A fortnight ago, when Arsenal were trailing Bayern Munich 3-1, the advertising boards at the Emirates Stadium seemed to mock Arsenal by displaying the message: "Are you UEFA Champions League level?"
At the time, it was all doom and gloom for the Gunners. They had just endured a patchy form in the Premier League, already been knocked out of the Capital One Cup and the FA Cup, and faced another season without any trophies. Last weekend’s loss in the north London derby didn’t make things any easier.
It was widely believed that Arsenal would field a weakened side in the Champions League rematch, having all but given up hope to progress in the competition. Instead, they played with almost the same team as their last league game against Spurs. One important missing link in the midfield was of course Jack Wilshere, the present and future of Arsenal and arguably their best player.
Even though Bayern knocked Arsenal out on away goals, it was a brilliant performance from the north London side. Not many teams manage to go to the Allianz Arena and win, let alone keep a clean sheet - a feat that’s even more impressive given the recent struggles of Arsenal back-line.
While it was just a single game, it shows promise for Arsenal fans. If any of the big London clubs fail to achieve Champions League qualification, it is Arsenal that suffers the least. Chelsea spent big last summer and, barring another injection of cash from their wealthy owner, would not be able to attract a big name to Stamford Bridge, especially with Financial Fair Play kicking in. Meanwhile, Tottenham Hotspur are all but guaranteed to lose Gareth Bale if they fail to qualify for the Champions League.
Arsenal have the most available cash to spend from the three - a direct result from building a great stadium in the shape of the Emirates Stadium, which is something their rivals Tottenham Hotspur are aiming to do. Arsenal could have as much as £100m to spend on new acquisitions this summer. That’s even without money coming from Champions League.
As ever, there has been talk of another important squad member leaving this summer - in this case Bacary Sagna, which would continue the recent trend of selling the club’s best players. His understudy, Carl Jenkinson, is improving with every game and Arsene Wenger will surely find another diamond in the rough before his time at the helm of Arsenal ends.
While you can’t replace Cec Fabregas with Mikel Arteta or Robin van Persie with Olivier Giroud and expect the new players to play as well as their predecessors, the money is there to spend.
Another matter is whether Arsene Wenger is willing to spend it...
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