Arsenal hopes lie with new signings

ESPNSTAR.com's Kelvin Tan takes a look at the squad Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has assembled for their UEFA Champions League campaign this season.

Can they understand each other?

Fans of the North London club had to endure a nail-biting wait to find out if their club would actually make it into the competition itself, as the Gunners had to hold off a decidedly determined Udinese over two legs, to ultimately triumph 3-1 on aggregate after two tense encounters in the Emirates and the Stadio Friuli.

However, with far more pedigreed opposition lying in wait in the group stages of the Champions League, the question is- have Wenger's group of men (and boys) got enough to make it through to the knock out stages, much less win the "cup with the big ears" itself?

If that question had been asked less than a month ago, in the aftermath of the departures of former club captain Cesc Fabregas, and wing wizard Samir Nasri, as well as after horrific showings in Arsenal's defeats to Manchester United and Liverpool, few would have bet on the Gunners making it even past the group stages.

Wenger would have certainly hoped for a more forgiving draw in at the Grimaldi Forum in Monaco, especially after being grouped together with the likes of reigning Bundesliga champions Borussia Dortmund, Greece's Olympiacos, and compatriot club Marseille.

Arsenal will certainly have to play at their best if they hope to get out of Group F unscathed, especially with a Jurgen Klopp-led Dortmund looking lean and hungry for European success after winning the Bundesliga at a canter last season.

While Olympiacos may not be viewed as a real threat, the challenge of travelling to the boisterous Karaiskakis Stadium could represent a banana peel to the more ill-experienced members of this Arsenal side.

Marseille, on the other hand, present an interesting proposition for Wenger's squad, as the two-time winners of the competition are looking to regain their pride in Europe.

What is particularly interesting that the Ligue 1 side were more dismayed at drawing Dortmund than having to play Arsenal. Marseille manager Didier Deschamps admitted as much, saying to UEFA.com: " I would have been happier if we hadn't got Dortmund. It's a very tight group - anything can happen."

However, it's not all doom and gloom for the Gunners, especially in light of their last-minute spending spree in the summer transfer window. The North Londoners were busy on the final day of the transfer window, signing Per Mertesacker, Andre Santos, Mikel Arteta, Yossi Benayoun and Park Chu Young, adding much needed experience and steel to their decidedly weak spine in defence and central midfield.

In addition, Wenger does boast a few aces up his sleeve, with young talent like Emmanuel Frimpong, Ryo Miyaichi, and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain ready to stake their claims for a first-team place.

The trio have the potential to set the Champions League alight, should Wenger decide to roll the dice on these raw but exciting talents, and this could mean the difference between success and failure in what will be a very competitive competition this season.

Wenger himself is in no doubt the fresh faces will help lift a squad which was severely stretched as they aim to secure qualification for the lucrative group stages at the expense of domestic results.

"The Champions League had a big impact on our performances in the Premier League," the Gunners boss said.

"We were disturbed by two things - players not with us and as well by the fact that the games against Udinese had an impact against Liverpool and United.

"Now, we now have a big test against Dortmund on Tuesday night."

With the pressure on the Frenchman piling on after their domestic defeats to Liverpool and Manchester United, question marks will certainly be raised about his future should Arsenal slip up against Borussia Dortmund, and for his sake, as well as their own, the Gunners' summer signings need to step up and be counted!



comments powered by Disqus

Most Popular News

News & Update