Premier League • England

Thierry Henry points finger at Arsenal duo after Champions League exit as Arteta offers ‘beautiful’ guarantee

Thierry Henry has reflected with disappointment at Arsenal's Champions League exit to Bayern Munich

Thierry Henry has reflected with disappointment at Arsenal's Champions League exit to Bayern Munich

Arsenal legend Thierry Henry admits the Gunners did not do enough over two legs to progress past Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-finals and claims two players will have major regrets for their part in the Bundesliga giants’ winner in Wednesday’s second leg.

The Gunners went to Germany needing at least a draw to take the game to penalties following a 2-2 draw at Emirates Stadium in the first leg last week, but in a tight game, succumbed to Joshua Kimmich’s 63rd-minute header with Arsenal then were unable to score for a second match in a row following Sunday’s blank at home to Aston Villa.

The result means it is Bayern Munich who will go on to a semi-final date with Real Madrid – winners in a penalty shootout over Manchester City – as England suffered yet another blow in the UEFA’s coefficients table that will determine which countries are offered an extra UCL place. And with the Premier League missing a golden chance to claim more points, the additional slots are set to go to both Italy and Germany.

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That will matter little to Arsenal, who look a sure-fire bet to return to the Champions League themselves again next season, but must now rouse themselves for Saturday evening’s tricky-looking Premier League clash against Wolves at Molineux.

A win can take Arsenal back to the top of the table with Manchester City in FA Cup action against Chelsea on the Sunday.

In the meantime, they are left to dwell on the crushing disappointment of their UCL elimination and what was surely a great chance to miss the last four for the first time since 2009.

Thierry Henry blames Arsenal duo after Bayern defeat

Reflecting on their exit, Henry felt two players could have done more to prevent Bayern’s winner.

And having been asked what Arsenal were missing, the Gunners icon told CBS Sports: “Putting the ball in the back of the net but today there wasn’t even a lot of chances to do that.

“I think the two goals [in the first leg] at home were soft. We all know if you make those mistakes in the Champions League you’re going to pay the price.

“Today wasn’t good enough I would say but there wasn’t much in the game. Both teams didn’t want to lose so they didn’t really go for it.”

On Bayern’s winner, he added: “There was a moment of bad decision, not only from [Gabriel] Martinelli but [Takehiro] Tomiyasu also, because he did not cover his centre-back for the cross or close that line.”

On his prediction that Arsenal could have won the Champions League this season, the French legend admits the Gunners squad were not equipped to come through three tough games in a week.

“But you’ve asked me so many times, do I think Arsenal can win the Champions League? I say yes because I’m hoping and wishing,” he added.

“But if I take my Arsenal hat off, when we play three games a week, we struggle. I don’t think we’re equipped to play three games a week so maybe it can be a good thing for the Premier League.”

Arteta in ‘beautiful’ Premier League guarantee after UCL exit

Arteta, meanwhile, admits the Arsenal dressing room was extremely downbeat after their elimination but he is adamant his side can bounce back in the Premier League title race – starting with Saturday’s match at Molineux.

“What we have ahead is beautiful,” Arteta said. “Six games to go and we are two points behind City.

“It is a busy schedule for everybody. We have to go through the pain tonight, and tomorrow get up, come with the same attitude that we came here and hopefully beat Wolves.”

“It’s easy to get behind the players when we win 10 in a row. The moment is now to be behind them and be next to them.”

Speaking about their elimination, Arteta said: “Very sad and disappointed with the final result.

“It was a tie of very small margins. In the first leg we conceded two poor goals. Today we came here and I’m really proud of the players, especially in the first half.

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“It was a game where you can see an error or individual brilliance would make the difference. We didn’t defend our box well enough.

“Credit to the opponent as well. It’s hard to break the opponents down when they play in the manner that they did.

“We struggled to keep that momentum in the second half. They’re never games with big, big chances. Very rare. It’s the moment to be next to our players [now].”

After Wolves, Arsenal face Chelsea at home on Tuesday, before the north London derby with Tottenham on Sunday week; their season then concludes with games against Bournemouth (home), Man Utd (away) and Everton (home); they will likely need a maximum haul if they are to have any chance of beating Man City and Liverpool to the title.