Arsene Wenger has lashed out at his Arsenal side's second half performance against Barcelona in the Champions League last night, describing their efforts as 'very average'.
The Gunners had been able to contain the reigning European champions at the Emirates Stadium until the 71st minute, when Lionel Messi tucked home a swift counter-attack.
Luis Enrique's side took further command of the tie when Messi tucked home a penalty that Arsenal midfielder Mathieu Flamini had given away less than a minute after coming on as a substitute.
Arsenal now face an uphill battle to make it through to the quarter-finals of the Champions League for the first time since 2010, with the second leg to come at the Nou Camp in March.
A usually placid Wenger laid into his side for their second-half performance, branding his team 'average' and admitting that progress to the next round of the competition is all but impossible.
"We were very average," he said.
The Frenchman continued: "We were naive and that’s what was frustrating. It makes it [qualifying] very sticky, if not impossible. We have to go there and fight. They were better than us. There’s no shame to say that.
“It will be very difficult but we have to try and do our best. It’s 95 percent for them and five per cent for us. But you never know.”
With the Champions League seemingly out of reach, Arsenal's sole focus will now be winning their first Premier League title since 2004.
They're also still in the FA Cup and face a replay against Hull, but for now, midfielder Aaron Ramsey admits it will be hard to shake the disappointment of another European failure for the north London club.
“You have to give them credit they average a goal a game. But chances like the one we had, you need to take them,” the Welshman conceded.
Defender Per Mertesacker added: “We did not deserve anything from the game. We had enough chances to score one.
“We have to concentrate on the Premier League now as it is nearly a month before the second leg. But we will go there with the same courage. We will not give up.”
The games continue to come thick and fast for the Gunners, and next up this weekend is a key Premier League clash against Manchester United at Old Trafford.
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