Arsenal’s Top Five UCL Campaigns
The most coveted trophy in North London is the Champions League, as both Arsenal and Spurs have never laid their hands on it. Arsenal have come close many times, eventually getting knocked out by superior opponents. Considering the present scenario at Arsenal, a nice trip down the memory lane to glory days is just what Arsenal fans need. In this article, we will take a look at the five most successful campaigns of Arsenal in the Champions League.
#5 Quarter-finals – 2003/04
In the same season in which they won the league without losing a game, Arsenal were considered a prime contender for the UCL. Arsenal had a disastrous start to their UCL campaign as they picked just one point out of their first three group stage fixtures. However, they bounced back in a remarkable fashion by winning the three remaining games and topping their group.
In the round of 16 encounter, Arsenal outplayed Celta Vigo but lost to Chelsea in the quarter-final. Arsenal’s 2009-10 campaign also followed a similar trajectory. But their run in 2003/04 CL overtakes their 2009/10 campaign, as they endured a heavy defeat against Barcelona in 2010.
#4 Quarter-finals – 2007/08
Arsenal finished fourth in PL 2006/07, prompting them to play a qualifier against Sparta Prague to play in the Champions League. They qualified with a comfortable victory and came second in a group comprising Sevilla, Slavia Prague and Steaua Bucuresti.
In the round of 16, they were billed as the clear underdogs against defending champions AC Milan. The first leg at Emirates was drawn 0-0 and all odds were against Arsenal to progress. In the second leg, Fabregas scored a stunner and Arsenal became the first-ever English side to win at San Siro. They were knocked out by Liverpool in the quarter-finals, but 2007/08 was a memorable season for Arsenal in the Champions League.
#3 Quarter-finals – 2000/01
The UCL format in 2000/01 made it doubly tough for any team to reach knockouts, as there were two group stages. Arsenal topped the first group stage comfortably as they lost just one game. In the second group stage, they were drawn alongside German champions Bayern Munich and French heavyweights Lyon.
However, they did progress as runners-up in group stage 2, despite a 4-1 defeat against Spartak Moscow. In the quarter-finals, they were beaten by eventual finalists Valencia to end their hopes of Champions League success.
#2 Semi-finals – 2008/09
In 2008/09, Arsenal progressed to the group stage of UCL after a 6-0 aggregate victory over Dutch club Twente. They finished second in the group stage despite notching up two huge victories over Porto and Fenerbahce. A tricky fixture against Roma awaited in the round of 16 which Arsenal eventually won on penalties.
Villarreal were pushed aside comfortably in the quarter-finals, setting up a blockbuster semi-final clash with Manchester United. United won the first leg at home by a slender margin, thus providing Arsenal with the chance of a comeback. However, a terrific 40-yard free-kick from Ronaldo and a wonderful counter-attack goal ended all hopes of an Arsenal victory.
#1 Runners-up – 2005/06
Arsenal enjoyed a terrific group stage in 2005/06 UCL, as they progressed to the knockouts by dropping just two points. In the first knockout round, Arsenal faced the most successful European outfit of all time, Real Madrid. In the first leg, Henry’s wonderful goal helped Arsenal became the first English outfit to win at the Bernabeu.
The return leg was drawn, but Arsenal progressed to face Juventus in the quarter-finals. A 2-0 victory at the Emirates followed by a 0-0 draw in Turin ensured a semi-final clash with Villarreal. Once again, Arsenal won by a narrow margin, setting up a final against Barcelona in Paris. They lost the final heartbreakingly despite taking the lead.