Arsenal defender Per Mertesacker has admitted that his side deserved to go out in the Champions League last-16 against Monaco and also suggested that the club was far away from winning the competition.
Arsene Wenger boasts a record only matched by Real Madrid in that he has qualified for Europe’s premier club competition for 17 consecutive seasons, but La Liga’s giants stand apart from the Frenchman in one crucial regard – he has never won the competition.
After years of financial restraints, Wenger has spent £100m over the past eight months and the aim must be higher than constant last-16 exits.
“When you get knocked out, you are far away,” Mertesacker said when asked how far Arsenal were from winning the trophy with the big ears (via the Guardian).
“Monaco were very underestimated but they deserved it by playing well in the first leg. We had one bad game and that was enough to get knocked out. We were missing some good fortune in the second leg but we didn’t deserve it because we played so poorly in the first leg.
“It’s difficult to look back after such a performance in the second leg and think we missed in the first game that mental level you need to compete at the highest level. That was missing. We need to consider that every single day in training and in games. That’s why we are so far away.”
Mertesacker’s honest assessment is admirable, but it would be more ideal if he were to show this kind of leadership on the pitch and dictate to his team-mates, given that he is a World Cup winner.