Arsène Wenger questioned the mindset of his Arsenal players, saying they were guilty of complacency, after he saw them suffer Europa League humiliation at the hands of the Swedish minnows Östersund.
Wenger’s team were beaten 2-1 at the Emirates Stadium, having trailed 2-0 after 23 minutes and, although they progressed to the Europa League last 16 by dint of their 3-0 win in the first leg in Sweden, they were booed off at full-time by an exasperated home crowd.
“We were much better in the second half and we should have scored a few goals but in the first-half, we were in trouble,” Wenger said. “We were complacent, not focused, open when we lost ball and we had no ideas when we had the ball. Overall, we responded and we did the job to qualify.
“We prepared in a serious way but you have external circumstances – the fact we won 3-0 in the first leg and that we have a big game on Sunday [the Carabao Cup final against Manchester City]. People subconsciously think you have just to turn up to win and it doesn’t work like that. We played against a good side.
“You see it in the FA Cup. If you are not 100% focused, you can be in trouble. We have seen many times in the FA Cup upsets like that, such as our defeat against Nottingham Forest this season. I played a similar team to that game. We were not at the level that is demanded.”
Jack Wilshere, who was the captain for the match, added: “We were nowhere near it and not good enough. We are through and that is all that counts. Maybe, we underestimated them a little bit. The only positive is that we are through.”
Graham Potter, Östersund’s English manager, described himself as “incredibly proud” of his team. “We talked about trying to play well, win the match and hope for the miracle. We got two out of three,” he said. “We’ve got a Swedish Cup match on Monday, so it’s back down to earth, back to reality.”