Arsenal fans can be forgiven for thinking itÂ’s Groundhog Day again when the draw for the group stages of the Champions League was announced yesterday (27.8.15)
The Gunners have drawn their nemesis Bayern Munich, along with Greek Champions Olympiacos and the CroatianÂ’s Dinamo Zagreb; there will be no room for slip-ups if they are to progress to the last 16.
You could almost hear the collective sigh in north London when Bayern was pulled out of the glass bowl
Expectations seem fairly well managed as many Arsenal fans are already expecting to bow out at the last 16 stage but letÂ’s look a bit more closely at how and why Arsenal failed in their last two attempts to progress beyond the last 16 of the competition
Many superlatives would spring to mind if I asked you to describe Bayern
They play exciting football, score plenty of goals, they have world class footballers and their fans are some of the best to have ever visited the Emirates
Yes, our fans will point to the fact that we came close to overturning a 2-goal deficit a couple of years ago but in truth the tie was lost in that first leg when Vermaelen had his worst ever game in an Arsenal shirt (a performance in which many GoonersÂ’ believe he never recovered from.
Arsene played him out of position in that game)
Interestingly, Arsenal have not lost to the Germans in their two visits to the Allianz Arena, but it could be said these were effectively dead rubbers
The Gunners seem to have a knack for glorious failure
In 2010-11 they were battered 4-0 in Italy by Milan in the last 16 and then played brilliantly at home winning 3-0, almost overturning the deficit
The following year they lost to Bayern painfully on the away goals rule, but as I already said the game was a dead rubber in the second leg
The year after this the Gunners were again put to the sword by Bayern who sealed the game in the first leg with a 2-0 victory at the Emirates
The 1-1 draw in Munich was irrelevant
Last season Arsenal managed to mess up top spot in the group stages despite being odds on to win with a couple of matches left
This left them with the prospect of drawing one of the giants in the last 16
When Monaco were pulled out the hat Arsenal fans were talking as if the club had a bye into the quarter finals
Evidently so did the players as they put in one of their worst performances ever in the Champions League, losing 3-1 at home again leaving themselves a mountain to climb
Again the glorious failure tag kicked in as the Gunners won 2-0 away losing the tie on the away goals rule
It was the fifth straight year that Arsenal had failed to make the last 16.
Arsene will believe that his Arsenal can top the group
I also believe that Arsenal can top the group, but they wonÂ’t as the tendency to self-implode will more than likely engulf the Arsenal team
I really hope the boys prove me wrong
It is time for them to do Arsenal fans proud in the Champions League
If the Gunners achieve top spot they will need to be at their best against the Germans and avoid being complacent against the so-called minnows in the group
Olympiacos wonÂ’t mind playing the Gunners as they have beaten them on their last three occasions on home soil.Arsenal have competed in the Champions League every year since they won the domestic double back in 97-98, which in itself is a fantastic record
They reached the final in 2006 and with a Sol Campbell goal they were only 14 minutes from a famous victory over Barcelona, having played with 10 men since the 18th minute, until EtoÂ’o and Belletti scored twice in four desperate minutes
If Arsene can get it right the Gunners can go all the way again
How far do you think Arsenal will go in this yearÂ’s Champions League competition?
Writer Fevzi Hussein can be followed on Twitter @fevzihussein.
Source : DSG