Following Tuesday’s 2-0 win against FC Bayern Munich, can Arsenal can finally win the biggest club tournament on Earth?
Obviously getting out of the group is the first set,p as Arsenal are currently bottom of the table halfway through the group stage. Targeting ten points to qualify is reasonable after Tuesday’s win; then the knockout rounds would be on the horizon.
The biggest question is can Arsenal consistently produce high level performance against the top teams as seen against FC Bayern? Recent history tends to say no. Successive defeats in the last 16 round in the last five seasons are not particularly confidence boosting.
There is no doubt that Cech’s signing has improved the defensive side of the team but we still saw yesterday that collective recovery of the ball against a team that is good in possession is still a problem.
It is true that ball possession does not always equal goals, as seen yesterday, but it is certainly a key feature of the Arsenal team and the further you go into the final rounds of the tournament, the better quality on the ball is needed and it has a big influence on the results.
There is also a need to be more efficient in defensive transitions. We have now seen Santi Cazorla dropping deeper alongside France Coquelin in an attempt solve the problems previously encountered.
As it is easier at the top level to score goals from winning the ball and find a vertical pass against a disorganised side in an attacking shape, the traditional Arsenal’s Achilles heel needs to disappear.
On the attacking side, the current set-up with Walcott starting games and Giroud coming on as a sub with a different profile seem to be bearing fruits, although getting those two playing together would surely create more uncertainty for opposition defenders.
The biggest question mark will certainly be about the players’ fitness, as the team cannot really afford to be short of many first team players as it has happened in previous seasons.
Arsenal can certainly win the tournament and reach Wenger’s personal holy grail, but all the stars will be need to be correctly aligned for it to happen. The luck factor will also be important as games can turn on any small event as, unfortunately, seen back in Paris a few years ago.
With the likes of Bayern Munich, Barcelona and Real Madrid all aiming to win Europe’s biggest prize, we would probably need a fair amount of luck on our side if we were to go on and lift the trophy in May.