Arsenal face a massive game tonight against Atletico Madrid in the semi-final of the Europa League, and all the players are promising to give their all for Wenger so we can send him off in style, but what if they let him down, as they have in so many games this season?
Atletico are struggling lately and the injuries and fixture congestion is taking it’s toll on the La Liga side, but Wenger admits he is still worried about the crunch match, especially looking at the fact that Atletico rarely concede goals at home, making it imperative that the Gunners get a good lead to take to Spain. “The rules in Europe make the weight of an away goal very strong. That’s why when you play the first game at home, you’re a little bit in a difficult psychological situation because you know that you have to score but as well that every goal you concede can be a huge handicap.
“I would say one of their strengths is that they have no obvious weakness. they are a very efficient team and a team who can use every weak moment of their opponent. Overall I must say that is their main strength. ”
But all the impetus is with Arsenal at the moment, having scored at least three goals in each of their last six home games, with a 100% record, but have they played anyone with the quality of Atletico in those games?
So with the current situation, Arsenal are all fired up, but it is not a foregone conclusion. We still have to turn up and do the business. So what if it all goes pear-shaped and the players let him down? Does he think the season would be an anti-climax if we fail to win the Europa League trophy before he leaves? “Yes, of course, but that’s part of it.” Wenger said. “It will not take away from the fact that people will realise what I said many times: that to qualify for 20 consecutive years [for the Champions League] is not as easy as it looked at one stage. It would really feel like an anti-climax of course. That’s why we want to give our absolute all to have a chance of going to the final.
“I want to do it for [the players], to achieve something with them because I feel they have a special mental quality. My biggest satisfaction would be to be successful together with the group of players that I have. I’ve seen them behave the whole season and they deserve it.”
I’m sorry if I’m feeling a little cynical here, but saying these players have a ‘special mental quality’ after seeing them lose every away game in the League since the turn of the year simply does not give me any confidence in their mental qualities, but I sincerely hope I am wrong.
I am just worried now that all the hyperbole about winning the Europa League for Wenger could quickly turn into a damp squib very quickly if it all goes wrong.