Questions are always asked about Arsenal’s recent lack of progress past the Round of 16, or as some people have taken to referring to it, the Round of Arsenal, in the Champions League. And those questions are usually met with the usual sport-speak about best efforts on the day, giving your all, etc.
Well, this time, when asked, Arsene Wenger took a different tack, and went a little biblical when he was talking about his personal frustrations with the Champions League:
“Look, the last six years we have not come past the last 16,” he said. “They said that God made the world in seven days and this is the seventh day for us! So we have to get a special day.”
Well, in the bible, from what the googles tell me, it says that heaven and earth were actually created in six days, and that the seventh day was a rest day. Which I’d need too if I’d spent the last few days putting places like Stoke, Buffalo, and Omsk on the map. So, that’s probably not the analogy you’ll want to stick with, Arsene; the seventh day is when we’ll want to schedule the victory parade.
I fully get his point, and I see that he was trying to make a joke; he just got his calendar wrong. On a more serious note, he talked about how he feels about the criticism he gets about the lack of progress in the Champions League:
“I am responsible for the results so I don’t want to escape when I don’t meet the expectations of people who love this club,” he said. “You feel guilty because you always question yourself first and your decision making. I think that’s completely normal.”
This is nothing new - he’s said things like this a lot before, but it is good to hear nonetheless. He also says that Monaco jin 2014-15 was his worst defeat because he feels that Arsenal overcommitted and wanted to “make the difference too much in the first game”.
As for this year, he’s more confident and optimistic:
“If we can keep our strength away from home that can help us,” he said, with his side unbeaten away from the Emirates Stadium this season. “Let’s have a good first game then we can finish the job at home. I must say, though, that the best way to have momentum is to go into the Champions League with a good position in the league. Then the belief is high. And so I am convinced that is absolutely vital.”
And, like every good rock band, he finishes with a dynamite number about this year’s competition:
“We are all here to change history. We are here to make history so we have to change what happened before. And make it better.”
There are obviously no guarantees, but it’s definitely good to hear Arsene still feels the pain of Round of 16 exits and wants to change the script.