You can’t blame Arsenal fans for hardly getting excited about the Champions League these days.
After all, the Gunners have crashed out of the last-16 of the competition in the previous six seasons - coming nowhere near their maiden win.
However, just over 10 years ago, Arsenal were on the verge of winning Europe’s elite competition after reaching the final against Barcelona in Paris.
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Last night, Arsenal returned to the very same city where they narrowly lost 2-1 in 2006 after their opponents scored twice in the final 14 minutes of the match. This time around, Arsenal managed a 1-1 draw with Paris Saint-Germain to kick off their 2016/17 Champions League campaign with a satisfactory result.
But can Arsenal emulate what they did all those years ago? Well, Wenger has insisted that his side are better equipped to progress further in the competition.
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“I was used to playing with younger squads because, when you build a new ground like the Emirates Stadium, you don’t have the resources,” he said.
“Now I have a team with more experienced players. There are exceptions, obviously, but the majority of the squad is basically between 24 and 30 in age. That’s where you have a good combination of physical strength and experience.
“They are not 19 or 20 years old. This is one of my strongest squads, certainly. And certainly one of the oldest as well. I always believed we had a chance, even when we had young players but, certainly, I haven’t had a squad of players [like this] for a long time; full of players who have enough experience to compete.”
So, we’ve compared Arsenal's starting XI for their Champions League clash against PSG to the starting XI for the final back in 2006 - and there’s a big difference.
2006: Jens Lehmann
2016: David Ospina
While Lehmann was a little crazy, he was a decent goalkeeper for the Gunners. It’s a shame he only lasted 20 minutes in the Champions League final before he was sent off for a tackle on Samuel Eto’o.
Ospina was magnificent against PSG last night but probably isn’t capable of playing consistently for Wenger’s side.
2006: Emmanuel Eboue
2016: Hector Bellerin
Eboue was only 23-years-old when he started the Champions League final but his career has gone downhill since leaving the Emirates. Bellerin is only 21, and looks to have a very promising future ahead of him.
2006: Kolo Toure
2016: Shkodran Mustafi
Many people will forget just how good Toure was for Arsenal. The Ivorian made a massive 326 appearances for the north London club during his seven seasons at the club.
Mustafi is a new addition from Valencia and hasn’t had time to prove himself yet - although question marks will surround his marking for Edinson Cavani’s goal last night.
2006: Sol Campbell
2016: Laurent Koscielny
It was Campbell’s goal that looked to win the Champions League for Arsenal before their collapse. He was a terrific servant for the club.
Koscielny is really starting to receive the plaudits he deserves for his excellent defensive ability - but he’s got a little way to catch up with Campbell.
2006: Ashley Cole
2016: Nacho Monreal
Cole may not be liked amongst Arsenal fans but he was brilliant for the club.
Monreal is really starting to prove himself as a solid left-back at the Emirates, but this one is a fairly easy choice.
2006: Gilberto Silva
2016: Francis Coquelin
Silva was criminally underrated as a defensive midfielder at Arsenal with the Brazilian rarely getting the credit he deserved. While Coquelin has proved himself he be fairly handy in that role, he’s still got a bit to learn.
2006: Cesc Fabregas
2016: Santi Cazorla
Two impressive Spanish midfielders but Fabregas has to be given the nod thanks to his more impressive career. He has established himself as a brilliant midfielder at Arsenal, Barcelona and Chelsea.
2006: Alexander Hleb
2016: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
This is a tough one. Hleb only played for the Gunners for three seasons, managing just seven league goals in the meantime.
Chamberlain has failed to fulfil his early potential after his move from Southampton back in 2011. Eight goals in 104 league appearances is a shocking return.
2006: Robert Pires
2016: Mesut Ozil
Pires was the player that had to be replaced for Manuel Almunia after Lehmann’s sending off but what a player he was for Arsenal. His ability to reach double figures in terms of goals means he is more of an attacking threat than Ozil.
2006: Freddie Ljungberg
2016: Alex Iwobi
There’s no competition here. If Iwobi can have half the Arsenal career than Ljungberg had, it will be mightily impressive.
2006: Thierry Henry
2016: Alexis Sanchez
Sanchez may be Arsenal’s star player in the modern day, but he simply can’t compare to Henry. The club’s record goalscorer is a legend at the club and Sanchez will never be able to live up to that.
So, although Wenger claims he has more quality in this squad than he has done in recent years, it appears his team is still a long way off their team from the 2006 Champions League final.
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