So as we approach our game against Sparta Prague - In a game where we could but more so, should go through to the Group Stage of the Champions League - the media are already questioning our hopes of progressing to the knockout stage, let alone winning the competition. They must have a memory of a fish if they can't remember our inspirational European run in the 2005/06 campaign where we reached the final in Paris and on a another day, we would of won that game at the Stade De France - If it hadn't been down to a crazy German, a shattered Frenchman, a dodgy Spaniard and a Graham Poll-esque referee to cap it all off. But now I can safely say that we are over it and now we will look to go one step further this year.
As you are aware, most if not, all the media is very much anti-Arsenal and will slag off the team at any opportunity they can get so I'd thought that I should write my thoughts on our Champions League ambitions without the anti-Arsenal crap and tell you like it is from a fans point of view.
I'm going to take it that we will win, or at least progress on Wednesday and I will look further ahead to the group stage and beyond because unless we have a big shock on the cards - which I hope we don't - then I could probably put my life on that we will go proceed and be in the draw come Friday.
I believe the main thing to do well in this competition is luck. I know we deserved to get to Paris and our performances were truly breathtaking but to be honest, in 2006 we were a tad fortunate along the way: The group stage draw, who you get in the knockout stage, your ability to avoid injuries and how your players play on the day are just to name a few things we were fortunate in and will need to happen again this year. The other important factor you need to suceed in is a large squad size with alot of depth - how many positions you have experienced cover in. Take a look at the other 'big' teams in the competition: Real Madrid, Barcelona, AC Milan, Inter, Chelsea and Man United. They all each have huge squads and have spent millions this summer to try and add depth to their squad and it has seemed to of worked but only time will tell whether their money has been well spent or not. We now have to compete with these teams and I for one, think we can handle it - Assuming that we have a defence by then. By this rate, we'll be lucky if we have 2 natural defenders playing at the back.
Although we have only added to our squad with the likes of Eduardo, Sagna and I suppose Bendtner counts as another. That is nothing compared to what the other teams have done - Well mostly Real Madrid - Robben, Heinze, Emerson, Henry, Drenthe, Sneijder. But now we know what we are up against and need to get ready for one of the biggest challenges for us in years - Compete with the teams with the best squads with the best players from around the globe and compete in the most protegious competition is Europe.
In my unbiased, but none the less honest opinion, our squad is good enough to win it. Although we have lost the likes of Henry, Campbell, Pires and Bergkamp since Paris '06, players like Toure, van Persie, Eboue, Clichy, Fabregas, Hleb and Adebayor have all improved dramatically and with the likes of Sagna, Rosicky and Eduardo coming in since then, we have a real chance of impressing in this competition and shutting up all the Mark Lawrenson's in the world and proving our critics wrong. We just need to keep that 'togetherness' in the team and get a tad luckier with the injuries - especially in our defence.
So, I ask all Arsenal fans to keep the support going, keep the faith up and cheer on the team all the way on our long journey where we should end in Moscow come the end of May.