The Champions League exit at the hands of Barcelona was punctuated by touches of class. For Barcelona these came on the pitch courtesy of Lionel Messi, but unfortunately for the Gunners, theirs came in the post-match interviews.
Arsene Wenger, not known for being magnanimous in defeat, was the first to come out and applaud the victors. His reputation as a sore loser stems from the fact that he is an idealist, constantly seeking footballing perfection. As such he cannot stand it when his side succumbs to physicality or poor refereeing decisions, but on Tuesday night he recognised that Arsenal were outplayed and that the better team won: “Congratulations to Barcelona – they were better than us.” Similarly effusive in his praise was the self-promotion machine that is Nicklas Bendtner, whose early strike proved to be a false dawn for the Gunners on a night where they were taught a footballing lesson. For all of the praise heaped on Messi – including Wenger’s much quoted comment that he is “the best player in the world, and by a distance” – the result came courtesy of a team performance. Certainly Messi was the difference in terms of creativity, but at 3-1 any slim hopes of pulling two goals back to progress on away goals were crushed by Bar