By Richard Clarke
Arsène Wenger believes that even a Champions League exit on Wednesday will not halt the progress of his team.
Arsenal go into this week's Knockout Round second leg tie trailing 1-0 to Ronald Koeman's highly-efficient PSV. Wenger is painfully aware that, should the Dutch side advance, it will consign his team to a second successive season without silverware. However the 57-year-old argues his emerging young team are "a machine" whose development will be hard to stop.
"It is fair to say the season, in terms of silverware, hangs on this game," said Wenger before the weekend game against Reading. "But we want to finish as high as we can in the Premiership, qualify again for the Champions League, and always get as far as we can in this season's Champions League.
"These have always been the two main priorities. The two domestic cup competitions were a good opportunity. It was disappointing to take two punches in the last few days because we got to the final part of both games well and did not think we deserved to lose either - but I can take a lot of positives.
"The season is not over even though everyone is rushing us out of the Champions League at the moment. It would be a big blow if we go out, but it would not stop the Club from moving forward.
"This team is a machine which nothing will stop in terms of progress. What I have seen of the youngsters so far, convinces me of that.
"In a way the team has already delivered in the Carling Cup Final. I feel that this season we were unlucky because we were without Thierry Henry for a long time and William Gallas too. That punished us in one way but on another side it helped us to make a lot of progress.
"The Carling Cup perhaps lost us the FA Cup I feel but as well I have to pay tribute to the Carling Cup because it helped me to discover players that I would not have discovered otherwise."
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 5 Mar 2007