Arsene Wenger: Arsenal Eager To Claim First Champions League Crown
Arsene Wenger says Arsenal's desire to win the Champions League is “immense” – but the Gunners boss insists his side must put in the hard graft to stand any chance of getting their hands on the trophy.
Arsenal have never managed to add the Champions League to their trophy cabinet, despite enjoying huge domestic success.
The closest they came to winning the most prestigious club tournament in Europe was during the 2005/06 season, when they lost 2-1 to Barcelona in the final at the Stade de France.
“This drive (to win the competition) is immense. It has never been done at Arsenal and we were very, very, very, close,” Wenger said.
“On the other hand, I have been long enough in the job to know you have to be realistic and know that you have to put hard work in.”
Arsenal were favourites to progress from their last-16 tie against French club Monaco last season, but were knocked out by the away goals rule after an aggregate score of 3-3.
Ahead of Wednesday night’s Champions League opener with Croatian champions Dinamo Zagreb, Wenger is keen for his side to show they have learnt from their mistakes.
“If we missed one game last year, then it was our home game with Monaco. We were not patient enough and we wanted to make the difference in the first game,” the Frenchman added.
“We know we have some way to put that right, that is a regret of the season last year. We know as well that we can show that we have learnt from that.”
Arsenal have to play four successive away games over the next 10 days, beginning in Zagreb, and Wenger concedes he may have to shuffle his pack in order to maintain freshness in his side.
“It is more the global programme we have to absorb in the next weeks, rather than one game,” Wenger said.
“I know the same team cannot play every single game over the next weeks. I try to keep the balance right and give a little breather to players who need it.”