Barcelona and Manchester United have already won the Champions League in recent years. Arsenal and Chelsea are recent losing finalists (to the opposite teams – there’s a nice symmetry there). It seems reasonable to assume that Arsenal and Chelsea are more ‘desperate’ to win the Champions League title because they’ve never won it.
Some people think it could have a say on who wins the Champions League semis at the end of April. Not me. Wanting to win has little to do with it, it’s how much you’re willing to give up to win it that counts, along with how good your players are.
Do you remember the Arsenal-Barcelona final? At the end of the game, Barcelona kept plugging away, they pushed themselves more and they got through because they tried. Arsenal were first-time finalists, I’m sure Henry ‘wanted’ to win more than anyone else. But did he do enough?
Do you remember the Chelsea-Manchester United final? Where Anelka was sulking at being subbed in so late, where Drogba couldn’t control himself in the biggest game of his career and where Terry couldn’t keep his feet on the ground, the ultimate professional and the best English midfielder in the Premier League scored, the cocky winger who everyone hates scored, a young Brazilian who had never scored for his team and had been brought on just for penalties scored and an over-the-hill keeper saved the penalty and won the game.
The first group didn’t do enough. The second group did. And that’s what counts.
Do you remember the Liverpool-Milan final in 2005? The second half was all about Liverpool doing everything in their power to win, and Milan not doing enough to stop them.
Are Arsenal or Chelsea better than their rivals? Maybe. Maybe not. But where they need to prove themselves is on the pitch, whether they can sacrifice enough to win on the day. And to make it happen, they’ll have to change and do what they haven’t done before.
Can Wenger make it so? Can Terry and co. get past the final frontier?