Arsenal were defeated 2-0 at Wolfsburg on Thursday night and are out of the Champions League 3-1 on aggregate.
This was a fair result as the Gunners did not play well enough over two legs to go through.
They certainly gave it all in both games, but the quality was not there.
Kim Little mentioned it in her post match press conference: “I think Wolfsburg were strong in the press.
“We gave away too much, especially in attack.
“It was a tough match, but I think we can take a lot from it in terms of what we can improve.”
In these elite games, if you don’t bring the whole package – energy, intensity, quality and efficiency – you end up being short as only top teams make it to the Champions League semi-finals.
Little’s feelings were echoed by the Arsenal manager Jonas Eidevall, who said, “They are very physical and demand a lot of opponents.
“I’m a little disappointed with certain aspects of our performance. They man-marked us and were very aggressive.
“We expected that but we were disappointed we didn’t find the tactical balance.”
One of the key players missing on the day was Lia Walti who was not allowed to travel on matchday from the UK to Germany:
Jonas Eidevall says Lia Wälti was fit and in principle, available, but couldn’t travel with the team on Wednesday. UEFA wouldn’t allow her to travel alone today to play which Arsenal wanted.
— Tim Stillman (@Stillberto) March 31, 2022
Now, looking at the UEFA regulations, there is nothing about that kind of case. Annex J1 says:
All teams participating in the knockout stage are required to travel by charter flight and/or by private buses. This rule is applicable to all members of the team delegation traveling to a knockout stage match, regardless if they are traveling altogether or by separate means.
There is nothing in the ‘return to play’ version 6 protocol that mentions travel on the day is forbidden in the chapter 10 international travel procedure.
A bizarre decision by UEFA not to allow a player to travel, unless they have an extra Covid-19 manual that are not made public.
As much as Walti was missed, she was on the pitch in the first leg and Arsenal did not manage to win on the day.
But she would have certainly helped in attacking and defensive phases alongside Kim Little to control the midfield.
Now, it will be back to the drawing board for the players and the staff.
It is clear that top class players will need to signed during the summer transfer window to be able to compete well in next season’s tournament.
There are many players out of contract in June and many of them certainly don’t look to be in the manager’s plan for next season.
Could we see a clear-out with five players leaving the club or more?
Arsenal can now concentrate on the domestic trophies with a home FA Cup semi-final against Chelsea and the League title race against the same side with five games remaining and Chelsea in the lead by one point.
The next six or seven games are all must win for Arsenal, starting with Sunday’s game away to Leicester at the King Power stadium.
This is a game that needs to be won by a comfortable margin as Chelsea have a five-goal lead in goal difference as they have +40 while Arsenal have only +35
Arsenal, therefore, need to catch up in case the teams finish level on points.