Arsene Wenger has challenged Arsenal to prove their hunger for success as the Gunners look to wrap up qualification for the Champions League knockout phase against Borussia Dortmund here Wednesday – with Robin van Persie propelling an emphatic gain of momentum after a poor start to the season.
Arsenal’s fortunes have been transformed after a catastrophic start to their season, which included an 8-2 thrashing by Manchester United, following the transfers of Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri.
Their win over Norwich last weekend was the club’s fifth consecutive league victory, part of an unbeaten eight-game streak that has seen Wenger’s side surge up the Premier League standings.
The Londoners will qualify for the last 16 of the Champions League on Wednesday if they beat their Bundesliga opponents — and Wenger believes it is the sort of test his team must pass if they want to remain part of English and European football’s elite.
“There is a fantastic spirit in the side, and it is a great pleasure to work with the players,” Wenger said. “We have to show we can go very far.
“However, we have some way to go to show this is the right way. We will see at the end of the season.
“I am very positive, but over the coming months we have to show how successful we want to be. I feel the team wants it, and that is what is in front of us now.”
Wenger’s future at Arsenal was a talking point in British newspapers at the weekend after the Frenchman hinted in an interview with L’Equipe that he may consider his position at the end of this season.
Wenger, however, who has two years left to run on his contract, is adamant that he is going nowhere.
“For me, it is a non-story. The club can decide to get rid of me tomorrow morning, but I cannot interfere with that decision,” Wenger said. “I have two more years to go, will stay and that is it.”
Arsenal’s revival has owed much to the inspired form of captain Robin van Persie, who took his tally for the calendar year to 31 goals in 29 games at the weekend with a brace at Norwich.
“Robin is in unbelievable form at the moment. He is putting them all away,” Arsenal’s Wales international midfielder Aaron Ramsey said.
“Full credit to the team, we are supplying him and he is finishing them. We are delighted with the way we are playing and hopefully we can continue that.
Arsenal’s fans could get a glimpse of the club’s future on Wednesday, with Dortmund’s teenage star Mario Goetze expected to spearhead the German outfit in what is a must-win game for the visitors.
Goetze has been strongly linked with a move to Arsenal, with Manchester United also reported to be tracking the youngster’s development.
The 19-year-old scored the winner as Dortmund warmed up for their trip to London with a 1-0 victory at league leaders Bayern Munich last weekend.
Goetze believes the victory over Bayern can be a springboard to an away success against their Group F rivals.
“Now we can look ahead with real optimism,” he said, while playing down speculation that he may soon be gracing the Emirates on a regular basis.
“I am a true Dortmunder and I am happy here, that is all that needs to be said,” he said.