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Mar 11, 2014

Wenger: Arsenal, Bayern remain close

Bayern Munich continue their quest for a second straight European title by disposing of Arsenal and solidifying their place in the quarterfinals.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger believes there is 'no gap' between his Gunners and reigning European champions Bayern Munich, despite seeing his Champions League hopes extinguished for a second successive season at the Allianz Arena.

McNicholas: Arsenal keep heads high
Uersfeld: Bayern work through distractions
Delaney: Three things: Bayern vs. Arsenal

While the 1-1 second leg draw was a commendable effort by the Gunners, they rarely looked like overturning the 2-0 deficit from the first leg of the tie.

Arsene Wenger remains confident in his team's strength despite Tuesday's result.

The Arsenal boss was adamant that the red card shown to his goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny was the key decision in the tie, as he insisted his team could have been a match for Champions League favourites Bayern.

"I believe that over the two legs, quality-wise and spirit-wise we were absolutely at the level requested," Wenger said. "The final ball was not always there, but overall you can see the impact of the sending-off in the first leg had a huge impact. That is the regret we had.

"Bayern is a good team, we played with 10 men and we conceded a goal in the final minute trying to equalise. I think we have shown that we had the quality to knock them out over the two legs.

"There is no gap [between Arsenal and the top teams]. We were 1-1 here and we lost the first leg. That is where the tie was lost. We have a lot of regrets because over the two legs, we had a chance to knock them out.

"Our defending, our spirit was good. The frustration we had was the last 20 minutes I felt that Bayern was very vulnerable defensively and that we didn't take advantage of that.

"We always missed the first pass, but I felt the situations were there where we could have made more of it. At the end of the day we never got them really under pressure.

"Even at 1-1 you could see they became suddenly nervous, but because we never managed to make it 2-1, of course you could not really see how they would have responded."

Arsenal star man Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain joined his manager in suggesting Bayern could have been rattled by the Gunners on home soil, but he accepted the scale of the recovery required was too much as they looked to recover the first-leg deficit.

"Bayern are always going to have weaknesses, just like any other team, and when you score a goal it puts anyone under pressure and [makes] anyone a little bit nervous," he told ITV Sport. "So we knew we needed something like that to make them uneasy and obviously when we did that we thought we had a chance.

"In the first game, losing 2-0 at home [ensured it] was never going to be an easy task coming here. We went down to 10 men at the Emirates and up until that point we were doing really well and it was an uphill climb.

"The 2-0 defeat wasn't the best result for us [in the first leg] and we knew we had the chance to come here and give it our all and try to come away with a result, but it wasn't to be in the end.

"Maybe we lacked a bit of quality with our final ball. I thought we got into a lot of dangerous positions we just lacked to find that final cutting-edge ball tonight and at the top level you need to be able to do that, especially against a team like Bayern.

"Maybe tonight we were just lacking that, but the boys put in a great shift tonight and we can take away positives and be proud of our effort."

Wenger confirmed that midfielder Mesut Ozil was taken off at half-time in Munich with a 'serious' hamstring injury, which is likely to keep him out for a few weeks.

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