Per Mertesacker
Per Mertesacker admits that Arsenal are "far away" from being able to challenge the top clubs for Champions League glory  Getty Images

Arsenal's dreams of progressing in the Champions League came to an abrupt end, when they were knocked out by Ligue 1 club AS Monaco in the last-16 stage of the competition.

This loss to the French club makes it five consecutive years that the Gunners have been knocked out of the Champions League in the last-16 stage. The first four times were against Bayern Munich and Barcelona, but this time it was Monaco, a club whom most people expected Arsenal to beat.

But the Principality club put in an impressive performance in the first-leg and beat the north London club 3-1 at the Emirates Stadium taking everyone by surprise. Arsene Wenger's team would have had to create history in order to overturn a the two-goal deficit from the first leg, but were unable to do so and were knocked out on away goals despite their 2-0 victory at the Stade Louis II.

This has prompted the Gunners vice-captain Per Mertesacker to admit to the fact that Arsenal are 'far away' from being able to challenge top clubs for Champions League glory.

The German defender believes that Monaco were the deserved winners as Wenger's team did not have the mental level to cope with the French team in the first leg.

"It is difficult after such a performance like that to think, 'yeah, we missed that'. In the first game, we didn't have that mental level you need to compete at the highest level. That was missing but you could see last night how good we are as a team and how well organised we can be," Mertesacker said, as quoted by the London Evening Standard.

"We need to consider that every day in training and in games. That is why we are so far away from winning the Champions League."

"When you get knocked out, you are far away. It is the last 16 and Monaco were underestimated by a lot of people but they deserved it by playing well in the first leg. We had one bad game and that is enough to get knocked out," the former Werder Bremen defender explained.

"In the first leg, we conceded that late goal which was overall the killer but last night we didn't look back. We just tried to do our job well. That was the first target — to not look back and think, 'what have we done wrong', especially the first leg, so it is really disappointing for us."

The 2014 World Cup winner admitted that it was a disappointing result, but was happy with his team's performance on the night and has urged his players to play at the same level in the Premier League and the FA Cup.

Arsenal face a tough battle to finish in the top four and the Gunners also have an FA Cup semi-final against Reading next month as they look to retain the trophy they won last year.

"We have to try to play at the same level quality-wise in the FA Cup and the League," Mertesacker concluded.