Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger calls for away-goals rule to be changed
LONDON -- Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has called on the game's authorities to amend what he described as the "outdated" away goals rule in European competitions.
Monaco beat Arsenal on away goals after a 3-3 aggregate draw in the Champions League round of 16 on Tuesday and the Gunners also suffered the same fate against Bayern Munich in 2013.
Wenger believes the time has come to make a change to a rule initially introduced to encourage away teams to play with a more attacking mindset several decades ago.
"Two Premier League teams have gone out on away goals and that should be questioned," Wenger told a news conference, as he reflected on his side's exit and that of Chelsea against Paris Saint-Germain last week.
"It is a rule that is outdated now and needs to be changed. I have fought for that for a long time. This rule was created in the '60s to favour teams to attack away from home, but since then football has changed. The weight of the away goal counts too big today. We should count it [away goals] after extra time, like we do in the League Cup in England."
Wenger, who has now seen his side eliminated at the first knockout stage in Europe for the past five years, went on to insist the absence of an English side in the last eight of the Champions League is not necessarily a sign of a decline in standards in the Premier League as a whole.
"You cannot draw general conclusions from that," he argued as he reflected on a poor week for English clubs against their European rivals.
"The quality of the Premier League is very high and the physical demands are extreme. I'm not in a mood too much today to analyse what is wrong for English football.
"In direct knock-out, it is important you are very efficient and a bit lucky and none of the teams, apart from Barcelona [in their 3-1 aggregate win against Manchester City], look superior."
Wenger has long lobbied the call for change at UEFA's conference for European national coaches, but accepts until there is unilateral agreement, teams will just have to get on with finding a way to deal with any perceived negative tactics.
"I accept the verdict, the rule is the rule and we have lost. We have to be better than the rules. That is not a debate I want to create because we lost. We were not good enough to win [against Monaco] and we have to accept that," said Wenger.
"We have to be strong enough to adapt to the rules, but it is a debate that exists.
"I brought this up at the manager's meeting in Geneva for two or three years. At the meetings, it is split.
"You could still keep the rule in extra-time [but then] people say 'We still have another 30 minutes to play away from home.' It will still be a little disadvantage, that is for sure."
Wenger also moved to clarify his postmatch comment that he would prefer his team to be playing in the Europa League, as it would give Arsenal a better chance of winning silverware, saying the quotes were taken out of context.
"This comment was a joke," Wenger added. "It is better we are in the Champions League, it's as simple as that. We want to be in the Champions League and nowhere else.
"You cannot say anything in a press conference without it creating a controversial situation. This is why people don't say anything in a press conference anymore."