That Arsenal haven’t won the UEFA Champions League despite being the possessors of some of the world’s best players during the Arsene Wenger era, is beyond the understanding of anyone who has followed the sport during the past two decades.
Even if one takes the previous decennium out of the equation – a period that is characterised by Arsenal’s impecuniousness – why couldn’t they lift a European honour is a question tough to answer and a truth hard to digest.
After all, it was the time when Arsenal were arguably the world’s best side.
It’s this guilt of not being able to master Europe that still haunts Arsene Wenger.
He has done nearly everything that everyone dreams of and few go on to achieve, yet, there’s a sense of dissatisfaction, a sense of failure that Wenger can associate himself with when it comes to conquering the biggest stage of them all.
As his managerial career edges closer to its inevitable end, there’s only trophy left to complete what would surely go down as one of the game’s greatest managerial tenures: the UEFA Champions League.
Arsene Wenger’s current squad offers more than a glimmer of hope to achieve just that.
It’s not often that the thought of Arsenal winning the Champions League crosses the mind, and the fact that it has this season tells you something about the Gunners’ competitive edge, which is indeed similar to what we saw back when the Professor was at the peak of his then incommensurable powers.
If we sit down to remember the last time the Gunners defied as many odds as they have thus far en route to the round of 16, you’d be amazed to know how distant such occurrence is in time.
The Arsenal we have known for years doesn’t steal a game in the dying minutes with the help of individual brilliance, for they’ve hardly had the privilege of having such a player; the Arsenal we have known doesn’t blag a point away from home against one of Europe’s elite; the Arsenal we have known doesn’t just go unscathed through a reasonably tough set of fixtures.
“When Arsenal are a club with fluency and momentum, they are as good as anybody,” Charlie Nicholas told Soccer Special.
“They’ve beaten Barcelona in the past and they can beat any of the top sides, but can they do it consistently. It’s looking as if they are much tougher. They are much more up for the fight and it is all good news for Arsenal.”
“Arsenal have got their swagger back and were in the groove,” he said. “He didn’t score tonight but Alexis Sanchez, alongside Mesut Ozil, was absolutely fabulous to watch.
“The players that came in also did well. Lucas Perez got a hat-trick, Alex Iwobi scored, Kieran Gibbs basically got three assists and Rob Holding also played well at the back. So it’s all good news and a happy December so far.”
Nicholas added: “The squad’s so strong. You’ve got Walcott on the bench, you’ve got Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who has been getting the nod ahead of the likes of Iwobi, who also grabbed a goal. Now Wenger’s got a fabulous headache.
“It’s amazing what a competitive edge does to a group because you don’t need to be the best of mates, but in training, you’ll feel the spirit, you’ll feel the togetherness and you’ll feel the endeavour that you’ve got to be at the top of your game to impress the manager.”
“There are no excuses for Arsenal anymore.
“You have the money, you have the capacity and you have the quality. It’s up to them to prove it and not just Arsene standing up in his loyal chair and saying I believe in these guys.
“They have to show it but I just feel that with this competitive edge and togetherness, it’s becoming a bit of a reality.”
If the previous run is anything to go by, Charlie Nicholas is absolutely spot on regarding his take on Arsenal’s Champions League hopes.
At the moment, there seems nothing wrong with the current crop of players who are all proving Wenger wrong in terms of his team selection in the right way.
That comes in contrast to the previous instances when every player whom the Arsenal Boss brought in to rest the preferred XI, proved him right (to drop) by putting in a horrific display on most of the occasions.
Look no far than David Ospina as an example whose place came under a lot of scrutiny last year but it hasn’t in 2016/17 since he’s a totally different player now.
This just shows how improved every single player in the squad is and how much is the desire for big trophies. With all due respect, this isn’t a mere FA Cup winning side anymore.
It might be a tad early to say so but Arsenal have been emitting the same waves and portraying the same traits as we generally see in a team that goes on to be crowned the Champions of Europe.
It may just be Arsene Wenger’s season, it may just be the season when Football’s now rare philosophy triumphs.