Arsene Wenger admitted Arsenal were “complacent” and “not focused” after they fell two goals behind in the first half of their Europa League meeting with Ostersunds on Thursday night.
Sead Kolasinac’s goal halved the deficit shortly after half-time, with Arsenal progressing to the last-16 by a 4-2 aggregate scoreline thanks to their 3-0 win in the first leg two weeks ago, but Wenger admits they were in trouble before the break.
“We were not at the races in the first half,” he said in his post-match press conference. “We were in trouble because we were complacent and not focused. We were open every time we lost the ball and had no ideas with the ball. That’s why we were in trouble.
“In the second half, it was much better. Our energy was high and our domination as consistent. Overall we responded very well. We did the job to qualify. That’s what you have to keep from the night and that’s it.”
Wenger, who dismissed injury fears surrounding Jack Wilshere following his late withdrawal, admitted his players appeared to go into the game thinking the tie was already won.
“We prepared properly, in a serious way, but you have external circumstances,” he said. “The fact that we won the first leg 3-0, the fact that we have another big game on Sunday, the fact that people subconsciously think they just have to turn up to win the game.
Arsenal vs Man City
February 25, 2018, 3:30pm
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“Football doesn’t work like that. We played against a good side and it’s what you see in the FA Cup. You can be in trouble every time you’re not 100 per cent focused.
“I felt in the first half the whole team was not at the level you expect. It was not easy for the defenders because we lost the ball too early and we didn’t’ screen well when we lost the ball.”
Arsenal will learn who their last 16 opponents are in Friday afternoon’s Europa League draw.