Arsene Wenger revealed his overwhelming sadness after witnessing his final chance to secure a European trophy as Arsenal boss disappear at the hands of Atletico Madrid.
Arsene Wenger revealed his overwhelming sadness after witnessing his final chance to secure a European trophy as Arsenal boss disappear at the hands of Atletico Madrid, after the Gunners went down 1-0 (2-1 agg) on Thursday evening.
Diego Costa's first-half stoppage time strike proved enough to overcome the north Londoners, who offered very little in the attacking third; recording only one shot on target throughout the 90 minutes.
And the Frenchman, who will now bring a close to his 22-year reign at the club at Huddersfield Sunday week without the chance to secure Champions League football for next season, laid bare his distress at missing out on the perfect send-off to The Guardian post-match.
“I am like the team – very sad and very disappointed,” Wenger said. “I am even very frustrated, as well, because when you go out of a competition, and you had the performances over the 180 minutes that we had, it is very difficult to take. For the club, there is now some time to think about what to do for next season.
“I think there are some good ingredients in our team and they will bounce back. These players have quality and, with the right additions in the summer, the team will compete next year.
“I have no plans at the moment. I have to recover first from a huge disappointment. I’m very, very sad to leave the club with that exit. I will take some time to recover from this. The game can be very cruel; sometimes it is very nice. But the suffering is very strong tonight.”
Arsenal's task was made more difficult in the opening exchanges as captain, Laurent Koscielny, was stretchered off with a ruptured Achilles tendon; casting huge doubt over the defender's availability for this summer's World Cup.
“It doesn’t look very good,” Wenger stated. “You can always hope for a miracle on the scan, but the first signs don’t look very good.”
The Arsenal boss' regrets lay in the first leg, where an Atletico Madrid side, reduced to 10 men, were able to secure an all-important away goal to take an advantage into the Estadio Wanda Metropolitano showdown.
“The tie should be over in the first game,” the Frenchman added. “We were 1-0 up at home, and we conceded a stupid goal. Then, tonight, we conceded on the counter with one minute to go before half-time. Those are vital moments in a game of this stature.
“Atlético played with a bit of fear in the first half, but at 1-0 they had a bit of a cushion. Costa’s goal was vital. That’s why he is one of the best strikers in the world. We missed something in the final third. In the first half tonight, we had plenty of opportunities, but we missed something always in the final ball. Even in the second half, too.”