Arsene Wenger says bad luck and a lack of quality have hit Arsenal’s chances of winning the Champions League in recent years but insists he’s still hopeful that the Gunners can end their European trophy drought under his stewardship.
Despite reaching the final of the UEFA Cup and Champions League during the Frenchman’s tennure, Arsenal haven’t won a continental honour since Alan Smith’s goal helped George Graham’s side overcome Parma in 1994.
Eager to end that run, Wenger spoke with vim and vigour about overcoming stiff competition this year:
“We would love to win it as it has never been done with this club and we have flirted with it a few times.
“I feel in recent years we have not been helped by the draw. We have played Barcelona, Barcelona, Milan and Bayern [in consecutive seasons], so we have had difficult draws. Recently we haven’t had the quality to go through.
“It’s something I miss and I will try to fight very hard to fill my CV with that. But you play against Barcelona, Bayern, Real Madrid – every year they are there with a chance.
“You always think ‘let’s do it every year, one year it will go for you’. Let’s hope it will be this year. The competition is higher than ever.”
Interestingly Rafael Benitez says he’d love to see Wenger, who also has a Cup Winners’ Cup final defeat to his name from his time at Monaco, taste European success at some point in the future.
Speaking in glowing terms ahead of tonight’s game at the Emirates Napoli’s new boss said of Wenger:
“I think he is the best coach in the Premier League. They have signed good players, at this point everything going well for them.
“Wenger is a great manager, a great person, someone who knows the league here in England. He has experience in Europe, Arsenal is always top four and he is doing a great job.
“Hopefully he can win (the Champions League), but another year, not this one.”
For what it’s worth the boss says it’s traditional big guns Barcelona and Bayern Munich who remain favourites for Europe’s top honour although much will depend on the form of Lionel Messi.
“For two or three years Barcelona were above everyone. In October you know if Messi doesn’t get injured they will win it. But you could say today that the favourite is Bayern.
“They are the same team as last year. They have won it. They have bought Goetze on top. As well they know they can do it and have played in the final many times. That might make them a favourite ahead of Barcelona as Messi does not seem to have the same consistent presence that he had for years before.”
Incidentally, it’s 17-years ago today that Arsene Wenger officially became Arsenal manager (here’s his full record). Where has the time gone?6,289 views