Arsene Wenger wants his Arsenal players to be confident and ambitious, but the Polish keeper Wozciech Szczesny has outstripped even the ambitions of the most ardent Gooner by proclaiming his belief that Arsenal can lift the most prestigious trophy in club football this season. Arsenal have already qualified for the next stage of the Champions league, by beating Montpellier on Wednesday, and have stated their ambition to give their all in Athens to try to top the group above the German side Schalke.
I very much doubt that Schalke will slip up at home to Montpellier, who cannot even challenge Olympiacos for a Europa league place. I am not convinced that Wenger will play his best players in the game, because the risks do not match the potential rewards. In fact, if you look at the groups, there is not a great deal of advantage to finishing first.
In group A, it looks like Porto will finish above Paris Saint-Germain, in group C it will be Malaga above AC Milan, in group D it will be Dortmund over Real Madrid, in group E it looks like Shaktar Donetsk over Juventus, in group F it should be Bayern Munich over Valencia, Barcelona and Manchester United will top their groups, with Benfica, Celtic, Galatasaray and Cluj fighting for the second places.
If Arsenal come second, as I expect, we will have to sweat on facing Bayern or Barcelona, but coming first could see us playing Real Madrid, PSG, Juventus or AC Milan, so there is not a great deal of difference. If you are going to win the whole thing, you will have to beat some of the best teams in the world, and you will need some luck along the way (just ask Chelsea). The victory of Chelsea last season is one of the reasons why Szczesny believes that it could be Arsenal’s turn this season.
“I hope we can do what they did last season, but do a little better in the Premier league as well.
“You only take part in competitions to win them. There are fantastic teams in Europe, and ones probably more likely to win it than us. But I’m in this competition to win it, so that’s my ambition.”