Arsène Wenger last night conceded that Arsenal have an "impossible" task staying in the Champions League after seeing his team outclassed and beaten 3-1 at home by Bayern Munich.
Arsenal now need a desperately unlikely result in the Allianz Arena on 13 March to avoid an eighth consecutive season without a trophy and Wenger said it would be easier to qualify for next season's Champions League by making up the four-point gap to fourth place in the Premier League than remaining in this season's competition.
"We have to try to make the impossible possible," said the Arsenal manger, who spent 25 minutes in the home dressing room immediately after the final whistle.
"We will have two battles, but maybe the easier battle will be to be back in the Champions League. But we have to give everything to try and change things in the second leg."
"Let's not hide the truth: it will be extremely difficult against a team of that quality. They didn't play two finals in the last three years without that quality. We have to give our best and hope we have built our confidence up a bit more, because that belief will be needed."
Wenger pointed to the fact that Bayern's players seemed to be far more confident than his own. "I think we had a good response today, the players gave absolutely everything," he said. "We played against a side who have no doubt at all. They have a history in the last six months were everything is positive, every player is confident to play with full power. That's not the same for us at the moment. But things can change quickly. Three weeks, we can do it."
Jack Wilshere, again Arsenal's best player, said that they still had a chance to progress. "There's always a chance [in the second leg], we take it to their place, and we need a few goals," Wilshere said. "We have the players to do it, we just have to start better."
Arsenal suffered from the problem that has afflicted them all season, starting slowly in big games. As with the recent Premier League defeats to Manchester City at home and Chelsea away, Arsenal were 2-0 down at half-time and Wilshere admitted this was a problem.
"We didn't start great and that's been a thing for us this season. In the second half we stepped it up and it's unfortunate we didn't do that in the first half. I'm not sure why, maybe it's a bit of nerves or anxiety because we show what we can do when we play, we will look at it and try to put it right."
Wilshere insisted that Wenger was still the right man to manage Arsenal. "It's nothing to do with the manager, he puts us on the pitch, it's down to us to perform," Wilshere said. "The players have to take responsibility, we're man enough to take it. The manager has been here for 16 years and he's done a great job so you can't question him."
The Bayern Munich coach, Jupp Heynckes, was understandably delighted with his team. "We scored three goals in an away game, I think that's quite good going," he said. "
Arsenal allowed us quite a few chances in their defence, but we showed a very good game. We are currently in astonishing form, and our quality is that we can punish even the smallest mistakes of an opponent."
"In the league, I think 23 games we've conceded seven goals. That's amazing. So it's very difficult to score against us. We do have great chances to progress to the next round."