Boss claims his side would have had a shot had Van Persie not been sent offArsene Wenger has admitted that Barcelona forced Arsenal to sit back at the Nou Camp on Tuesday.
The two sides locked horns in the second leg of the last 16 in the Champions League, with Pep Guardiola's men winning 3-1 to book a spot in the quarter-finals of the competition.
The north London outfit have had to deal with a fair amount of criticism since their defeat, particularly due to the way Barca dominated the match.
"I think we had no option, they closed us down so well in the first half that we didn’t manage well to get out," Wenger said on the club's official website.
"It was never our intention to stay in our half, you look at the speed at which we lost the ball.
"If I played two full-backs on each flank in midfield you could say ‘ok, they wanted just to defend’. We played Rosicky, Nasri, Fabregas, Wilshere, Van Persie, and Diaby – not one defensive player.
"How can people think I said to the players ‘just stay in our half and wait’?
"I was absolutely desperate to get in their half and play but we didn’t manage to get out.
"It’s interesting to listen to the analysis of people [saying] we were dominated. We don’t deny that. But Barcelona had two shots on goal in the first half, they had a very sterile domination.
"You do not often see Arsenal not having one single shot on goal and of course that was our biggest problem but that would not have happened had we stayed 11 against 11, believe me.
"Overall they [the players] can gain a lot of confidence. The attitude and quality that we have shown in the two games was, for me, outstanding offensively and defensively. So the team can gain a lot of credit and belief as well."