“Sometimes it’s harder playing against 10.”
That’s not really true is it?
OK we’ve seen examples a team being reduced to 10 later on in the second half and it inspiring a backs-to-the-wall defensive display, granted.
But on the whole, if the opposition gets a man sent off early, any team with quality should make the extra man into an advantage.
However, in true Arsene Wenger fashion (we all know he hasn’t changed) the great Arsenal boss denied that his team had any advantage when Atletico Madrid’s Šime Vrsaljko was given his marching orders in the 10th minute.
When Arsenal drew Atletico in the Europa League semi-final I’m sure their fans would have bitten your hand off if you told them Diego Simeon’s side would be a man down after 10 minutes of the first leg.
But no, not Wenger.
“The result is not in line with the performance,” Wenger explained.
“Once they went down to 10 men it destroyed a bit the flow of the game and it was not to our advantage.
“You come out with a bitter taste because we had the chances to be in the final tonight.”
Not only were Atletico a man down on the pitch they were also manager-less after Simeone was sent to the stands just after the biggest decision of the game.
However many Arsenal fans will recognise Wenger living in an alternate universe with these quotes and it is confirmation why they wanted him out for so long.
Arsenal did dominate the game following the sending off, they had 76% possession and 28 shots but only managed to score once.
The bitter taste Wenger mentions will be when he saw his defence go AWOL as Antoine Griezmann scored a crucial away goal for the Spaniards.
Yes, Atleti are probably one of the best drilled sides in the world and take resolute defending to be an art unlike any other team.
But for Arsenal’s attack only to be able to score once from 28 shots with Mesut Ozil, Alexandre Lacazette and Danny Welbeck on the pitch shows their failings.
If this was a one-off occasion it might be different, but remember Wenger defending himself after losing to United at the Emirates when they had 33 shots?
Even when it became clear the Gunners were struggling to break down the defence, Wenger didn’t make a single substitution to change things – another area that has frustrated Gooners for years.
Admittedly the options on the bench were hardly very appetising, would Edward Nketiah or Alex Iwobi been able to do anything against the red and white wall?
But isn’t it down to the manager to build a squad that has game-changers throughout and that can compete at the business end of the season? All the other top six teams could have turned to their bench for a new threat.
If you ever wanted to see Wenger’s decline over the past eight years in a microcosm this game was it.