The Champions League has long eluded Arsenal, but a hallowed hero of north London feels he and his team-mates would make up for that today.
The Gunners became regulars in Europe's premier competition under Arsene Wenger, but a runner-up finish in 2006 was as close as the Frenchman came to clinching the continental crown. That's despite leading the club in their historic 'Invincibles' campaign, winning the 2003/04 Premier League title without suffering a single loss.
Right-back Lauren was a key member of the defence in that hallowed season, but the Cameroonian clearly feels the squad of that season could have accomplished more. That's after suggesting the Invincibles would end that Champions League drought if they were playing in their primes today.
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"Our problem was not knowing how to compete in the Champions League," said Lauren, per the Daily Mail. "Wenger called me aside after a training session once and I thought he was going to rollick me for something. But he said: 'Lauren, why do you think in the Champions League we don't do things as well as in the league?'
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'We just didn't have the experience. And not just in terms of the players but also at club level. If you put the Invincibles in the club as it is now, the institution that it is now, we would win the Champions League."
While Champions League qualification did become a more regular sighting as Wenger's reign wore on, Lauren played seven straight seasons in the competition while at Arsenal between 2000 and 2007. That includes the second-place finish to Barcelona in 2006, so it's not as though he and his former comrades were short of opportunities.
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Some may take umbrage with the idea that a side of two decades ago would be such a sure thing to lift the trophy today, with athletes and tactics constantly evolving. That being said, the Invincibles do hold a place in history for a reason, pulling off the pristine Premier League season that no other team has managed.
Despite a keen sense of competition, Lauren remains an Arsenal fan and backs Mikel Arteta's side to challenge for both the Premier League and Champions League this season. In particular, he hailed the influence of young captain Martin Odegaard and a deeper squad at the Emirates, boasting the experience necessary to tilt the title in the favour this time around.
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