Jack Wilshere says the players need to take responsibility for Arsenal's home loss to Bayern Munich in the Champions League, with the Gunners now facing an uphill battle to progress from the last 16 after being defeated 3-1 by the German club.
Arsene Wenger went into the match as a marked man among many pundits and fans, with Arsenal now only able to compete for the Champions League trophy after losing to Blackburn in the FA Cup.
Munich were already 2-0 up by the 21st minute, thanks to goals from Toni Kroos and Thomas Muller, and while Lukas Podolski was able to pull one back in the second half, Mario Mandzukic put the final nail in the coffin for Arsenal in the 77th minute, sliding in ahead of Bacary Sagna to force the ball over the line.
Wilshere was one of few Arsenal players who emerged from the match with credit, with the north London side lacking leadership and organisation throughout the game.
And the young midfielder, who appeared devastated after the loss, insisted that the heat shouldn't be on Wenger, but on the players he is putting out on the field.
"We didn't start great and that's been a thing for us this season," he said, according to BBC Sport. "In the second half we stepped it up and it's unfortunate we didn't do that in the first half.
"I'm not sure why, maybe it's a bit of nerves or anxiety because we show what we can do when we play, we will look at it and try to put it right.
"It's nothing to do with the manager, he puts us on the pitch, it's down to us to perform.
"The players have to take responsibility, the manager has been here for 16 years and he's done a great job. There's always a chance [in the second leg], we take it to their place, and we need a few goals. We have the players to do it, we just have to start better."
Arsenal's poor starts to their matches have been a common narrative in the Premier League, and while they have still been able to collect enough points to put them in contention for a top four spot, against Bayern Munich they look to have paid the ultimate price.
And as pressure continues to mount on Wenger's job, he admitted his side were just not up to an acceptable standard in the Euoprean tournament.
"They [Bayern Munich] are a team with quality and are very efficient, they are a good side, so congratulations to Bayern," Wenger said.
"Let's not hide the truth it will be very difficult [in the second leg] and we will try to make the impossible possible. We will try to play like we do at home and try to change the score. The third goal makes it very difficult but we will try.
"Our fans were fantastic tonight, we were very disappointed we couldn't give them the win they wanted of course. But [losing to Blackburn] it was not the best preparation mentally, but the players worked very hard and gave absolutely everything. I believe the third goal was a mental blow for the team, but it's very difficult when you are 2-0 down."
Podolski added: "The result speaks volumes. Bayern had a lot of pressure in the first half. However, we came out well in the second half and pulling one back was deserved. It will now be very difficult for us away from home."
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