One good thing about an unbeaten run coming to an end is that it presents the perfect opportunity to look back at all the happier times, something Arsenal fans will be keen to do after watching back-to-back woeful performances in defeat to Norwich and Schalke.
Yesterday’s defeat represented the first home Champions League defeat against non-English opposition for the Gunners since 2003 when Inter Milan eased to a 3-0 success at Highbury. So let’s look back at some of the memorable European nights at both Highbury and the Emirates Stadium since that game over nine years ago.
Arsenal 2-0 Lokomotiv Moscow – 10/12/03
Sitting bottom of their Champions League group after three matches, this victory marked the completion of a brilliant turnaround for the Gunners. Wingers Robert Pires and Freddie Ljungberg got the goals as Arsenal ended the night top of Group B.
Arsenal 2-1 FC Thun – 14/09/05
This game became more significant mainly because of the events which followed. Dennis Bergkamp’s dramatic stoppage time winner ensured Swiss minnows Thun didn’t snatch a shock point but their goal proved to be the last Arsenal conceded at home in Europe in 2005/06, and one of only three in the entire campaign, as they made their way to the final.
Arsenal 0-0 Real Madrid – 08/03/06
The Gunners recorded their sixth successive Champions League clean sheet as they knocked out Spanish giants Real Madrid. Thierry Henry’s wonder-goal at the Bernabeu two weeks earlier separated the pair going into the second leg but a brilliant performance ensured the North London club progressed.
Arsenal 2-0 Juventus – 28/03/06
Arguably the game in which Cesc Fabregas really arrived. Having been put up against the man he replaced in midfield, Patrick Vieira, all eyes were on the young Spaniard and boy did he deliver. The teenager produced a man of the match display, netting the opener before teeing up Thierry Henry as the ‘Old Lady’ ended a frustrating night with nine men.
Arsenal 1-0 Villarreal – 19/04/06
Perhaps not as grand as the opponents which had gone before but it would be impossible to leave out the semi final victory against Villarreal. Kolo Toure’s goal just before half time proved to be the only goal in either leg as Arsenal signed out of European football at Highbury with a crucial victory.
Arsenal 7-0 Slavia Prague – 23/10/07
An excellent footballing show from the Gunners as they equalled the record Champions League win thanks to goals from Fabregas, Walcott, Hleb and Bendtner.
Arsenal 5-0 Porto – 09/03/10
After losing the opening leg in Portugal, all eyes were on whether Arsenal could overturn a first leg European deficit for the first time in over 30 years and they answered in emphatic style. Samir Nasri’s incredible solo effort was overshadowed by a fine hat-trick from Danish striker Nicklas Bendtner to seal the passage to the last eight.
Arsenal 2-2 Barcelona – 31/03/10
The Champions League dream appeared to be over for another year as Spanish giants Barcelona led 2-0 at the Emirates despite goalkeeping heroics from Manuel Almunia ensuring the scores were goalless at the break . However, Theo Walcott’s pace shocked the visitors as he inspired a late turnaround to seal a 2-2 draw with Catalan born Fabregas also on the score-sheet.
Arsenal 2-1 Barcelona – 16/02/11
Without doubt the best night since the Emirates Stadium opened in 2007. For the second season running Arsenal were paired with the magicians from Catalonia but this time they took a lead back to the Nou Camp thanks to another late comeback. David Villa netted in the first half but Robin van Persie’s smash levelled matters with 12 minutes to play. But the Gunners weren’t content with that and sealed a famous, memorable win as Andrei Arshavin brilliantly swept in Samir Nasri’s cut back with just 7 minutes left on the clock.
Arsenal 3-0 AC Milan – 06/03/12
Under any other circumstances this would be lauded as one of Arsenal’s best European victories ever. But after the heavy 4-0 defeat at the San Siro three weeks earlier, the writing had always seemed on the wall. However, no-one seemed to tell the players that and first half goals from Laurent Koscielny, Tomas Rosicky and Robin van Persie dared fans to dream of history being made at the Emirates but the Italians managed to hold out for the narrowest of aggregate victories.