There has been a lot of talk on my TL about Arsenal in Europe. There were plenty of fans wanting the humiliation of finishing bottom of our Champions League Group, rather than play in the Europa League. Some even going so far as wanting us to deliberately lose games. Strategically losing games is a dangerous path to go down as you cannot turn form on and off like a tap. Not for me, we go to Greece and go all out to score the goals that will take us through to the last 16. I’ll always want The Arsenal to go as far as they can in whatever competition they’re in. I even celebrated wildly when we won Quiz Ball back in the 1960s, as Ian Ure had his finest hour. That’s one for the teenagers!
Whilst it will be an intimidating atmosphere out there in Athens, of that there’s no doubt, I think that Olympiacos may be in two minds whether to stick or twist. It must be tempting for them to hold what they have and try to shut up shop, knowing Arsenal need to win by two clear goals to go through. If we score the first goal it will put further doubt in their minds. So let’s be positive, there is only one way for us to play and that’s to go all out and attack them and see where that takes us.
There are also so many fans saying we can’t win the Champions League so it’s not worth us being in it. Personally I think that school of thought is a load of old cobblers. The doubters say Barcelona are too good for us with Saurez, Neymar & Messi. Granted they are all fantastic players, but the Champions League is a cup knockout competition from the last 16, so you can get cup upsets. Look at how Chelsea won the Champions League against far superior sides in Barcelona and Bayern Munich against all the odds and expectation. All you need is to be at the top of your game, while the opposition is slightly off theirs and some luck going your way and anything can happen.
How many times have we seen Arsenal get turned over in cup competitions by sides far inferior to ourselves? Swindon, Walsall twice, Wrexham, Bradford, Birmingham and Luton just for starters. We may well lose to Barcelona but that is by no means a certainty. We’ve beaten both Barcelona and Bayern Munich at home in the past and Bayern Munich and Real Madrid away, so there’s a chance it could happen. There are also another two reasons to be optimistic.
If we do pull it off and qualify for the knockout stages of the Champions League, it doesn’t start again till the middle of February. So we have plenty of time to get our injured players back. Who knows Arsene Wenger may even blow the dust off his chequebook and sign a couple of new players in the January transfer window!
However if the worst happens and we don’t qualify for the Champions League last 16 we need to embrace the Europa League and do our level best to try and win that. Some fans may turn their noses up at it but who wouldn’t want to be at the Final in Basel, Switzerland if we face a mouth-watering NLD with Spurs or play Liverpool or Chelsea or Man Utd for that matter. I daresay the first ones moaning about not getting a ticket, would more than likely be the same ones who didn’t even want to be in it!
I want The Arsenal to win every time they step out on the pitch. No matter what the competition or the opposition. I think that’s how every Arsenal supporter should be. I feel sure that’s what Ernie Crouch would have thought on every occasion his beloved Gunners took the field in his 80 odd years of him supporting Arsenal Football Club bless him. So let’s all get behind the team and hope they pull it off on Wednesday. Come on you Gunners!
Not a very long piece this time. You should have managed to stay awake long enough to finish it! As always thanks for reading.
Our Thanks Gary Lawrence back once more as an always welcome guest columnist.
I am sure Gary won’t mind me saying he is one of the wise senior statesman of Arsenal Twitter so we suggest you get following @Garythegooner56
Started going to Highbury in ’66. Season ticket holder since ’76. Love The Arsenal. Need I say more?