Wenger – “We are playing for the destiny of this team”

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There are only so many times you can watch a goal on YouTube, or are there? Either way, it’s time for me to move on as tonight, it’s Roma away and a chance to fire ourselves into the mucky end of the European Cup.

I slagged the new Uefa Cup to pieces in my last post, and although I won’t do anything of the sort for the Champions League, I do maintain that the group stages, which are designed to be loaded in favour of the seeded, bigger European sides, have the capacity to be quite dull. It’s only now, when push comes to shove, that the competition reverts to its old guise as the European Cup and in my view it’s all the better for it.

Last night, Real Madrid were thrashed and Juventus dispatched: if Arsenal can get the better of Roma tonight and Utd the better of Internazionale, then once again England will have four representatives in the European Cup quarter-finals.

Blatter will rant and rave if that happens, but I don’t recall him complaining when Italian clubs were pre-eminent, or Spanish ones after them. If Spain’s finest are being walloped 5-0 on aggregate, whose fault is that? Surely that of the Spanish themselves. It’s not as if Real Madrid don’t have the resources. Anyway, I digress.

Tonight, Arsenal will be hoping to build upon two solid games during which much of our attacking verve has returned, as well as two key players in Walcott and Eduardo. But most Arsenal blogs are right to caution against over-exuberance – Roma will be tougher than W.B.A. and Burnley, of that we can be sure.

Wenger is certainly taking it seriously enough, suggesting his latest team itself is what is at stake:

“What we are playing for at the moment is the destiny of this team. How much do we want to be the best? That is what is at stake. But I am confident. I feel the quality is there and the mental desire is there. It is down to us to show it.”

Big, bold words, but if a side whose desire and quality has been rightly questioned pretty much all season can belatedly kick on and push for glory, then I suspect Wenger will see it as his finest ever moral victory.

It’s a big night all right.

Come on you rip-roarers.


Arsenal since about 1979. Thick, thin and all that.