So it is the first time in ten years that Arsenal have gone unbeaten in the Champions League Group Stage and finished top of the group, and will go into the knockout stages full of confidence for a change.
Due to the new seedings format, we are not guaranteed an easier opponent as in earlier years, but should we really fear facing anyone with the new depth and talent in our squad? We could easily be drawn against Benfica, Bayern Munich, Bayer Leverkusen, Borussia Dortmund or Real Madrid, Porto or Copenhagen or Juventus or Sevilla in the next round, but the ex-Arsenal pundit Charlie Nicholas thinks that the Gunners are much improved from previous campaigns.
“When Arsenal are a club with fluency and momentum, they are as good as anybody,” Nicholas said on SkySports. “They’ve beaten Barcelona in the past and they can beat any of the top sides, but can they do it consistently. It’s looking as if they are much tougher. They are much more up for the fight and it is all good news for Arsenal.”
“Arsenal have got their swagger back and were in the groove,” he said. “He didn’t score tonight but Alexis Sanchez, alongside Mesut Ozil, was absolutely fabulous to watch.
“The players that came in also did well. Lucas Perez got a hat-trick, Alex Iwobi scored, Kieran Gibbs basically got three assists and Rob Holding also played well at the back. So it’s all good news and a happy December so far.”
“The squad’s so strong. You’ve got Walcott on the bench, you’ve got Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who has been getting the nod ahead of the likes of Iwobi, who also grabbed a goal. Now Wenger’s got a fabulous headache.
“It’s amazing what a competitive edge does to a group because you don’t need to be the best of mates, but in training, you’ll feel the spirit, you’ll feel the togetherness and you’ll feel the endeavour that you’ve got to be at the top of your game to impress the manager.”
“There are no excuses for Arsenal anymore.” he continued. “You have the money, you have the capacity and you have the quality. It’s up to them to prove it and not just Arsene standing up in his loyal chair and saying I believe in these guys.
“They have to show it but I just feel that with this competitive edge and togetherness, it’s becoming a bit of a realityno matter who we draw?
Considering it was partly a second string side last night, Arsenal were still extremely impressive. So is Charlie Nicholas right that we shouldn’t fear anyone? Or are you one of those particular type of Arsenal fans that still thinks we will bottle it and get knocked out in the last 16?