Speaking ahead of tonight’s game against Olympiacos, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger claimed that the Gunners would be ‘very dangerous’ if they managed to qualify for the Round of 16. Arsenal are on the verge of elimination, needing to win by at least two goals to secure the second place in Group F; but Wenger thinks that his team are very capable of doing it.
The manager highlighted that the only reason Arsenal are so low down is because of a succession of mistakes in the previous games, like the own goals against Dinamo Zagreb and Olympiacos, without which we would have already secured qualification. He said:
We can be dangerous if we go through because we come from far. Overall if you look at the numbers since the start of the Champions League group stage, we have played with 10 men in Zagreb, we scored an own goal at home to Olympiacos, every single game we were a bit unlucky but if we get through we will be dangerous that is for sure.
At the moment we have two or three super-favourites [for the competition] and whoever gets through will have to chase them.
As long as you don’t win the competition – at any stage to go out is bad. That is basically it. On the other hand, we have gone 15 times out of the group consecutively so you could say that is a good habit.
The manager and players have been very vocal of the 15 consecutive season qualifying record, and they should rightly be proud of that achievement. However, it needs to be remembered that Arsenal have then been knocked out of the Round of 16 in each of the previous five years as well, including last season’s elimination by Monaco.
Wenger is also right in saying that we are not among the elite European teams – but that is more down to our injury problems than anything else. A fully fit Arsenal side managed to beat Bayern Munich 2-0 only a couple of months ago, and retain the capability to do so against any side in the world. Assuming we go through tonight, the manager’s focus should therefore be on signing reinforcements and improving the regimes at the club so that we are able to progress beyond the Round of 16 as well and not just be an also-ran.