tier competition and left many fans questioning why they strive to qualify when they never challenge for the trophy. It seems Wenger is inclined to agree with them.
"Perhaps it would be better not to go out like this and make the Europa League, we would be more likely to win"
Better off without it
When asked whether he was unhappy with another familiar failing, Wenger said: "Yes, but sometimes we have been beaten by opponents who were in the final.
"Perhaps it would be better not to go out like this and make the Europa League, we would be more likely to win."
Arsenal came so close to a miraculous comeback, scoring two of the three goals they needed to reverse their first-leg disaster. It showed the superiority that Arsenal have over Monaco and raised further questions as to how they allowed three goals past them last month.
"They surprised us in the first game, because subconsciously we were too sure of ourselves"
Wenger said Arsenal were too sure of themselves in the first leg, but despite crashing out, will take plenty of positives from this glorious failure.
"The performance was good, it was a difficult task," Wenger said. "They surprised us in the first game, because subconsciously we were too sure of ourselves.
"In the second half, we lacked a bit of freshness. I am very disappointed to be knocked out, of course, but I will remember a lot of positives from this game."
Arsenal fans would not be too happy to be paying the prices they currently are for Europa League football. However, as Chelsea proved in 2013, winning the second-tier trophy does not need to be seen as a consolation prize.
While Arsenal are a level below Bayern Munich, Barcelona and Real Madrid, they would have entered the Europa League as favourites had they finished third in their group. The biggest difference is the money Arsenal receive for competing in the Champions League, which has been crucial to keeping them competitive during an era of financial restriction.
Would Arsenal fans like to see how their team would get on in the Europa League, or is another long-shot attempt at winning the Champions League more exciting? Give us your thoughts in the comments box below!
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