Rejuvenated Arsenal shouldn’t be discounted in Champions League
Arsenal’s renaissance under Arsene Wenger shows no sign of returning to the dark ages of August following their progression to the Champions League knockout stage.
The Gunners swept aside Borussia Dortmund 2-1 in an accomplished display that means they have now reached the knockout stage of Europe’s premiere competition in each of the previous 12 seasons.
The result means the North London side are the first English team to make it through their group and takes their unbeaten run to nine games – a run that has included eight wins.
Even Arsene Wenger admitted he was surprised with the ease his side negotiated a tricky group.
Speaking to the BBC, he said: “We were in a difficult group and I am very happy to see where we have come from.
“We came through a very difficult period because we were united and we worked hard together.”
Not only have the Gunners qualified from Group F but they are already guaranteed to top the group with one game to spare.
That means they will definitely avoid fellow group winners Barcelona in the last 16 after exiting at the hands of the Catalan giants at that stage last term.
The Gunners are currently priced at 16/1 to win the Champions League for the first time in their history – exactly the same as Andre Villas-Boas’ Chelsea side who have yet to qualify.
Wenger’s men have been knocked out in the last 16 in the past two seasons but, with several of the European big guns – including all the other English teams – still not guaranteed to progress, backing the Gunners to go far in the competition could be a punt well worth considering.