Arsenal out to send message across Europe

Posted by John Cross

Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty ImagesAaron Ramsey has five goals for Arsenal in Champions League play.

No one should underestimate the achievement if Arsenal can clinch qualification to the Champions League knockout stages. Drawn into the "Group of Death" when their backs were up against the wall in August, Arsenal could be just one win away from progressing for the 14th consecutive year.

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They have Marseille in front of them at the Emirates on Tuesday night, having already enjoyed impressive victories over Napoli and Borussia Dortmund. They are already on nine points with the home defeat to Dortmund the only blot on their copy book, having already gained revenge against Juergen Klopp's men by winning the return game.

Arsenal's home win over Napoli was perhaps their best performance of the season when Mesut Ozil and Aaron Ramsey shone and helped mastermind the victory. It may only take one win against Marseille if other results go their way, but it is more likely that they will have to go to Naples needing a result. It would be unthinkable for a team to go out with 12 points, but it is a possibility, and from this group anything is possible.

That is why it makes it so impressive that Arsenal have risen to the occasion, beaten all the other teams in the group and shown their class and experience. It is a clear pointer in my opinion to the fact that Arsenal have got the determination and desire to carry through a challenge for silverware this season. They sit top of their Champions League group, top of the Premier League and are in great form with trophies in sight.

It is so important that Arsenal win a trophy this season, to reaffirm that Arsene Wenger should stay in charge at the Emirates beyond the end of his contract at the end of the season. Wenger wants it to show that he can lead the club into a new era of success, to help convince even the doubters that he is the right man. But also to get the fans believing that the club mean business when it comes to being successful on both the European and domestic fronts.

They make noises about challenging the might of Bayern Munich in the future. But if that is to be beyond just on a financial level, Arsenal also need success on the pitch. If they can come through this group featuring Napoli and Dortmund, it will make the rest of Europe sit up and take notice.

Wenger is also acutely aware that Arsenal will want to win the group to avoid a potentially tough knockout game in the last 16, which has been their downfall in the last few seasons. But more than that, perhaps it will also make people really believe that Arsenal can be major players this season.

Ramsey has scored five goals in the competition so far. In Ozil, they have a player of genuine world-class quality. They have a growing belief and their progression should send a message that, after being Champions League also-rans for too long, they can be genuine contenders.


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