Arsenal FC: Will They Stand a Chance in the Champions League This Year?
This year doesn't look too good for the English club as their great captain, Cesc Fabregas, has left Arsenal for his hometown club, FC Barcelona. There is also a transfer in process that would send Samir Nasri to Manchester City. This would add a huge blow to the club as one player is leaving because he doesn't believe the club can win trophies, while the other left for personal reasons.
Ultimately, this will affect Arsenal's performance in all competitions, particularly in the Champions League.
This year, many teams have upgraded their squad with transfers of all kinds. Manchester City bought Argentine Sergio Agüero, who dominated in his debut, scoring 2 goals and assisting one. Manchester United bought Ashley Young, who also scored on his debut for the club. Barcelona are Barcelona; they bought Fabregas, and Alexis Sanchez from Udinese. All these teams have big transfers, while Arsenal got two youngsters—Carl Jenkinson and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain—along with Lille striker Gervinho.
Compared to all the other big football clubs, Arsenal's purchases are mediocre. They could have done so much more.
Many of the teams in the Champions League have improved a lot since last year—the likes of Man City, Barca, Man U, Inter, and many other teams. I am not too sure Arsenal would be able to compete against teams of this magnitude without Fabregas or Nasri. They could still pull off some great wins, but it would be a lot harder without their playmakers.
How far will Arsenal go in the Champions League?
Each and every Arsenal player has to step up their game, take it to a whole new level. Arsene Wenger and his eye for potential need to realize that now is not the time to get young players, as they wouldn't have much of an effect against the other world class teams. Arsenal need some star players to create chances and score some of their own. There is a rumor that in the Nasri transfer, Arsene might give £40 million along with the Frenchman in exchange for Carlos Tevez. That would be an immense transfer to any team. If Arsenal could place that transfer and get a couple of solid center backs (such as Christopher Samba and Per Mertesacker, who the club have an interest in), the odds of this club doing well would increase greatly.
Let's forget transfers for a bit and think about the players we have right now. Our center defense is in a crisis of sorts as Arsenal only have one effective defender, Thomas Vermaelan, who is prone to injuries. Last season, Thomas left the Gunners helpless as he had a severe Achilles' injury that left him unable to play for practically the whole season. If something similar were to happen again, I don't know how Arsenal would manage their back four.
Robin van Persie is arguably one of the best players on Arsenal right now, along with Vermaelan. He has been scoring goals almost every game, but he needs to step up and lead the team to new heights. He has recently been announced as Arsenal captain; he needs to prove that he is deserving of the armband, otherwise, Vermaelan should be captain.
Many of the players on the club, especially the important ones tend to miss games due to suspensions, injuries etc. The players need to toughen up and be mature. There was no need for Gervinho to be violent in the game against Newcastle, that was just pathetic. Alex Song needs to cut down on his yellow and red cards, or else he might end up setting a record for bookings.
Right now, Arsenal have a ton of problems to deal with, and it's going to be a really tough season in all competitions.
At this point in time, my prediction for Arsenal in the Champions league is that they will make it past the group stage (probably in second place like last year), then past the first round (win in the first, draw in the second), but their efforts will fall short in the second round with a loss (draw in the first, loss in the second).
How well do you think Arsenal will do in the Champions League?
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