Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has admitted that his team struggled against CSKA Moscow and was in danger of conceding another goal that would have eliminated them on aggregate. He said that his players were surprised by the intensity of the game and that they struggled at times to cope with the energy and determination shown by the Russian player.
At times CSKA looked like one of the top Spanish teams like Barcelona and Real, with their passing somehow bypassing Arsenal’s midfield with relative ease. Arsene Wenger said that it was a difficult game for his players and that he is proud of how they have managed to come back into the game. He said that the second half was much easier for his players as they successfully raised their game to cope with the intensity of the CSKA Moscow players.
The French manager said that his players were warned beforehand by the Champions League results and knew that anything can happen in football – especially having seen thee fightbacks by Roma (currently 4th in Serie A) against Barca, and Juve’s near miss versus Real.
Arsenal skipper Laurent Koscielny said that they were not good enough on the day and that they were not ready for the battle. He believes that they have become a bit complacent following their easy win one week ago and that they gave the CSKA Moscow players too much time on the ball.
He said that the movement and passing were not good enough and that they did not create enough danger in the opposition half. He said that they will need to improve in the next round if they want to make it to the final. He said that he is happy that they could manage to come back into the game but it is not something that they should repeat in the next round of the competition.
The French defender said that the players want to win the Europa League as it is not only a prestigious trophy but also provide access to the Champions League. They may face the Spanish Champion’s League Finalists Atletico Madrid, the darlings of Dutch Football Ajax, or Maseille for a place in the Europa League Final in May in Lyon.