It was always going to be a disappointment for Arsenal to exit the Champions League at the first knockout stage once again and the fact that our opponents Monaco were a team that most people expected us to beat made that all the harder to take this time.
But with the Gunners on a great run of form and still in with a very good chance of lifting the FA cup trophy for the second year on the bounce, there are plenty of reasons for the Arsenal players and fans to be feeling positive at the moment and that is exactly what Arsene Wenger is asking for this weekend.
The Frenchman told Arsenal Player, “It’s a period where every game has a big importance. The consistency also keeps the confidence very high and, in the disappointment, it’s important that we don’t forget we won the game on Tuesday night.
“Even if it feels like a defeat, it’s still difficult to win away from home in the Champions League. We’ll take the positives to be consistent now.”
The boss knows that the morale of his players could make all the difference as the Gunners head into a crucial period of the season and are embroiled in the most hard fought and widely contested fights for the top four ever. That highlights once again that a place in the Champions League really is a big goal for every club, no matter what the anti-Arsenal media would have you believe.
Just like the fans, the football media seem to overlook Wenger´s achievement in keeping us at Europe´s top table and just take it for granted, but the manager cannot afford to take it for granted and has pointed out that Newcastle are well capable of doing a Monaco on us if we are not at our best.
Wenger also said, “There’s no margin for error at all. We are on the neck of Manchester City while Manchester United, Liverpool, Tottenham and Southampton are not completely out of it.
“We are on a very strong run and I believe we are a much better team than four months ago. That’s what we want: to continue to stabilise our results.”
And on our opponents today, and their new manager John Carver, le Boss reminded the players, “They are not fighting for relegation, they are safe, so I don’t believe the pressure is as big as it could be if he was fighting not to go down.
“He’s in a position where he can do a good job and show that he has the quality that I believe [he has]. The pressure is always big anyway in the Premier League but at least they are not under the pressure of relegation.
“You never know. They don’t have the fear that could sometimes inhibit teams, but I believe the best way is just for us to focus on our performance.”
I don´t expect Arsenal to let this game slip away but the manager is doing exactly the right thing in making sure his players are switched on and in the right mood to keep the positive vibes flowing.