I’ve never witnessed Arsenal do anything the easy way and this years Champions League group stage was no different.
Arsenal went to Athens last night in search of at least a 2-0 win to qualify for the last 16 of the Champions League and put in a great performance.
Some will say it was against a poor team, that’s probably true but going to Athens, a place where there’s a very hostile atmosphere, against a team that beat you on your own turf (some how) a few months ago was never going to be an easy task.
Joel Campbell for the second game in a row worked his socks off and his involvement in the 2nd goal was brilliant, great first touch great feet and a great pass to slip in Giroud to score.
Would have been my man off the match had Giroud not scored a hat-trick.
Well done to Giroud as well who got his first hat-trick for the club, he takes a lot of stick and it’s nice for him to have an evening like that to boost his confidence going into the busy Christmas period.
I know Arsenal scraped through the group by the skin of their teeth but it’s got to the point now where we have to start being serious contenders in the the Champions league.
I love Wenger, always have always will and he’s achieved so much at Arsenal but if there is an area he’s under achieved its in Europe.
In his time we’ve been to a UEFA Cup final a Champions League Final and reached the Champions League Semi-Final twice, when you’ve been in the competition for 18 years in a row that’s under achieving for me.
We might of had a period from 2006-2013 when we weren’t in a good financial position to compete. Now with players like Cech, Koscienly, Ramsey, Ozil, Sanchez, world class players who have so much experience, including World Cup winners we should be looking to go far in this competition.
A lot of you might disagree with me on that but I’m not deluded, I know Arsenal are not the best team in Europe I know there’s a level between your Barcelona’s, Real Madrid’s and Bayern Munich’s to the rest but the best in Europe doesn’t always win the Champions League it’s a cup competition and anything can happen.
Were Liverpool who finished 5th in the Premiership in 2005 the best team in Europe? Were Chelsea the best in Europe when they finished 6th and won the Champions League? Even Arsenal in 2006, awful domestically and scraped 4th but beat the Real Madrid team full of players like Beckham, Figo, Roberto Carlos, Zidane, Ronaldo, Fabio’s Capello’s Juventus and went onto the final breaking the clean sheet record! It’s important to remember that even with 10 men we were 12 minutes away from beating Barcelona in the final.
Arsenal have to win the Champions League soon, they’ve been in it long enough and should have won it by now but to achieve that we need to get to those quarter and semi finals. That means beating the big teams along the way to create that belief we can win it.
It’s about time we seriously started challenging the big guns in Europe for that trophy and not just making up the numbers, it’s the one trophy that has eluded Wenger and Arsenal.
As a Gooner words cannot describe how much I want to see my team win that trophy, I WANT IT SO BADLY.
We have to believe we can win it, on our day we can beat any team in Europe. It’s been done over the years we’ve beaten Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Real Madrid, AC Milan, Inter Milan the and the list goes on.
First of all we need to get past the round of 16, something we haven’t done in about 6 or so seasons now. I seriously think we need to get as far as the last 8 maybe even the last 4 this season.
It’s long overdue that we have a good run in Europe at the very least.
Having a good run in Europe will help us believe in future seasons we can actually win the competition, it will help us in signing big players in transfer windows and it will help you keep our big players at the club for longer because let’s face it players like Sanchez and Ozil etc don’t just want to play in the Champions League they want to win it. Going far in the competition even if you don’t win it gives you the believe that you are one of the best teams in Europe and the belief to win it.
If we go out in the round off 16 then we may as well have gone into the Europa League and tried to win that.
On to the knock out stages now and Arsenal
can draw 1 off 5 teams
Zenit St Petersburg
That’s what you get for finishing 2nd in your group.
Real Madrid can be got at for me if you play it right. I believe you can get around the midfield and at their defence that’s been a long standing problem for Real Madrid. Sometimes their centre halves can be wreckless and lack concentration so you will get chances against them.
Thing is with Real Madrid they have such a talented midfield and strike force. They possess a load of fire power offensively with the likes of Bale, Ronaldo, James Rodriquez, Modric, Kroos, Benzema and the list goes on. If they keep the ball and pass around the opposition, create gaps they can crucify teams, similar to Arsenal at times because both teams can be so good with the ball but can be sluggish without it. They do have a manager in Benitez that is tactically very good and is good at rotating his squad and that is very important at this level.
Atletico Madrid are going about their business quietly so far this season in La Liga and the Champions League, a really good team who two seasons ago came within seconds off winning the competition.
With Antoine Griezmann having a good scoring season so far and Jackson Martinez having settled in well. The two of them along with Fernando Torres can always get goals.
Diego Simeone in charge, a very good tactician and knows how to get the best out of his players but Athetico are certainly not the same team they were 2 years ago. If we had drawn them two years ago I would have said there is no chance we’ll beat them but now I think they are beatable. Having said that, on their day they are still capable of beating anybody in Europe.
We have seen it many times in the past where Simeone pumps his players up for the big games and gets his tactics spot on. His teams become extremely difficult to break down and like to hit teams on the break with pace and aggression, just ask Barcelona and Real Madrid.
They have a few very disciplined and experienced players in Koke, Tiago, Gabi, Godin, Juanfran, Filipe Luiz to name a few. These players can be masters in defending and frustrating teams.
Wolfsburg are a top team and have one of the best home records in Germany and Europe. They finished 2nd to Bayern Munich in Germany last season and they have a lot of good players. They are similar to Arsenal in terms off playing a high line, full backs push forward and over lap and are basically wingers and their wide forwards such as Draxler and Schurrle drift in and cause damage centrally. They are certainly more dangerous than Arsenal on set pieces!
Swiss left back Rodriguez and Brazilian centre half Naldo can also strike brilliant free kicks as well.
They have a lot of options offensively in players like Bas Dost, Max Kruse, Ivan Perisic and of course super Nicholas Bendtner so they have plenty of options.
Deiter Hecking has done a great job with Wolfsburg but Arsenal can definitely score goals against them home and away, they have two good (and old) centre backs in Naldo and Dante but Naldo seems to be better at scoring them! Arsenal and Wolfsburg met in the Emirates Cup in Pre-Season and Arsenal won 1-0 but Wolfsburg were quite impressive.
Then there is Barcelona! The team I really hope we avoid! Although I feel we are definitely capable of beating them in the one off game, I don’t think there are many teams in the world who could beat them over two legs. For me them and Bayern Munich are the top two teams in the world at the moment.
Even when that front three are having an off day they are still capable of destroying defences, how do you stop Suarez, Neymar, Messi?
Not only do they have that awesome front three but behind them are the likes of Rakatic, Iniesta, Busquets.
That three in midfield even off the ball work so hard. They are capable of pressing to win it back or being disciplined in the right shape and positions to not be caught out. On the ball they are so technically good, passing and moving around so quickly that it makes me dizzy watching it. Busquets does all the simple things brilliantly, his positioning is second to none, intercepts the ball and makes it look effortless, a great passer of the ball and he has very quick feet, he’s always been extremely under rated.
Rakatic and Iniesta both have quick feet too and are both fantastic passers of the ball. They can read the game, pick a pass, chip in with goals and can dribble past players for fun.
The front three though are irresistible at times. They move around so much,pass the ball, dribble, and can create goals from nothing. Barcelona have world class players all over the pitch.
ZENIT ST PETERSBURG
I can’t say I know too much about Zenit St Petersburg. I know that Andre Vilas Boas has done a very good job and that they smashed their group with Valencia and Lyon in it winning 5 out of 6 games. They only lost on the last match day so if Arsenal do draw Zenit don’t underestimated them.
Best case scenario: Zenit St Petersburg
Worst case scenario: Barcelona