Europe proves better bet for Arsenal after Roma win

24 February 2009 11:12
He was at it again before Tuesday evening's game, insisting that his team was 'as good as anything in England' and that, if it stays together, nobody will be able to touch it in a few years' time. [LNB]An interesting development, this, because Wenger has rarely been so bullish with his pronouncements, the Frenchman usually preferring to let his football to do the talking. The trouble is, it can't at the moment. Not much is happening out on that pitch to give Arsenal fans hope better times lie ahead. [LNB]Even allowing for three years' grace, which even someone like Wenger would struggle to get, the make-up of Arsenal's squad doesn't look balanced. Yes, there is quality – you can't deny that –but the requisite power and steel for a concerted title assault hasn't yet been instilled by the man in charge. [LNB]Wenger's incredible optimism, therefore, starts to look almost delusional given the evidence seen so far this season. [LNB]So, on a personal level, what a relief it must be to welcome back the Champions League, just when his loyal disciples were starting to doubt. Europe, after all, offers an escape route from the domestic drudgery of a humbling chase for a top four place. [LNB]Not only that, in European company Arsenal have an opportunity to recover some pride just by sticking with the sheer pace and intensity that has become second nature in the Premier League, even when you're not playing particularly well. [LNB]Those physical strengths, what's more, become even more useful against Italian opposition, seeing as Serie A is played at a comparable snail's pace. You could see it straight away at the Emirates. Roma just couldn't cope with the speed of it all. Their collective head was spinning, faced with the home side's verve. [LNB]And the Arsenal lads, of course, are nothing if not young. Confidence might have been low beforehand after several drab domestic displays, but they must have approached this tie knowing Luciano Spalletti's side could only come second best in a high-tempo scrap. [LNB]What a crime, then, that they spurned several opportunities when on top, the lack of a killer touch holding them back once more. [LNB]Nicklas Bendtner, it's true, copped most of the crowd's flak but others in red and white must hold their hands up, too. Emmanuel Eboue, for one, wasted a great chance. [LNB]One-nil, however, still isn't a bad result, not when the Londoners often prove more dangerous in this competition away from home on the counter-attack. [LNB]Good to be back, then, for Wenger and his flock. In truth, the journey probably won't extend much beyond this round but the diversion is welcome as long as it lasts.[LNB]

Source: Telegraph