A frustrating evening on Tuesday saw Arsenal realise they almost had enough to take on Barcelona, but not quite.
We matched the Spanish and European champions for 70 minutes before leaving ourselves exposed and being punished by some of the finest players on the planet.
The opportunities to take the lead for ourselves had been made, but weren’t taken. So what now for our European hopes? Winning by two away from home seems impossible against Barça.
“You could sense from Arsene Wenger’s interview that he felt Arsenal had wasted an opportunity last night,” said former Arsenal defender Nigel Winterburn. “It’s easy to analyse after a game and say ‘if we’d had a 20-goal-a-season striker, would he have taken those chances’, [but] we just don’t know that.”
We certainly don’t. Luis Suárez and Neymar both score more than 20 a season (so far Suárez has 41 and Neymar 23, it isn’t even March) but missed chances before Lionel Messi’s opener – having top players doesn’t guarantee you goals.
However, there’s never any harm in winning more games and clearly better players help you do that.
“They’ve come up short again in the last-16 so that says to Wenger he’s going to have to look at that at the end of the season.
“If they are going to move on from where they are and really be considered as one of the favourites for the competition, they are going to have to improve the squad again and I think Wenger knows that.”
The Arsenal manager has a reputation for resisting transfers, but has spent big in each of the last few years. Mesut Özil, Alexis Sánchez and Petr Čech are star quality and all capable of playing for any club.
Will Wenger be tempted to add more star quality this summer, and would that be enough to push Arsenal to the level of Barcelona and Bayern Munich? It seems doubtful, but we’ll have to wait and see.