Per Mertesacker has blamed the front line for our 2-0 loss against Barcelona, believing our inability to take our chances was the reason we lost, as reported by Goal.
After a solid first half, Mertesacker’s performance was shocking against Barcelona this past Tuesday night. The German was caught way out of position for the first goal, and his poor pass to Mathieu Flamini in the box resulted in Barca netting their second from the spot.
Our captain on the night was very vocal about the cause of our defeat after the game though, and has shifted the blame onto our attackers.
“You have to score at one stage against Barcelona to keep the pressure up on them,” said Mertesacker.
“They had a lot of possession but we defended well and we had to score at one point – that was the key to why we lost in the end.
“It was obviously a disappointing ending. I think we defended so well over 70 minutes and then we got punished twice. We tried so hard to cover each other [for Messi’s first goal] but someone was always a little bit late on that counter-attack. ”
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“It was a bit naive but when you keep going for such a long time and keep up with a good team, you have to score. That [the opening goal] was a disappointing moment for everyone and we couldn’t get over it.
“We need to play better on the break and when we have the ball. We could have created more chances and shared the ball better in the final third. Obviously, we need to score. Then, we could have put pressure on them and they would have to come at us.”
He’s very clearly highlighting the quality of our defence over the course of 90 minutes, while pinpointing our inability to convert our chances. Completely ignoring his own mistakes, and instead passing the buck to his teammates.
Mertesacker pushed well beyond the half way line for Barcelona’s first goal, yet failed to apply any type of pressure on the opposition. They were able to turn and pass around him easily, and suddenly our defence was all over the place against arguably the best attacking trio in football right now. He wasn’t the only player to make a mistake during Barcelona’s counter, but his was certainly the biggest.
Mathieu Flamini was obviously at fault for the second goal, with the Frenchman hacking down Lionel Messi in the box. He was only forced to make that challenge due to Mertesacker’s ludicrous decision to pass the ball in our own box instead of clearing it, with the captain on the day looking to give Flamini his first touch of the game a few yards from goal under pressure from Messi.
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Obviously we had a number of chances to take the lead before we went behind, but that still doesn’t destract from Mertesacker’s poor performance.
Mertesacker splits opinion among Arsenal fans, with many believing he’s just not good enough. The general consensus is that he needs to be moved on, but Arsene Wenger has so far stuck by him.