Arsenal should be considered among Champions League favourites

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Particularly since long-serving French manager Arsene Wenger replaced Bruce Rioch in September 1996, Arsenal have become renowned for their attacking ability, admirable ball retention and aesthetically pleasing style of football.

But while the Gunners traditionally enjoy a formidable reputation for sultry skills and pretty passing play, in recent years their lack of fight and ability to match teams who attempt to use physicality to severely disrupt and destroy such a style has led to accusations that Wenger is simply unable to successfully instil a flexible and adaptable system to compete against such tactics.

It is this seemingly chronic lack of a 'Plan B' that has been labelled by many as the chief reason why Arsenal have not been able to win any silverware whatsoever since their last triumph in the FA Cup in 2005.

All of this, however, would appear to be on the verge of changing. Although the 2013/14 campaign is still in its embryonic stages, Arsenal have so far confounded their extensive list of critics by displaying a steely resolve that has seen them record impressive victories even when they are evidently not at their free-flowing best.

Opening day humiliation against Paul Lambert's youthful Aston Villa outfit aside, Wenger's men have showed both nerve and considerable character to churn out positive results which you doubt might have been possible in previous years.

Such a committed resolve has been observed on the continent as well as in the Premier League. During the Gunners' visit to the building site currently masquerading as Marseille's Stade Velodrome earlier this month, a depleted Arsenal side were well below par by their usual lofty standards but still managed to return from France having claimed all three points from the Ligue 1 giants.

Against London rivals Tottenham, Fulham and top-flight foes Stoke City, Arsenal's players were similarly unable to click into their highest gear yet nevertheless showed the strength necessary to win each respective matches.

Although we have seen evidence of this laudable resilience both at home at abroad, it is in the Champions League that I believe they stand to benefit the most. In European competition, with its inevitably intriguing mix of alternative formations and styles, it is essential to be able to adapt in such an impressive manner.

Pivotal to this, perhaps unsurprisingly, is German star Mesut Ozil. The former Werder Bremen playmaker, who became Arsenal's club-record signing after arriving at the Emirates Stadium for £42.5 million from Spanish title hopefuls Real Madrid, provides the Gunners with useful versatility that can be used to simply devastating effect.

When Arsenal are firing on all cylinders, the wily 24-year-old is sure to be at the very centre of the action with his trademark guile and truly formidable ability to lay on a multitude of chances for his teammates. When they are not quite performing at their best, however, as we saw against Hughes' Stoke in North London on Sunday, Ozil will be instrumental in creating goals of a slightly different kind with his deadly set-piece delivery. 

Ultimately, Arsenal may be slightly hindered by their apparent lack of strength in depth if it is not sufficiently addressed when the transfer window re-opens for business in January.

However, if they can keep they can nurse their core group of attacking talent back to full fitness and keep them healthy for the majority of the current campaign, then the Gunners' new-found enviable ability to switch seamlessly between their traditional attacking style and commendable defensive resolve should ensure that they are able to flourish, particularly on the grand European stage.

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