Everyone is excited about Arsenal’s first Champions League game since 2017, after 6 long years in the wilderness.
The Champions League is where it’s at, where all the best teams in the world are playing. Being stuck in the Europa League, and watching from the sidelines has been tough.
But after an outstanding season in the 2022/2023 season, we’re finally back.
And while the excitement is understandable, many Arsenal fans have got carried away with how we’ll do in the competition this season. Some Arsenal experts have said we’ll reach the Quarter Finals, others have said we’ll even make the Semi Finals.
But that is just delusional.
Mikel Arteta has done a phenomenal job at putting Arsenal back on the map. But that’s been in the Premier League. European football is a completely different ball game (pun intended) and how you perform at domestic level has no bearing on how you do in Europe.
Look at the great Arsenal teams that have played in the Champions League. We had the Double Winning 1997-1998 team, who failed to progress passed the group stage the following season. The outstanding 2001-2002 team failed to get passed the second group stage, and they again won the Double that season.
And then how about the immortal Invincibles team? They only managed to get to the Quarter Finals that year.
So to say we’ll get to the Quarter Finals or Semi Finals is quite frankly, insane.
And the we come to winners of the competition. You’ve got Manchester City, Real Madrid, Chelsea, Bayern Munich and Liverpool taking up the bulk of winners in the last 10 years, and bar Manchester City, all of those teams have history of winning the competition.
And look at the Europa League – previous winners include Sevilla, Villarreal, Atletico Madrid, Chelsea and Manchester United. Those are teams that aren’t exactly tearing it up in their domestic leagues, but they have European knowhow and experience.
We all know certain teams like Sevilla just have a knack for winning games in Europa, it’s in their DNA.
Arsenal have been in the Europa League for the past few years and their previous performances have been knocked out at the Round of 16, Semi Finals and the Round of 32 – hardly outstanding European pedigree.
And Mikel Arteta has limited experience in managing a team in Europe, which is another steep learning curve. He’s doing great things in the Premier League right now, but it still took time for him to reach that level – everything takes time.
So whilst it is amazing Arsenal are back where they belong, patience is needed. We might do well in Europe, but that won’t be this season – especially considering that we are fighting for the Premier League as well.
So sit back, enjoy the ride and let’s see how far we go in the Champions League, but don’t be disappointed when it’s not that far. That time is yet to come.