ARSENAL 2 (Jack Wilshere 1, 65)
More than three months into the campaign, the Gunners are still firing on all cylinders.
Who would have thought?
On Wednesday morning (Singapore time), Arsenal walked all over French outfit Marseille as they registered a 2-0 win at the Emirates Stadium to all but clinch a place in the knockout round.
Things look just as rosy on the domestic stage, where they have accumulated a four-point lead over their Premiership rivals at the top of the table. Make no mistake.
Arsenal are looking good. Really good.
But good enough to lay their hands on the elusive Champions League trophy?
Well, let's just say this represents their best chance since they went within 15 minutes of winning it against Barcelona in 2006.
There were times when yesterday's contest looked like a mismatch.
Arsenal never kicked into top gear against Marseille, and they didn't have to.
That they made victory seemed like a breeze in a notoriously tricky competition, without being anywhere near their best, spoke volumes of their ability.
Mesut Oezil's arrival, Mathieu Flamini's return, and Aaron Ramsey's coming of age have given the Gunners a cutting edge they lacked for years.
The reliability of the backline, on this occasion consisting of Laurent Koscielny, Per Mertesacker, Bacary Sagna and Nacho Monreal, provided a solid foundation for the attackers to do damage on the other end of the field.
Jack Wilshere, scorer of the two goals, popped up from almost nowhere to recently squeeze into Arsenal's core group.
Manager Arsene Wenger has cajoled a band of brilliant individual talents into performing as a cohesive unit week in, week out.
They displayed plenty of desire and gumption in their first home group match to pick up a 2-0 win over Napoli.
They showed resilience in the 1-0 away win over Borussia Dortmund at the Signal Iduna Park, their toughest assignment of the phase.
It is how they juggle their ambitions on several fronts in the remaining six months or so that threatens their Champions League success.
How will they cope with fatigue and injuries that progress inevitably brings?
Will they have it in them, mentally and physically, to recover from a bad run of results?
Belief is the key.
Dortmund coach Juergen Klopp said that Arsenal can go all the way if they can avoid defending champions Bayern Munich.
Wenger himself feels that they have a chance if they top their group and get a favourable draw.
It's still all talk at the moment but at least there's optimism.
Arsenal will go through to the next round as group winners if they can avoid an away loss to Napoli in their final game. Even a loss could be enough for them to sneak in on head-to- head record and goal difference.
Chances are, they are already looking beyond that.
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