Wenger: Away goals rule outdated


Published: Thursday 19th March 2015 by The News Editor

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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is suffering a European crisis with no teams in the quarter-finals of the Champions League, but has called for the “outdated” away goals rule to be changed.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(Chelsea and Arsenal) have gone out on away goals, which I think should be questioned because it is a rule that is outdated now and that has to be changed, and I have fought for that for a long time.”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 analyse 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.

Published: Thursday 19th March 2015 by The News Editor

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