Arsene Wenger Asks Arsenal Stars for Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo Moment

Michael WadeAnalyst IIIFebruary 19, 2014

Arsene Wenger wants more from Mesut Ozil.
Arsene Wenger wants more from Mesut Ozil.Matt Dunham/Associated Press

Arsene Wenger has called upon his Arsenal players to show just how good they are by making a name for themselves in the Champions League.

The Gunners face holders Bayern Munich on Wednesday, the side that knocked them out of the competition last season, and will have a chance to show the world what a talented side they are by dethroning the European champions.

Wenger pointed to star players such as Zinedine Zidane, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi who have thrived under the Champions League spotlight, and now he wants to see if his Arsenal team can do the same.

He is quoted by ESPN as saying:

If you look at the biggest games in the world, Zidane scores, Ronaldo scores, Messi scores. The competition belongs to them. That's why they are big players. Against Bayern, I want Arsenal to show that we have such big players.

But that recognition only comes with results and achievements. Once you win the Champions League, that's when people say you are a great player.

Wenger, having never won the Champions League and only reached the final of the competition once, is desperate for success on the European stage.

The veteran manager has built a team capable of delivering silverware, although at the moment it remains to be seen if Arsenal have the character to stand up to their biggest tests despite remaining in the Premier League title race, the FA Cup and the Champions League this season.

Arsenal players have been challenged to step up to the level of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Arsenal players have been challenged to step up to the level of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.Andres Kudacki/Associated Press

Players like Mesut Ozil, Jack Wilshere and Santi Cazorla are capable of performing on the biggest stage, but their application has been questioned in recent weeks as Arsenal's title bid has faltered.

In fact, Wenger said it was normal to question the contribution of Ozil, a club-record signing from Real Madrid last summer, after a loss in form.

BBC Sport reported Wenger as saying:

I wouldn't like to put too much pressure on him because he has been a top-class player until now.

He knows when he is not good enough he will get questioned - that is normal.

Wenger is right to challenge his players to step up to the plate, and there is no better opportunity for them to do it than over two legs against the European champions and one of the favourites to win the Champions League again this season.

Henry Winter, the Telegraph's football correspondent, says Ozil must perform against Bayern:

Arsenal have the players to hurt any team when they are on form and playing to their potential, and they have shown it by beating Borussia Dortmund, Napoli, Liverpool and Tottenham this season.

However, at other times heavy defeats against Liverpool and Manchester City have shown they can still crack under pressure.

Bayern Munich won't make it easy for Arsenal.
Bayern Munich won't make it easy for Arsenal.Martin Meissner/Associated Press

The displays of many Arsenal players over two legs against Bayern Munich, and whether or not they progress to the next round of the Champions League, will likely make or break their season.

Victory could prove to themselves that they are capable of ending their nine-year trophy drought, while defeat will introduce the same old question marks and seeds of doubt that have thwarted them in the past.