Jack Wilshere insisted that the players were to blame rather than Arsène Wenger after Arsenal’s Champions League campaign, and any hope of a trophy for another year, appeared to end with a 3-1 home defeat to Bayern Munich.
Arsenal will need to win well in the Allianz Arena to reach the quarter-finals and are 21 points off the lead in the Premier League. They were knocked out of the Capital One Cup and FA Cup by Bradford City and Blackburn Rovers respectively.
But Wilshere said the players should be blamed for the defeat, not Wenger. “It’s nothing to do with the manager, he puts us on the pitch, it’s down to us to perform,” Wilshere said afterwards.
“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 21-year-old midfielder, again Arsenal’s best player, said 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 damaging problem.
“We didn’t start great and that’s been a thing for us this season,” he said. “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.”