Will It Finally Be Arsenal’s Year In Europe Or Will The Good Start In The Champions League End?
Say what you like about Arsene Wenger, and people frequently do, but the man has consistently got Arsenal into the Champions League competition every year since 1998. Consistent performances in the Premier League have seen them finish in the top 4 year on year earning them the right to compete with the most elite clubs in Europe. Despite 19 appearances in the competition the Gunners have only made the final once and never won. Wenger, who is currently in the last year of his contract, may sense the clock is ticking and believe this is his last chance to finally win the major title that has eluded him.
Here we take a look at Arsenal’s football odds over this seasons Champions League campaign.
I must admit that I was not convinced at all that the Arsenal experiment of playing Alexis Sanchez in the centre forward position would work and for the first couple of games this season it looked like I was right. I have to say, however, that the Chilean is certainly proving me and all the other doubters wrong.
It seemed that the role was not good for Alexis and when the Gunners had tried it in the past it never worked out, so I expected him to be back on the left side as soon as Arsene Wenger had another option, but the 27-year old striker has improved in each game and is really looking the part now.
Momentum is a great thing in football and there is no doubt that Arsenal have it at the moment. We may have a had a bit of luck along the way, with the poor finishing of Cavani giving us the chance to draw at PSG and a soft penalty decision from the ref helping us to beat Southampton, but the fact of the matter is that the Gunners are going strong after a slow start to the new season.
There has been a lot of speculation about how many changes to the Arsenal starting line up Arsene Wenger will make for the second Champions League group match against the Swiss champions Basel tonight, even more so with Francis Coquelin reminding the Gunners boss of how injury problems have plagued the club in recent years.
Apart from having to replace the defensive midfielder though, with Granit Xhaka the obvious choice, I think we will see just one other change from the 11 players that started and did so well against Chelsea in the Premier League at the weekend. Arsenal do have an EPL match on Sunday to consider but after that is the international break and the trip to Burnley is a game we expect to win anyway.
Granit Xhaka has had a good start to his Arsenal career having scored two magnificent goals in just a handful of games and has become a favourite amongst the fans. Calls to give Xhaka a starting position on the team against Chelsea were left unanswered by Arsene Wenger last weekend, however now that Francis Coquelin seems to be ruled out for the time being, Xhaka will finally get the chance to kickstart hopefully a long career with the club.
It is not like Arsene Wenger to go over the top when Arsenal have a good game, just as the Frenchman is usually the voice of calm and reason when the Gunners suffer the setback of a bad performance or result, so it was a bit different to hear the Arsenal boss waxing lyrical about the team after the demolition of Chelsea at the Emirates stadium yesterday.
Perhaps it was down to all the frustration we have had with the Blues in recent years, or ever since Jose Mourinho and the crazy spending of Roman Abramovic changed everything. This certainly was an overdue win but it was the nature of the match that had Wenger buzzing, as reported by Metro.
The Arsenal and Chelsea teams are out for today’s big Premier League clash and there are a few surprised and talking points from both sides. The biggest news for me and from an Arsenal point of view is the continued absence of the Chelsea captain and centre back John Terry.
The veteran defender was possibly due to return today and I reckon it is a massive plus point for Arsenal’s chances of winning that he hasn’t made it, because that leaves Cahill and Luiz and the Brazilian has been making lots of mistakes since coming back from PSG.
Arsene Wenger is well aware of the qualities od Diego Costa, so the Arsenal coaches will have been working with the players, especially the ones on the defensive side of the team, on how to best cope with the Spain international and stop him from scoring when Chelsea come to north London in the Premier League today.
It is not just Costa’s abilities as a striker that is worrying the Arsenal boss, however, but his talent as a wind up merchant. The referee Mike Dean was largely to blame for our loss to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge last season, as he failed to take action when Costa should have seen red for fouling Koscielny but then sent off Gabriel for his reaction.
We heard from Arsene Wenger the sort of news that Arsenal fans have sadly become used to in recent years, with the return of the Welsh international star Aaron Ramsey after his hamstring injury having been put back yet again. He has now been out of action since that first EPL match against Liverpool and is not likely to be ready for next weekend either.
Some better news for the boss, however, was that our big French centre forward Olivier Giroud is close to a comeback having come through a training session earlier in the week without any problems. The striker was due to be tested again during training yesterday but as long as nothing untoward happened he should be fit to face Chelsea today.