By Richard Clarke
The Champions League remains Arsenal's version of the holy grail. If you called it Arsène Wenger's obsession then the man himself would not disagree.
The Frenchman led Arsenal to within 13 minutes of lifting the trophy in 2006. But, remember, that was the first year in their history that the north London side had got past the Quarter-Finals. This evening, Wenger's men attempt to put one foot in this season's Semis when they entertain Liverpool at Emirates Stadium in the first leg of the last eight.
Speaking ahead of the weekend, the Frenchman said the describing his Champions League desire as 'an obsession' was "not unfair".
"I want it and, of course, the Club want to have it," he agreed. "It is missing. For me there is only one European trophy. The Champions League is the prestigious one. We have a good opportunity to come back in it now. We were in the Final in 2006 and we can come again.
"I've looked back at that Final. We had the chances to score the second goal to kill off Barcelona.
"We were caught on the goal when they equalised and were a bit unlucky. But I feel this game was there to be taken if we had got a second goal. We had chances to do that. In a Final it is like that. But you don't stop a team who has the quality on a longer term.
"Certainly one English team, if not two, will be in the Final this year. This Club has never won it and it is a big club. But you take Real Madrid, they have invested 575 Euros in the last four years yet they have never got past the last 16. And they are Real Madrid.
"That tells you there is no guarantee. The competition is a cup competition at the top level. You have big clubs like Barcelona who have won it twice in the whole history of the club. It is difficult to win and luck makes the difference."
That said, Wenger is not going to admonish himself (or do something much worse) if he fails to land Europe's biggest prize. At his pre-match press conference on Tuesday the manager was asked if he'd be 'devastated' if he did not win Champions League during his career.
"I don't know," the Frenchman replied. "I will come back just before I die and will tell you how hard it is has been. If you ask me whether I want to win it, I'd say 'yes, of course'. How much? If I stopped my career would I think 'do I commit suicide, because I haven't won the Champions League'. Well I'd hope not.
"Mainly because I really hope I'll have won it by then!"Copyright 2013 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source 2 Apr 2008