After the capitulation at White Hart Lane and the less than convincing win at home to Leicester, you could be forgiven for thinking any decent run in the Champions League is a forlorn hope.
by JÃ©rÃ©my Couture
But let’s not forget the way we played at the Etihad when, despite having far less possession than the hosts, it was a convincing 2-0 win. And that kind of approach may yet hold the key to a convincing campaign.
And it’s probably fair to say that this is the trophy most Gooners would like to get their hands on more than any other as it’s been completely elusive so far. Those of us who were lucky enough to be in the Stade de France for the 2006 Champions League final 2-1 loss to Barcelona will remember that, although it was a great evening, Arsenal were comprehensively beaten by a better side. And that was a team that included Thierry Henry at his absolute peak, along with a whole host of other great names from our past including Robert Pires, Cesc Fabregas and Freddie Ljungberg to name just a few.
So you could be forgiven for thinking that, although the current squad includes some of the most exciting players in world football, it can’t match up to the class of 2006. Therefore, any Champions League optimism is fairly groundless.
As things stand as of writing, Arsenal are generally priced 20-1 in the football betting for the Champions League and behind Bayern Munich, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Chelsea, Atletico Madrid and Manchester City.
But Arsenal can beat anyone on their day and there have been quite a few signs of late that the team is really beginning to gel. In particular, the skills and workmanlike performances of both Santi Cazorla and Alexis Sanchez, who has had injury problems this season, have been extremely encouraging. With an imposing Olivier Giroud up front to knock balls down to the feet of those two, or straight into the back of the net, Arsenal are a challenging and dangerous threat to any team. Manchester City found this out to their cost.
What’s more, Arsenal have a relatively straightforward task on paper of getting past Monaco to the quarter-finals. After that, anything is possible. A run to the final in a repeat of 2006 might not be out of the question. Of course, it would be a mistake to view Monaco as pushovers, but the Gunners simply have to prevail over the two legs. It will also be an emotional tie for Arsene Wenger. The manager will be determined to succeed against his former club.
And if and when that happens, there is no limit to how far we can progress in the campaign. The Gunners of old always rose to the occasion against the likes of Barcelona and the famous 2-1 victory over a seemingly invincible side in 2011. We will surely see the same spirit again in the latter stages.
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