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Wenger says away goals rule outdated in European matches


Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger does not believe English football is suffering a European crisis with no teams in the quarter-finals of the Champions League, but has called for the "outdated" away goals rule to be changed.

Manchester City followed the Gunners and Chelsea out of the elite club competition when beaten by Barcelona on Wednesday night.

It is the second time in three seasons there will be no English team through to the Champions League quarter-finals, when there had been finalists in seven of the eight years from 2005.

Wenger – whose side reached the 2006 final, but have not been past the last 16 for five campaigns in a row after their defeat to Monaco – sees no reason to hold an inquest.

However, the Arsenal manager is certain the advantage given to away-goals weighting in the knock-out stages needs addressing – a rule which accounted for both Chelsea and his own team, who conceded a fatal third in stoppage time as they lost the first leg 3-1 at the Emirates Stadium before winning 2-0 in Monaco.

"I don't think that you can draw a general conclusion (about the state of English football in Europe)," said Wenger.

"In a direct knockout, it is important that you are very efficient and a bit lucky as well.

"None of the teams, apart from Barcelona, look to be superior in Europe today.

"Two teams (Chelsea and Arsenal) have gone out on away goals, which I think should be questioned because it is a rule that is outdated now and that has to be changed, and I have fought for that for a long time."

Wenger continued: "It should count maybe after extra-time because this rule has been created in the 1960s to encourage the teams to attack away from home.

"But since that football has changed. The weight of the away goal is too big today.

"I still think maybe you can count (away goals) after extra-time, like in the League Cup in England."

Despite their shortcomings in Europe, Chelsea, Manchester City and Arsenal are leading the way in the Premier League, while Liverpool and Manchester United are also set to make it a competitive race to secure a top-four finish.

Wenger added: "I think that the quality of the Premier League is very high and that the physical demands are extreme.

"But I am not in the mood today to analyze too much what was wrong for English football. I don't think there is a lot wrong, we just have to now focus on our next targets."

Wenger had been quoted by French media as saying Arsenal would have a 'better chance of winning' if they had dropped into the Europa League.

The Arsenal manager, though, moved to clarify those comments, made in French at Wednesday night's post-match press conference in Monaco.

He said: "It is better that we are in the Champions League. It is as simple as that. It was just a little joke I made in French.

"To stay in Europe, you want to be in the Champions league and nowhere else.

"It was not mistranslated. I said it as a joke, what is the best way to go stay longer, well maybe if we had gone out in the group stage (of the Champions League), we would still be in the Europa League.

"You cannot say anything any more, in any press conference without a controversial situation. That is why no one says anything anymore in fact."

Arsenal head to Newcastle on Saturday, when they will look to keep up the pressure on second-placed Manchester City, whom they now trail by just a point following a run of eight wins from the last nine league matches.

Midfielder Tomas Rosicky could return from illness, but otherwise Wenger reported no fresh injury problems.


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  1. gargoyle

    March 19, 2015 at 7:49 pm

    As a Gooner I find him embarrassing. He was handed an eminently winnable draw and great chance at final 8 and choked it away. Stop whining AW.

  2. EDub

    March 19, 2015 at 10:01 am

    As a Gooner, I must say that everything that has come out of Wenger’s mouth since the game is nonsense.

    (1) said we were better over the 2 legs – no way, we were worse in game 1 than Monaco in the game 2.
    (2) talking away goals – well, if we performed better in the home game (and it isn’t as if we don’t have RECENT HISTORY TO PROVE IT), then we wouldn’t need a dramatic ‘brave’ performance in the second.

    Wenger, many of us love you, but just admit when you’re wrong.

  3. Ivan

    March 19, 2015 at 9:23 am

    What a hypocrite! He would have kept his mouth shut if the roles were reversed and his team was on the winning end of the equation.

    I like the away goals rule! It makes teams take more risks away from home, as opposed to parking the bus.

    It surely made for very entertaining Arsenal-Monaco games, both of them.

    Now, Wenger can go back and focus on winning the Premier League title, and by that, I mean, finishing in fourth place. We all know that finishing 4th is just like winning the title for Mr. Wenger…specialist in failure much?

    • jtm371

      March 19, 2015 at 9:31 am

      Spot on Ivan can not add anything great post.

    • brn442

      March 19, 2015 at 11:35 am

      The only thing that should be changed is the “away” goal in extra time of a second leg, as there is obviously no extra time in the first leg.

      Ivan is spot on, the away goal does exactly what it was meant to do – avoid 0-0 draws. Arsenal should refund their supporters for that amateur 1st leg, first half.

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