European dominance the next target for Arsenal

The best in England, but not yet in Europe, that was the self-assessment of Arsenal's footballers yesterday as they sought to put their championship triumph into perspective.

After clinching the Premiership with four matches to spare, following a record-breaking unbeaten 34-match run, Dennis Bergkamp declared: "I think there's so much distance between us and Manchester United and Chelsea. When you look at that everybody has to say we're the best team in the country. We've shown that over the whole season. For us it's important to do it again and I'm confident about that."

Thierry Henry was less dismissive of Arsenal's domestic opponents. "Chelsea have something like 10 more points than they got last season and Manchester United have more, so that means we have to come back even stronger."

But it was the Continental challenge which especially exercised Henry and his team-mates. "We are not at the level yet of Real Madrid or Milan, teams like that," Henry said. "They can win the Champions' League every year. It's the biggest competition in Europe and it will be a big challenge next year."

Patrick Vieira added: "The Champions' League is a target for us. It is the same for every one of us here because no one has won that competition. That is something really special because you are playing against the best. Losing in the quarter-final to Chelsea is still in our minds. We were so close."

Arsène Wenger had downplayed the merits of the Champions' League, dismissing it as "just a cup now" and comparing it unfavourably with league competition when it came to sifting merit. "All across Europe the best teams are top of their championships," he said.

Henry partially agreed. "In the cup things can happen," he said. "You can turn up on a bad day and you can go out. Deportivo La Coruña lost 8-3 at Monaco and they are still in it ­ it could have been the day it was the knock-out stage and they would have been out. That's the way it is. You have to be good all the time on the day and it's not always easy to do that."

Back on the domestic front Vieira added: "Liverpool and Manchester United won the title three or four times in a row. That makes you great and we are capable of doing it. We have the hunger and the determination to do well. We want more trophies."

Bergkamp intends to remain around to compete for them. The 34-year-old is out of contract at the end of this season and a target for his former club Ajax, but he hopes to sign on for another year after enjoying a rejuvenation in form and a greater role than anticipated.

"The football I've played wasn't a surprise for me but physically you never know if you're going to keep it up all season," he said. "I felt fine through the whole season. I hardly missed a training session and just a few games. A lot of players who are coming towards the end of their careers are happy that it's finishing but it's going to be difficult to leave this team. When you really enjoy football, and this is football at the highest level, you want to keep doing it.

"Arsène Wenger asked me what I wanted. I said 'to carry on' and he said 'then we're on the same lines because I think you can do it'." Bergkamp added that he anticipated an early resolution to negotiations.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected