Can Arsenal deliver dazzling football when it really matters, when the likes of Chelsea and Manchester United come to the Emirates -- or even this weekend away at Sunderland?
REUTERS - Arsene Wenger spoke in a calm, almost matter-of-fact fashion after his Arsenal side had torn Braga to shreds on Wednesday.
The 6-0 Champions League victory was sensational and probably even surpassed the heights achieved by Barcelona the previous evening when Lionel Messi ran riot against Panathinaikos.
Wenger did not seem surprised by his team's performance. In fact, nobody should be because it is exactly what Arsenal are capable of.
His faith in a brand of football that is preached from junior level to first team at Arsenal is unshakable despite five trophy-less years.
"We have a big potential but what you forget is that I always believed in this team," Wenger told reporters. "The players that were here at 20 and 21 are now 23 and they are continuing to grow.
"What they did at 20 was exceptional even though some people can't accept that we haven't won trophies." On their day the Gunners are the best footballing side in England and few teams could have lived with them on Wednesday when skipper Cesc Fabregas played a virtuoso role.
The question that remains is can Arsenal deliver such dazzling football when it really matters, when the likes of Chelsea and Manchester United come to the Emirates -- or even this weekend away at Sunderland?
Wenger's attacking options are boundless. Even without the injured Theo Walcott and Dutch sharp shooter Robin van Persie they had a goal threat all over the field against Braga. Mexican Carlos Vela has been a bit-part player at Arsenal since joining as a teenager in 2005, but the 21-year-old scored twice on Wednesday to go with the goal he managed against Bolton Wanderers the previous weekend.
"He is an outstanding finisher who worked very hard this summer and he continues to improve," Wenger said.
Jack Wilshere, just 19, also looks ready to deliver on his huge potential. The English midfielder, who recently earned his first senior international cap, looks bigger and stronger after spending time on loan at Bolton last season.
"Loaning Wilshere out was important because it accelerated his career by being confronted in the Premier League and having tough games," Wenger said.
"Of course, Jack has been educated here and he was already an outstanding player when he left for Bolton. But this is the final part of the education of a player -- to be integrated into the first team and play under pressure."
Ultimately Wenger knows that the success of his mission will be judged on silverware, not the exhibition football they are capable of on a pleasant September evening in north London against compliant opposition. "I'm convinced (the team will win trophies) but I have a problem convincing you," Wenger said. "We have a style at the club that everybody knows and no matter who comes in the football is played the same way.
"I believe we are in the top eight in Europe for our performances year in, year out but we have not won it and until we have won it people will question the way we play."
Date created : 2010-09-16