Some thoughts on Arsenal’s Champions League chances

Real Madrid were knocked out the Champions League last night, leaving the trio of Manchester United, Lyon and Bayern Munich to join Arsenal in the quarter-finals.

No-one would argue against the fact that with Madrid topping the Spanish league and players like Cristiano Ronaldo and Kaka in their team they looked a decent chance of winning the competition this season. And while their recent record in the Champions League is quite simply pathetic – six Round of 16 defeats in a row – Madrid’s exit makes Arsenal’s life just that little bit easier.

The Premier League will resume this weekend but with half of the final eight quarter-finalists decided, I do feel like lingering on the Champions League and the reality of us actually winning the big-eared trophy.

Our form this season in the league would indicate that facing Manchester United or Chelsea (if they get through) in the next round is probably going to cause us some trouble. Bayern Munich have Arjen Robben in form and Franck Ribery back from injury and despite a schizophrenic season have somehow made their way to the summit of the Bundesliga.

As for Madrid’s conquerors, Lyon are a unit that have exceptional talent and a remarkable tactician at the head of their operations.

Claude Puel produced the masterstroke of the European season against Madrid overnight by pulling of Jean-Alain Boumsong and asking Jeromy Toulalan to play at centre-back. The move freed up Cris to play as a sweeper and clogged the midfield to nullify Real and provide a platform for Cesar Delgado and Miralem Pjanic to exert their attacking influence on the game.

If Puel, who actually served as captain in the Monaco side Arsene Wenger managed all those years ago, continues to show such tactical acumen his Lyon side are likely to cause us real problems should we meet them in the next round or beyond. Lyon are a team to avoid, I feel.

Of the four positions still up for grabs I would put my house on Sevilla, Barcelona and Bordeaux to qualify. Meanwhile Chelsea v Inter Milan is as balanced a tie as you will ever see with the winner likely assume the status of competition favourites.

Barcelona’s qualities do not need repeating while Bordeaux are much like Lyon, guided by a superb manager in Laurent Blanc and possessing the sort of team ethic that saw Porto win the trophy in 2003. Should Arsenal face the French champions there will also be the added novelty of attempting to preventing Marouane Chamakh, a man set to join our club at the end of the season, from having a telling impact on the tie.

Sevilla are probably the weakest of all the prospective opponents in eyes: always hovering around the Champions League places in Spain but only really making an impact in the second tier of European competition with two UEFA Cup wins in 2006 and 2007. They are a good side but if I had to choose the opponent that would offer us the best hope of getting through to the semi-finals it would be them.

I suppose what this is all amounting to is the old cliche that there are no really easy games left at this level of the Champions League. We are certainly a good chance of winning the tournament for the first time in our history this season yet there is still a very long way to go.

But with the quality of teams on show it will be hard not to enjoy every minute of it.

Thoughts?

Have your say on Arsenal’s Champions League chances by leaving a comment.

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34 Responses to “Some thoughts on Arsenal’s Champions League chances”

  1. Mx
    March 11, 2010 at 6:59 pm #

    order of people i’d want to play in rest of champs:
    1. Sevilla
    2. Bordeaux
    3. Bayern
    4. Lyon
    5. Man U
    6. Barca
    7. Chelsea/Inter

  2. SNasri8
    March 11, 2010 at 7:03 pm #

    Have to disagree with you, Sevilla are strong. Jesus Navas would give Clichy a whole mess of problems on that right side, with Fabiano and Negredo getting on the end of anything he puts in. Along with players like Diego Capel and Diego Perlotti in the midfield. While I think their backline would have real troubles with our attacking players, they did win their group comfortably and have yet to fail to win at home in the CL this year.

    I think if you are choosing a team that would be “easiest” for us, have to go with Bordeaux, they have never been this far in the Champions League, and with their rookie manager I think the situation would get the better of them. Chamakh and Gourcuff are quality players but are both young and inexperienced in these type of matches.

  3. Andrew Weber
    March 11, 2010 at 7:15 pm #

    @ Mx – I think I agree with you. Except I’d probably have Manchester United last. I couldn’t handle losing to them again.

  4. Andrew Weber
    March 11, 2010 at 7:20 pm #

    @ SNasri8 – Fair comments about Sevilla and Bordeaux, for sure. There’s something scary about these French teams that I can’t put my finger on, something that thinks it’s maybe best for us to avoid them.

  5. Soham
    March 11, 2010 at 7:23 pm #

    Guess the draw will be something like this:

    Arsenal vs Bayern Munich
    ManU vs Bordeaux
    Sevilla vs Barcelona
    Chelsea/Inter vs Lyon

  6. musher
    March 11, 2010 at 7:35 pm #

    If Inter go through, I would like to meet them. Inter are not as strong as most people thought. In fact, all italian teams are no longer that good. However meeting them would be very unlikely because Chelsea would beat them.

  7. Robert
    March 11, 2010 at 8:04 pm #

    I really dont care who we play in the quarter’s. But if i could choose i’d want to play the team with the best form. If we play with the same intensity or higher as we did against Porto, we’ll most prob go through with games getting less difficult. If we get knocked out, well…. tought luck. But we’ll have all the resources available to definitely win the league. I’m just afraid of more injury problems.

  8. Mikhail
    March 11, 2010 at 8:27 pm #

    French coach and a whole ton of french super stars playing for arsenal since Wenger’s arrival is what makes them so scary we know exactly what they are made of.

  9. Dars
    March 11, 2010 at 8:28 pm #

    It’s simple. We will have to win the champions league the hard way.
    Man United in the Quarter Finals.
    Inter Milan in the Semi’s.
    Barca in the Finals.
    And then only after beating those 3 teams, will the press actually admit how good Arsenal are. Alternatively the press would say how lucky we were…

  10. Fabgooner
    March 11, 2010 at 8:32 pm #

    A dream run would be the following:

    QF: Manu
    SF: Chelsea
    F: Barca

    Of course, we could very easily lose to any of them, but I really do think that we’re going to go far this season, maybe even win it.

    If I wasn’t so convinced that we’ll go far this season, I’d probably want Bayern. Bordeaux have a good team, and Gourcuff is supposed to be amazing, while Sevilla have a good record. Bayern aren’t as good as people think they are. They’re pretty good, but their defence (in the few matches I’ve seen of them) is very poor. We would rip them to shreds.

  11. A Frenchie
    March 11, 2010 at 8:32 pm #

    Any team which try to play attacking football with Arsenal is likely to loose by a significant margin. Barcelona play with an attacking style; however, they have a good dendensive balance, are very good in keeping possession and most importantly their attacks and midfield defends well and very high up the pitch. All this is to say that if we want to win the champiopns league then we have to play, and win, against the best teams – Barcelona in mind.

  12. Kosi
    March 11, 2010 at 9:02 pm #

    My dreams are my predictions: This year we were lucky with the drawings and this luck probably should hold on for one more time (Bordeaux). For the semi-finals history will repeating (ManUtd) with different outcame. The opponent for the finals should be Barcelona which will not succeed again after 2009 and Csec would became to the King of Spain.

  13. SOBIN THE GOONER
    March 11, 2010 at 9:32 pm #

    We can beat any of the team in QF ,if we r at our best.In my choice Bordeaux will be better for us.

  14. Ian
    March 11, 2010 at 9:54 pm #

    After watching Lyon knock out Real last night I don’t think there will be any easy games. If we get United or Chelsea, which will very likely be our fate, then we have to go for it! On our game we can beat anyone and unlike last years semi-final, where we were stuffed by United, this team won’t just capitulate. With some luck and no further injuries we may just surprise evryone?

  15. RipRoaringRed
    March 11, 2010 at 10:50 pm #

    On our day we have the players to win the Champions League but in addition we need a few other things: 1)good refereeing (i.e refs not cocking up or falling for opposition rough-stuff or play-acting) 2) discipline (no needless free kicks, corners or penalties given away, silly yellow or red cards and total concentration defending set-plays) 3) luck (Man U, Chelsea or Barca knocking one of each other out) 4) no more injuries and 5) some anti-panic spray to squirt at Almunia during the game.

  16. vinny
    March 11, 2010 at 11:09 pm #

    bring on madrid

  17. C-Bass
    March 11, 2010 at 11:20 pm #

    In order to be the best you have to beat the best. Bring on United or Chelsea I say. Keep it all English and let us have our revenge while we shake their confidence in the EPL as well.

  18. Ianinja
    March 11, 2010 at 11:21 pm #

    Watched the Madrid game and glad that I won’t be seeing egoRonaldo in the finals. Its best to avoid Lyon as they have a very good midfield quartet, got to say that Toulanlan is a very good dm although he played defense yesterday. A very experienced player we should buy if given the chance. He could impart his knowledge to Song as well as give us another dimension to our midfield. With Toulanlan we could play 4-4-2.

    Anyway enough deviating and back to the issues at hand which is Hull City. The only question would be who is going to partner T.Verm? Nausea sets in when I think of Silves…..*shudders8

  19. unchained
    March 11, 2010 at 11:45 pm #

    As any gunner I pray for a Champions League win but we have to be realistic. We do not have the midfield currently to win this thing I think and the D line still has lot to be desired. The other teams left are sturdier and will play tougher football. It will be a much higher hill to climb from here.

  20. dunga
    March 12, 2010 at 1:47 am #

    hey stop saying we aren’t the same with manu or chelsea just believe that’s what letting us down we should back up our team and say we ain’t affraid of any body then we can win something if u believe in good luck something like that it just wouldn’t do nothing.come on chelsea or manu we can beat any team in the world if we believe.and believe me we gonna win it coz this is our year…..

  21. Pridesfoe
    March 12, 2010 at 1:51 am #

    As weird as this may sound, I’d like to take my chances vs. Lyon. I think they have a glass jaw (bold statement when they just defeated CR9, Kaka and co). They can defend, but at no point they had to attack against madrid. They got the odd goal, and from that point, the burden of attack was on RM and Lyon just had to defend properly. I think that if they have to do the chasing, they are not quite as good. I think they got away with the Madrid series, I don’t see them repeating that feat against whoever they face next. I see them as the weakest link.

  22. radads
    March 12, 2010 at 2:45 am #

    I would try to avoid any english teams (Manu and Chelsea),being part of french speaking community, i think that french teams have more and higher respect toward Arsenal than any other team, to them Arsenal is like their 21st team in the league 1…..its like the french team competing in the PL which is much much stronger than the local league 1, beside that they also consider Arsene Wenger as the best ever french coach of all time, and ofcourse The professor is highly respected in France than any other french coach.Lyon is our best bet to qualify for SF, everything is well balanced between us and them from the full back to attack but Im definetly sure that we will outplay them in the midfield where the real battle would take place, if Cesc will be well fit; As for comparing the attacking side, we are much much stronger, please check how many chances Lissandro missed yesterday and how invisible Govou was during the game.They just beat RM cos they didnt take their chances and to me Higuain was the one to blame not the whole team, he shud have been substituted by Huntelaar much earlier. Bordeaux is the team to beat not Lyon, but still I would take Lyon or Bordeaux agst Sevilla if i have to choose.
    However,The best out of everything is to meet a stronger team in the QF to acquire a good boost of confidence in the SF and F which are manu or Chelsea.

  23. chawanzi
    March 12, 2010 at 6:47 am #

    the gunners are surely going to lift the champions league trophy. but avoiding chelsea or man u will see arsenal in the semi-finals

  24. eddykane
    March 12, 2010 at 9:23 am #

    Victory in the CL for me will not taste the same without having beaten Manu. i am still gutted the fact we managed to loose both meetings when there was no reason we couldnt have won at least one if not both.

    This seasons CL has been the best for a while. but this is where it really begins. I would relish a an early draw with manu. victory over the devils is needed to defeat our own demons after which everything is possible.

    However my biggest worry is not the other teams but whether we can manage to keep our key players fit. am glad cesc is having a break now i would say rest him now a few weeks till he recoverd fully because nasri for all his skill is still not cesc.
    but the real icing on the cake would be to see a fit RVP make it back for the final.
    Happy thoughts

  25. RGJ
    March 12, 2010 at 10:12 am #

    I’d rather win the premiership. Three points v Hull more important right now with the remaining Q/F’ists still unknown. Mind you would love a Barca Arsenal final again with XI v XI this time round. Would prefer to avoid Man U but would love a chance to redeem ourselves aginst those Chelski Sugar Daddy scum. I just can’t stand them and all they represent that’s bad in the game.

  26. ozziearsenal
    March 12, 2010 at 10:34 am #

    don’t care who we meet but the ref is very important the ref we had against porto was excellent he did not allow any shirt pulling ,softening up tactics ,or in england committed challenges ,which allows plays skills to shine and that’s suits arsenal I wish the epl authorities followed suit and ordered english ref to toe the european line of fair play it was very noticeable the respect between the players if a missed timed tackle was made.note when England play in the world cup and if they play as they do in the epl there will be a few Red cards.

  27. TX-Gunner
    March 12, 2010 at 2:04 pm #

    All I want to avoid is Chelski especially when Drogba is playing. Give a match where Arsenal able to beat Chelski when Drogba is playing ?? So bring on any team except Chelski. Pray hard that Inter can hold the lead against Chelski next week. Amen..

  28. munz
    March 12, 2010 at 3:54 pm #

    To be honest, on a good day we can beat any of these teams but on our bad days we could lose just as easy… I’m hoping we are now starting to find the consistency now come the business end of the season… Time will tell.

    I’m worried about our injuries though and think that ultimately will be the deciding factor especially defensively. Silvestre gives me a heartattack everytime he plays for us and is too prone to stupid/careless/random mistakes that look pretty much guarantee to cost us a goal. Especialy with Almunia being paranoid to leave his goal line to sweep up any loose balls.

    Anyway confident and happy with our progress and look forward to the games ahead 😀

    Speaking of which where is the place to go in Brisbane to watch Arsenal games again? Might see if anyone is there this or coming weekends!

  29. KenyanGoon
    March 12, 2010 at 6:33 pm #

    Stuttgart seems to hav been written off so early. i think they may cause an upset.

  30. Moriaso wa Kenya
    March 12, 2010 at 7:14 pm #

    I would wish we get Bordeaux or BAYERN! In any case i have a feeling we will get a chance to avenge against either Chelsea or Man-U somewhere probably in the Semis. A dream final against Barca reckon….And then we REIGN in history-making style!

  31. MoMONEY
    March 13, 2010 at 5:20 am #

    Inter does not scare me. I hope they beat Chelsea somehow. They have some dangerous strikers and hard working midfield but we can match them.

    ManU/ Chelsea/ Barca are the top 3. Bayern could be trouble. Anyone else I would be fine with. So its 50:50. Though I think we can beat Man U/ Chels/ Barca is the situation is right

  32. nygooner
    March 13, 2010 at 11:51 am #

    Don’t want t to face Rooney or Drogba. Don’t care about the rest but those two are SCARRYYY. They will absolutely kill Arsenal like last matches.

  33. Miguel
    March 16, 2010 at 4:26 am #

    It is a shame that Real Madrid got knocked out so early in the Champions League and once again managed to disappoint their fans. This shows that no team can be taken lately this late in the competition. Every match will be sure to be tougher than expected. As for Arsenal, I feel that they have a great squad this year with a strong defense and a phenomenal attack. None the less, both Barcelona and Manchester United are very strong therefore I feel these two teams will face one another in the finals once again. I’m sure that Arsenal will put up a good fight and hope to see a lot of good games. Remember, soccer is a game of inches and anything is possible.

  34. ben
    March 20, 2010 at 6:31 am #

    we r going 2 play against barca but its no big deal.we will avenge our defeat n go all da way trust me

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