It looks like Chelsea boss Andre Villas-Boas has more faith in Arsenal’s squad than their own manager does. Villas-Boas said he believes that Arsenal, one of Chelsea’s fiercest rivals, can overcome their 4-0 ass-kicking in Italy at the hands of a mediocre AC Milan side and progress to the next round of the European Champions League. I don’t know if he’s prepared to put money on it, but it’s his opinion and he’s entitled to it.
The return leg takes place in the friendly confines of Emirates Stadium on Tuesday March 6th and Chelsea’s Portuguese manager said Arsenal is capable of wiping out the 4-0 deficit in the round-of-16 tie. However, history says it’s not going to happen. No team has ever advanced in the money-grabbing Champions League tournament after falling behind by four goals to nil.
But while Villas-Boas is showing an optimistic attitude, Arsene Wenger is being defeatist and providing a complete lack of leadership by saying his team’s finished in the Champions League this year. His statement is realistic and likely going to be proven true, but it sure as hell isn’t any way to motivate players and fans for the second leg.
According to Bettor.com, Wenger was quoted after the Milan humiliation saying that there’s no possible way his team can turn around the 4-0 score line and keep going on the way to the Champions League Final. Well if Milan was able to win 4-0 at home, it’s surely not impossible for Arsenal to equal it and do the same at home is it? These are the types of questions Wenger should be asking the press and his players leading up to the second leg.
Football teams have come from behind when trailing by four goals in the past, perhaps not in the Champions League, but in other leagues. Wenger should know this first hand since his team blew a four goal lead to Newcastle just last season and had to settle for a 4-4 draw. You’d think that Wenger would be finding as many examples as he can to at least give his players some hope to hang onto.
Why should fans spend their money on tickets if Wenger’s already given up? Leadership comes from the top and when players see their manager being so pessimistic it’s easy for them to adopt the same poor attitude. Anyway, Villas-Boas told reporters that Arsenal can achieve the impossible if they score early in the next game. But it doesn’t really matter if they score early, late, or in the middle of the match, the fact is they need four goals.
He said that anything can happen in football and the impossible often takes place when you least expect it. Villas-Boas said an early goal could get the emotions running high and the fans will get behind the team. This could result in the unexpected happening. He didn’t really give a good example, but Villas-Boas said when he was managing Porto they took a 5-1 lead into the second leg of a Europa League tie against Valencia and ended up losing the game 3-2. That’s still a 7-4 win on aggregate though. He said his side was lucky in that game however and could have lost by a bigger margin,
Neutral football fans will tune into the game to see if Arsenal can indeed pull off a historical Champions League comeback and most Arsenal supporters will be cheering their team on regardless of what Wenger said. Love him or hate him, comments like, “Let's be realistic, we don't play in a dream world. There may be two per cent or five per cent chance statistically, but realistically we're out of this competition,” should be kept private and not broadcast for the world to hear, no matter how accurate they may be.
It’s doubtful that Arsenal can come back and dig themselves out of their hole, but if there’s anybody out there who should be encouraging players not to give up hope, it should be the club’s manager. There’s no reason or need to admit defeat to the rest of the world until you’re officially out of it.