THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE RETURNS – BUT CAN ARSENAL WIN IT?
The Champions League returns this week and im going to have a look at Arsenal’s chances of winning it.
Let’s get one thing clear from the start, Arsenal are a feared side in Europe and nobody would want to draw us. We have a style of football that could tear anyone open on our day. We have a very good record in the champions league, reaching the quarters, semi’s and final in the last five years. I think we should only be behind Barcelona, Man Utd and Chelsea in terms of favorites to lift the trophy this year.
The champions league is arguably the competition that suites Arsenal’s style the most. We seem to look a lot more comfortable playing against European opposition. We get more protection from referees as well. It’s no secret that Arsene Wenger would sell his mother to win the Champions League (joking of course!). But it is the one trophy that has eluded him thus far and he has to win it at some stage, he’s too good not too. (lets hope it’s not with Real Madrid!)
First we have to navigate a tricky away tie against Porto (full match preview tomorrow). They have a very good home record and i think a draw would be a great result on Wednesday, then tear them apart at home. If we can’t beat Porto over two legs we shouldn’t even be thinking about winning the competition. It was a lucky draw so let’s take advantage and get through to the Quarter Finals with minimum fuss.
After beating Porto, success in the Champions League will rest on several things, but the main two will be:
- – Avoiding Chelsea
- – Avoiding Man Utd
We would have far more chance of progression if we faced Barcelona or Real Madrid than either of the English sides. We really need to avoid them for as long as possible. Don’t give me ‘i’d love to play Utd or Chelsea and get revenge’, i think we have seen enough evidence this year alone to suggest that many of this squad can’t cope in the big games against ManUtd and Chelsea.
So to have any chance this year, let’s pray we don’t meet Man Utd or Chelsea, if we had to let it be the final where anything can happen. We could do them in a one-off game, but not over two-legs.
I would take any of the likely remaining European teams, with the exception fo Barcelona. I would love to meet them at some point for two reasons. To watch the greatest exhibition of football you will ever see and to get revenge for 2006. If we did draw them i think we would give them a real game, but they might just have too much for us so lets leave them till the final if we can help it. But any of the other possible sides i think we would be fine.
The possible return of Robin Van Persie could be a major influence in our Champions League aspirations. He is due to return in mid April, with the hope he could get back ahead of schedule. The first leg of the semi-finals is on the 20th April so if we make it that far, we may have RVP back! I know he wouldn’t be fully match fit but he would be a real boost to have back in the squad.
Injuries have really hurt us again this year and i fully believe if RVP didn’t get injured we would be top of the Premier League. So avoiding any more serious injuries to key players is obviously another important factor if we were to win the Champions League.
Winning any cup competition relies on luck. Getting a dodgy decision in a game, avoiding injuries and suspensions, and lucky draws all play there part in winning a cup. So with a bit of luck, avoiding the English teams and Barca till the final and this could be Arsenal’s year.
This was just a quick look at how Arsenal stand in this years Champions League. But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves, we have a tough away trip to Porto on Wednesday. Match preview tomorrow.
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