Senior trio play up positives despite Euro exit

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Thomas Vermaelen says a lack of luck has again played its part in Arsenal’s latest Champions League exit although the Belgian believes the Gunners can take heart from last night’s battling 1-1 draw against reigning champions Bayern Munich.

Arsene Wenger’s side worked tirelessly to overcome a two goal first-leg deficit at the Allianz Arena last night only for Bastian Schweinsteiger’s 54th minute strike to extinguish any realistic hope of an unlikely comeback.

Reflecting on a night when the Gunners at least found an equaliser and forced the hosts onto the back foot, the club captain told UEFA.com:

“You need a lot of luck in this competition. I thought we played well in the first leg. We put them under pressure for the first 15 minutes but we missed a penalty and got the red card as well. We know it’s not easy in the Champions League. I feel we can compete, but obviously this is the top level.

“It’s difficult to say exactly what the problem is. We’ve not had the best of luck in the draws after the first round and, as I said, you need a bit of luck in this tournament. We’re still in the title race and the semi-finals of the FA Cup, though, so there’s still a lot to play for.”

Vermaelen’s two vice-captains, Per Mertesacker and Mikel Arteta, also spoke of the positives that can be taken from staying unbeaten on a second successive trip to Munich.

“I think we played well in the two away ties against Bayern over the last two years but it’s obvious that over the four games it wasn’t enough to go through,” said the German defender.

“We have to look at what went wrong. We tried everything, especially in the last ten minutes. We tried to track them all over the pitch. We got the ball in some good positions but didn’t manage to score. We had to score twice, so we were two goals away from the quarter-finals and that’s a lot. Overall they deserved to win, especially after the first game.

“We want to finish the season strongly now and achieve something. We have to get the Champions League out of our system and take the positives into our next game.”

Arteta added: “We knew that nothing is impossible. I think we saw that much in London. We had to try and you never know in football. When they scored we kept on believing. We equalised through Lukas [Podolski] and there were some situations where we could have made better decisions or made the final pass. Then it would have been game on. But we’re talking about the best team in Europe here.

“Every team that has been here recently has been battered five or six-nil, so I think it’s encouraging. I think we were very good in the second half. We can take a lot of courage from that. We kept them pretty quiet as well.”

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