Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger believes this could be his side’s best shot in years to win the UEFA Champions League.
Arsenal, who finished runners-up to Barcelona in this competition a decade ago, have struggled to get past the early knock-out rounds in recent seasons.
Wenger though believes that the quality of the squad he now possesses could make a huge difference to Arsenal’s hopes of doing well in the Champions League this year.
Speaking to reporters ahead of the Gunners’ clash with Paris St. Germain today, Wenger said, “I think we have a better chance, yes. I used to play with my younger squads when you build a stadium because you don’t have the resources. Now I have a team with more experienced players. The squad is between 24 and 30, basically. That’s where you have a good combination of physical strength and experience.”
Arsenal fans will be hoping that this well and truly is Arsenal’s year as the Gunners look to halt their seemingly unending poor run in the Champions League.
Arsene Wenger and Unai Emery – one is a veteran of nearly 20 years at his club, the other started his new job only months ago. Both share the same goal: delivering European glory with teams lacking a Champions League title.
Both Paris Saint-Germain and Arsenal managers are on opposite trajectories when the Champions league resumes for their teams on Tuesday at the Parc des Princes. It will be Emery’s first Champions League game as PSG’s coach, while Wenger is starting a 19th consecutive campaign in Europe’s most prestigious competition.
Unlike his former great rival Alex Ferguson, who turned Manchester United into a European powerhouse, Wenger has not tasted Champions League success since he was appointed Arsenal’s manager 20 years ago. Despite qualifying for the lucrative tournament for an English record 19 consecutive seasons, Arsenal has never won Europe’s biggest prize, losing to Barcelona in the 2006 final. The Gunners, who have won their last seven Champions League games in France, are looking to get beyond the last 16 for the first time since 2010.
Emery’s record in the Champions League is quite disappointing compared to what he achieved with Sevilla in the Europa League. Emery, who replaced Laurent Blanc this summer, guided Sevilla to a third consecutive Europa League title last season but led his various teams to just eight Champions League wins in 25 games.
Arsenal, a team that has long had a heavy French influence, could be spearheaded by a France international for its trip to Paris with striker Olivier Giroud pushing for his first start of the season.
The Gunners, who have exited Europe in the last 16 in each of the past six seasons, have been handed the daunting task of competing with PSG.
The French side, so dominant in their domestic league since being purchased by Qatari Sports Investments in 2011, have been quarter-finalists four campaigns in succession and were the highest-ranked side in the section.
However, Arsenal will approach Tuesday’s game at Parc des Princes with some optimism because Unai Emery’s team are hampered by a number of injuries.
They have also stuttered in their past two Ligue 1 games and are still adjusting to the new manager’s methods.