Is Arshavin the man to hand Arsenal European glory?

One of the most frustrating aspects of last season was Andrey Arshavin’s lack of involvement in the Champions League. Despite signing for Arsenal in January, the Russian was unable to take part in European games because of his involvement for Zenit St. Petersburg in the group stages of the Champions League.

This season though, Arshavin is available to help Arsenal’s European bid and Arsene Wenger believes this could be crucial to the team’s chances of success and just what they need to upset the odds. The Gunners boss says that the 28-year-old can ‘make the difference’ for Arsenal in Europe.

As we all know, Arshavin has been very impressive since joining the club with many predicting that the current campaign will be a hugely successful one for the former Zenit man. Can this conclude with Arshavin lifting the Champions League trophy though?

Well, much could be decided after tonight’s game with Celtic. Arshavin is set to start for Arsenal at Celtic Park in the first-leg of the Champions League qualifier, a game where many expect his quality to shine through.

Wenger himself admits that Arshavin ‘can turn up at any moment’ and make something significant happen. In fact, he could end up being one of the main differences between Arsenal and Celtic. The Scottish club don’t have anyone with Arshavin’s quality and Wenger knows it.

It seems as though Celtic manager Tony Mowbray knows it as well. The Bhoys boss describes Arshavin as a ‘typical Arsenal footballer’ who is ‘very gifted, bright and intelligent’. Mowbray went on to admit that he ‘sat in awe’ of the Russian while watching his four goals at Anfield last season.

Arsenal are by no means a one man team though and Wenger was keen to point this out. He finished by saying that the target is to ‘develop the team play and not focus too much on individuals’.

Regardless of this though, considering the views on both managers, it seems as though all eyes will be on Arshavin this evening as Arsenal head to Celtic Park.

By Thomas Rooney

Wenger’s European heartbreak: Two European Campaigns with AS Monaco

Arsene Wenger is a fantastic manager, and he has a great record at Arsenal, but one constant in his career is underachieving in European competition. This doesn’t sit well with Wenger, and I can see why, he clearly deserves a European trophy and he has come close on several occasions, not least in 2006 when we were 10 minutes away from winning the Champions League.

This article is a bit of Wenger history. It’s interesting to try to look at some of the more distant past to understand what Wenger has been through in his career, and why he is the man he is today.

His first major managerial post was at AS Monaco from 1987 – 1995. He won Ligue 1 in 1987/88, his first season, got his first taste of the European Cup the following year, reaching the Quarter Finals, but losing to Galatasaray 2-1 on aggregate, the team who were to beat Wenger’s Arsenal in the 2000 UEFA Cup Final.

The matchday programme, from Estadio de Luz, Porto
The CWC 1992 Final programme

Wenger then won the French Cup in 1991. This led to his first European final the following season in the 1991/1992 Cup Winner’s Cup. His Monaco side played well beating teams such as Swansea City, Feyenoord and AS Roma, who we are facing in this season’s Champions League. Monaco faced Werder Bremen in the Final.

The Final was marred by news of the collapse of a temporary stand in Bastia’s French Cup semifinal with Marseille which left 13 dead and hundreds injured.

Otto Rehhagel, who later led Greece to their 2004 European Championship win, was the Bremen manager, and his side won by 2 goals, even though Monaco dominated possession. Wenger had players such as Petit, Djourkaeff, Thuram and George Weah in his side that day.

Wenger went on to a UEFA Cup Final with Arsenal against Galatasary in 2000, which we lost on penalties (I was crying) and a Champions League Final against Barcelona in 2006, which could have been so different.

I guess the point I’m trying to make is that Wenger has had a great career, but until he puts his name on a European trophy he will not feel like he has achieved his potential. He has had the chances and come close, and this must be frustrating, I’m sure he still remembers these times.

Wenger is a competitive guy, and this season he will want to put right his awful record in European finals and bring the Champions League to Arsenal.


UEFA CWC 1992 Final Page

European Cup 1988/1988 Campaign

Cup Winner’s Cup Campaign 1991/1992 Wikipedia

Sidebar image from N. Macca, under Creative Commons Licence