“Arsenal Can Beat Anybody”-Charlie Nicholas
7 December 2016 Sport
Charlie Nicholas says Arsenal can beat anybody after Arsene Wenger’s side pipped Paris Saint-Germain to top spot in Group A in the Champions League.
Needing to better PSG’s result, the Gunners thrashed Basel 4-1 at St Jakob-Park, while the Ligue 1 champions were held to a 2-2 draw by Ludogorets.
Wenger’s men now advance to the Monday’s last-16 draw as group winners, avoiding the likes of Barcelona and Atletico Madrid.
However, they could face Benfica, Bayern Munich, Bayer Leverkusen, Borussia Dortmund or Real Madrid, Porto or Copenhagen or Juventus or Sevilla, but Nicholas thinks Arsenal shouldn’t fear anybody.
“When Arsenal are a club with fluency and momentum, they are as good as anybody,” Nicholas said.
“They’ve beaten Barcelona in the past and they can beat any of the top sides, but can they do it consistently. It’s looking as if they are much tougher. They are much more up for the fight and it is all good news for Arsenal.”
Arsenal made six changes to the side that beat West Ham at the weekend with Lucas Perez coming into the side and scoring a hat-trick.
Alex Iwobi also scored for the Gunners against Basel and Nicholas believes his former club’s strength in depth is providing a real competitive edge amongst Wenger’s squad.
“Arsenal have got their swagger back and were in the groove,” he said. “He didn’t score tonight but Alexis Sanchez, alongside Mesut Ozil, was absolutely fabulous to watch.
“The players that came in also did well. Lucas Perez got a hat-trick, Alex Iwobi scored, Kieran Gibbs basically got three assists and Rob Holding also played well at the back. So it’s all good news and a happy December so far.”
Nicholas added: “The squad’s so strong. You’ve got Walcott on the bench, you’ve got Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who has been getting the nod ahead of the likes of Iwobi, who also grabbed a goal. Now Wenger’s got a fabulous headache.
“It’s amazing what a competitive edge does to a group because you don’t need to be the best of mates, but in training, you’ll feel the spirit, you’ll feel the togetherness and you’ll feel the endeavour that you’ve got to be at the top of your game to impress the manager.”
When asked whether Arsenal can mount a challenge for both the Premier League title and the Champions League, Nicholas said: “There are no excuses for Arsenal anymore.
“You have the money, you have the capacity and you have the quality. It’s up to them to prove it and not just Arsene standing up in his loyal chair and saying I believe in these guys.
“They have to show it but I just feel that with this competitive edge and togetherness, it’s becoming a bit of a reality.”