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.
Recent History In The Competition
Wenger has consistently guided his team out of the group stage since the 2002-03 season but has struggled to get much further since 2009-10. Over the past six seasons they have finished in second place of the group state on five occasions, which means they have drawn 1st place teams who are (in theory harder to beat) and crashed out at the last 16 stage. In the last four years Arsenal have drawn a German team in the group who have proven to be their kryptonite, last year they finished second to Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund over the two previous seasons and Schalke 04 in 2012-13 season.
To give themselves the best chance in the last 16 this season, Arsenal need to break their recent 2nd place duck and ensure they top Group A this season. Fortunately there are no German teams in the Gunners group, as Paris Saint-Germain poses the biggest threat.
Apart from an opening day hiccup against Liverpool, Arsenal have been very impressive in the Premier League and have carried that form over the Champions League. Their first fixture away to PSG was always going to be the toughest fixture of the group stage, so Wenger will be very pleased to have gotten it out of the way, finishing with a very respectable 1-1 draw. Arsenal followed this up with a 2-0 home win against Basel which leaves them at joint top of the group. The four remaining games should all be winnable for the Gunners, providing they are suitably prepared to host PSG in the return fixture.
Football fans (including Gunner fans) have criticised Wenger for being frugal with his spending but this year (in what could be his final season) he has silenced the critics by spending an estimated combined £84 million on four new players, many of which were desperately needed. Shkodran Mustafi is the kind of defender that Wenger has needed for some time and he has slotted himself into Arsenal’s back 4 with ease. While Lucas Pérez was bought to be Arsenal’s new leading striker, instead that position has been filled by Alexis Sanchez, previously a winger in recent season, but Sanchez seems very comfortable as a striker and seems like a brand new player.
Could this finally be Arsene Wenger’s year to go all the way in Europe?