Can Arsenal win the Champions League this season?

Can Arsenal win the Champions League this season?

Arsenal finally clawed their way back into the UEFA Champions League for the first time since 2017 when Bayern Munich thrashed them 10-2 on aggregate to send them packing from the round of 16, and they find themselves at the same juncture.

The Gunners had finished second in the Premier League to secure a spot in Europe’s most elite club competition, even though they would ideally want to have come in as champions. 

However, their capitulation towards the end of last season meant they had to settle for runners-up, returning to the Champions League after a six-year hiatus.

Arsenal secured favourable seeding, taking a spot as favourites in Group B alongside PSV Eindhoven, RC Lens, and Sevilla. 

Upon their return, Arsenal wasted no time proving their mettle against Dutch giants PSV while entertaining fans who purchased Champions League tickets – keep in mind that tickets to Europe’s most prominent tournament are available for purchase at Seatsnet.com.

It took Bukayo Saka only eight minutes to register his first goal in the Champions League as he pounced on a spill from goalkeeper Walter Benitez before slotting the ball into the net.

Eleven minutes later, the England international turned provider as he set up Leandro Trossard, whose fine strike from the edge of the box doubled the lead.

Trossard had a terrific performance and set up Gabriel Jesus’ strike to make it three. Captain Martin Odegaard rounded up the scoring in the second half to seal a 4-0 win in front of their home fans.

Arsenal delivered a commanding performance and placed a firm grip on the top spot in the group that they would not relinquish.

Despite the strong start to the campaign, they stuttered on matchday two as Ligue 1 side Lens stunned the Gunners in France, claiming a 2-1 win.

Arsenal bounced back with home and away wins over Sevilla before the return fixture against Lens. 

Mikel Arteta’s side knew they had to make a statement after the away loss, and they announced themselves as part of Europe’s elite with a 6-0 thumping of the French club.

Arsenal pressed relentlessly and took control of the game early on. They had the match wrapped up before the first-half whistle. 

Kai Havertz, Jesus, Saka, Odegaard, and Gabriel Martinelli scored as a 5-0 scoreline lit up the scoreboard in the first 45. A late Jorginho penalty put the bow on an emphatic showing at the Emirates.

The win meant Arsenal’s last group tie was a dead-rubber affair as they drew PSV 1-1, securing a place in the knockout round, topping the group and setting up a round of 16 clash with FC Porto.

With Arsenal showing their class in the Champions League, the question on the mind of fans, pundits, and viewers remains whether they can go all the way.

Can Arsenal win the Champions League title for the first time in their history?

Knockout Phase Failures

Arsenal face Sergio Conceicao’s dogged dragons, knowing they are favourites but wary of their record in the knockout phase of their recent Champions League campaigns.

Before the Bayern embarrassment in the 2016/17 campaign, Arsenal had failed to get past the round of 16 in their previous six seasons. 

Standing in their path to the quarter-final for the first time since 2010 is a Porto side that currently sits third in the Primeira Liga on 41 points, five points off Sporting CP at the summit.

Interestingly, Arsenal have never won a match in Porto in their last three attempts, although they have not faced the Portuguese giants in ten years.

Porto came through after finishing second in Group H behind Barcelona and ahead of Shakhtar Donetsk and Royal Antwerp.

Arsenal will fancy themselves to get past the Primeira Liga side, but they felt the same way last season before Sporting CP knocked them out of the Europa League in the round of 16 thanks to a worldie from Pedro Goncalves.

Beyond the round of 16, giants like Paris Saint-Germain, Inter Milan, and Bayern Munich await them on the other side.

Firing on all Cylinders

Arsenal striker Jesus has come under plenty of criticism for his profligacy in front of goal, especially in the Premier League, where he has netted only three times in 16 appearances while missing five big chances.

Despite his shoddy showings in the league, the Brazilian attacker has come alive in the Champions League, bagging four goals and two assists (three big chances created) in five appearances.

His conversion rate in Europe is 29%, while his league numbers stand at a disappointing 9%. This difference in clinicality can determine how far Arsenal go in Europe.

The supporting cast of Odegaard, Martinelli, Saka, and Trossard have also been fantastic and in Havertz, they have a Champions League winner who can spur the team.

Arsenal’s firepower has been overwhelming opponents in the opening stage. They must keep delivering in the knockout phase to make a deep run in the competition.

Defensive Solidity Remains Key

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson once said, “Attack wins you games, defence wins you titles.” Arsenal’s solidity at the back will be crucial in whatever the Gunners want to achieve in the Champions League.

So far, they have been rock solid at the back, keeping three clean sheets in six matches while conceding only four goals. They need to make sure that the rearguard stays tight.

Their defenders could also be a secret weapon on the other side of the pitch, as Gabriel Magalhaes showed in their recent league clash against Crystal Palace.

The Brazilian centre-back rose highest to meet Declan Rice’s corner-kick in the 11th minute before forcing an own goal off Dean Henderson minutes later. 

Arsenal’s prowess on set-pieces has been well-documented. They have scored 13 league goals from these situations this season, more than any other club.

Set-piece coach Nicolas Jover has been earning plaudits for his work on these spectacular routines that have yielded goals.

The former Manchester City and Croatia coach is regarded as a genius within football circles and could provide the Gunners with another weapon for a deep run in the Champions League.

Can Arsenal Win the Champions League?

The Gunners are by no means favourites to win the Champions League but will fancy themselves capable of breaking their round of 16 jinx and making a deep run into the tourney.

Conquering the peak of Europe is a distant dream – nightmares of past humiliations continue to linger, but they seek to banish those pictures and aim for a run to the final four.

With youthful fire and Arteta’s fiery drive, Arsenal can dare to scale to the semi-finals. 

The road ahead is unforgiving. Each coming clash will be a fierce gladiatorial test of will. Will the Gunners succumb to the weight of history, or will they forge their own destiny? Only time will tell.

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