While Arsenal are not exactly in a bad place right now, as we sit just three points off the top of the Premier League and are already guaranteed a place in the next round of the Champions League, you could argue that we have not really pushed on as we would have hoped after comfortably beating our bogey team Chelsea.
It is not a 100 percent accurate way of telling which Arsenal players will be in the starting line-up, but almost every time Arsene Wenger chooses one of the Gunners to do a press conference with him then that player will be in the team.
Yesterday the Arsenal boss spoke to the football media as Arsenal prepare for the Champions League away tie with Ludogorets and it was the two goal hero from Saturday’s win at Sunderland, Olivier Giroud, who fielded questions alongside Wenger, as the match preview in The Mirror shows.
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.
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.
Arsenal have learned to our cost in recent years that finishing second in a Champions League group, despite being better than not getting out of the group at all, often means that you are drawn against a European giant like Bayern Munich or Barcelona in the next round.
So with our main rivals for top spot this year being PSG, the injury and form problems affecting the French champions at the minute is a big boost to our UCL campaign. Even without that, however, Arsene Wenger feels that the current Arsenal squad is better equipped to compete in this elite competition.
Despite Arsenal having a fine and enviable record of qualifying for the Champions League group stage and then getting past that and into the knockout phase, there is no getting around the fact that we have not reached the business end of the European cup for way too long.
That has been mainly due to the fact we have been runners up rather than topping the group, although even when we got the great draw of Monaco from the winners’ pot we managed to muck it up. With clubs like Barcelona and Bayern Munich expected to win their groups it is a massive advantage to win our own and avoid them and this year has given Arsenal a great chance to do it.
The Arsenal forward Alexis Sanchez has still not found his best form for the Gunners since coming back from a hamstring problem. He did not start the season too well either after helping Chile to win the Copa America last summer and looking jaded for a while.
But he still one of the players that Arsenal fans would be most loath to see leave and I am sure that Arsene Wenger feels the same way. But with The Mirror reporting that two big European clubs are looking to make a transfer bid for Sanchez in the summer, there might not be a lot we can do to keep him.
Arsenal could really have done with our England international forward Danny Welbeck coming back from injury a lot sooner in the season and his comeback may prove to have been too late to save the Gunners from this most frustrating of seasons, but he has at least come back with a bang.
Once again at the weekend he made a big difference after coming on as a sub in the FA cup defeat to Watford. Arsene Wenger suggested after that loss that he was having to ease Welbeck back as he has been out for a long time and is not quite fully match fit yet.
Make no mistake Arsenal fans, we have very little chance of getting past the current La Liga and Champions League holders Barcelona and into the next round. Even if we do manage to win the match it will not be enough unless we score at least three goals and win by two.
A 2-0 scoreline would, at least, take us to extra time and you can just about see Arsenal managing to score two or three against Barca if the likes of Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez are on the ball. It is at the other end where our biggest problem lies though, as Arsene Wenger explained in a report on the Arsenal website.