“We always felt we would go through, we believed we would win the game and stay in this competition,”
“I’m sure no-one would like to play us after that result”
“It was one of our greatest European nights,”
These were the lofty quotes of Theo Walcott, the Arsenal winger cum striker. Arsenal had repeatedly shot themselves in the foot in their group stage matches and it all culminated in a must win match against Olympiacos Piraeus in which they were at their dominant best and did what was required of them with relative ease.
“I think it can lift our season. Why not? The amount of confidence in that dressing room is spreading out to all the players.
“That’s what you want going into the Christmas period because it is the time the Premier League really maps out where you are going to be at the end of it. So come January, we will see how it goes.
“We made it so difficult for ourselves, no-one really gave us any chance of getting through but the attitude in that dressing room was fantastic.
“We always felt we would go through, we believed we would win the game and stay in this competition.
“The Champions League is where we want to be and all the guys worked tremendously hard to make this happen. But we want to make this job a bit easier next time!”
The journey only gets harder for Arsenal now as they have potentially formidable opposition lined up in the form of a pot consisting of Barcelona, Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid, Wolfsburg and Zenit St Petersburg with the remaining teams ruled out because of the selection rules implemented by UEFA in their draws.
Walcott further said: “I’m sure no-one would like to play us after that result. It’s the Champions League. Whoever you get in the draw is going to be difficult.
The underdogs have proven themselves on the glorious stage of the Champions League time and again and Arsenal have themselves tasted miserable and humiliating defeat at the hands of AS Monaco last season. Walcott acknowledges that fact and assures that lessons have been learnt.
“You’ve seen teams struggle when they should go through and should be winning. It’s the way the set-up is now, even in the Premier League you see every team get much better.
“It doesn’t matter who we get, if we all contribute and play like that then we can beat anyone on our day. If we get a few of our players back as well then our squad will be even stronger than it is now.
“Whoever we end up playing, we must respect them. Monaco, obviously, we didn’t respect them at all.
“If we get the likes of Wolfsburg – we played them in the Emirates Cup – it will be a completely different ball game because they had a great result against Manchester United. But who knows until the draw is done.”
It is a typical player’s response after a high adrenalin encounter but what remains to be seen is whether Arsenal come out of their shell and for once do not flatter only to deceive at the penultimate step. Injuries have already struck the squad and with rather inconsistent performances, it can be safe to say that they are clearly not the contenders to win the title but an impressive run in the Champion’s League will go a long way in assuring the fans about the ambitions of the London club.