Arsenal in Europe: Six great away-days under Wenger
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Arsenal’s 2-0 win over AC Milan at the San Siro in the last 16 of the Europa League was one of their best in recent memory.
This season is the first time they have not competed in the Champions League under boss Arsene Wenger, during his two-decade reign, but success in the second-tier competition this year will see them return to the European elite for 2018/19.
Whether or not they can manage that and the long-serving Frenchman remains at the helm in the face of growing pressure from frustrated supporters remains to be seen.
But for now, we reflect on six of the best Arsenal European away-days under Wenger here.
March 8, 2018: AC Milan 0 Arsenal 2
The formbook goes out of the window as under-fire Arsenal produce another memorable European away win at the San Siro.
Beaten in their four previous matches in all competitions, by FK Ostersunds, Manchester City (twice) and Brighton by an aggregate score of 10-2, the Gunners were given little chance against an AC Milan side unbeaten in 13, having not conceded in six matches.
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With pressure mounting on long-serving boss Arsene Wenger once again, with his side 13 points off a top-four spot in the Premier League, they take the lead on 15 minutes as Henrikh Mkhitaryan finds the net for the first time since his move from Manchester United with a deflected shot.
And Welsh international Aaron Ramsey doubles the advantage with a composed finish from Mesut Ozil’s sublime through ball in first-half stoppage time.
Milan have their moments, but Arsenal give a disciplined defensive display to give themselves a great chance of progressing to the Europa League quarter-finals, keeping alive the dream of winning the competition to earn a place in the Champions League for 2018/19.
Arsenal: Ospina, Chambers (Elneny 85), Mustafi, Koscielny, Kolasinac (Maitland-Niles 62), Xhaka, Wilshere, Ramsey, Mkhitaryan, Ozil (Holding 80), Welbeck. Unused subs: Cech, Iwobi, Nelson, Nketiah.
March 13, 2013: Bayern Munich 0 Arsenal 2
The odds were heavily stacked against Arsenal following a 3-1 home defeat in the first leg of their last-16 tie with the German League champions-elect.
But Olivier Giroud stabbed home Theo Walcott’s cross in only the third minute at the Allianz Arena, after Aaron Ramsey and Tomas Rosicky combined in the build-up, and Laurent Koscielny headed home in the 85th minute to level the aggregate scores.
Inbetween times, Lukasz Fabianski saved well from Toni Kroos and Luiz Gustavo fired over from a corner, while Thomas Muller shot into the side netting.
Kroos and Gustavo sent other attempts wide in the second half, while Fabianski denied Arjen Robben with a superb save, before Giroud and Gervinho went close for Arsenal.
Koscielny squeezed home a header from Cazorla’s corner to set up a frantic search for a decisive third goal in the closing minutes, but Bayern held on and would lift the silverware at Wembley two months later with a 2-1 win over fellow Bundesliga outfit Borussia Dortmund.
Bayern would beat Arsenal 3-1 on aggregate in the last 16 a year later, then humble them 10-2 at the same stage in 2017.
Arsenal: Fabianski, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Jenkinson, Gibbs, Rosicky, Arteta, Ramsey (Gervinho 72), Cazorla, Giroud, Walcott (Oxlade-Chamberlain 72). Unused subs: Mannone, Vermaelen, Diaby, Coquelin, Arshavin.
March 4, 2008: AC Milan 0 Arsenal 2
After beating Sevilla (3-0), Sparta Prague (7-0) and Steaua Bucharest (2-1) at Emirates Stadium to top their group with 13 points, Arsenal were drawn with the Rossoneri in the last 16.
The first leg in north London ended goalless and the return at the San Siro was just as tight, with Cesc Fabregas clearing Paolo Maldini’s header off the line and then hitting the crossbar himself in the first half.
Philippe Senderos and Emmanuel Eboue wasted great chances after the restart, while Manuel Almunia tipped Andrea Pirlo’s shot wide and Alexandre Pato saw a deflected shot fly inches wide as the scoreline remained blank until six minutes from time.
Spanish midfielder Fabregas then fired home a low shot from 30 yards to deservedly put Arsene Wenger’s men ahead and Emmanuel Adebayor turned home Theo Walcott’s injury-time cross as Arsenal became the first English team to beat Milan at home.
The quarter-final draw then pitted the Gunners with Premier League rivals Liverpool, who had won the competition in 2005, and after a 1-1 draw at home, they looked to be heading through on away goals when Adebayor made it 2-2 at Anfield.
Steven Gerrard’s 86th minute penalty put the Reds back in front, though, and Ryan Babel added a fourth to end Arsenal’s hopes of a spot in the last four.
Arsenal: Almunia, Sagna, Senderos, Gallas, Clichy, Eboue (Walcott 72), Diaby, Fabregas, Hleb (Silva 90), Flamini, Adebayor. Unused subs: Lehmann, Hoyte, Denilson, Van Persie, Bendtner.
February 21, 2006: Real Madrid 0 Arsenal 1
Having topped a Champions League group that included FC Thun, Ajax and Sparta Prague with 16 points, Arsenal were handed a last-16 meeting with nine-time winners Real.
And a stunning individual effort from Thierry Henry ensured an historic victory at the Bernabeu, as the Frenchman shrugged off four tacklers to steer a low shot past Iker Casillas seconds into the second half.
David Beckham wasted the home side’s two best chances in the first half, but Henry and Jose Antonio Reyes could have added to the tally for an understrength Arsenal as they became the first English side to beat Real in the Spanish capital.
Substitute Abou Diaby saw a last-minute effort saved by the feet of Casillas and a goalless draw in the second leg was followed by aggregate wins over Juventus (2-0) and Villareal (1-0) as the Gunners reached their first European Cup/Champions League final, where they met Barcelona.
Goalkeeper Jens Lehmann was sent off after only 17 minutes in Paris, but Sol Campbell headed 10-man Arsenal in front before half time.
Henry wasted a great chance to double their lead, though, and Samuel Eto’o levelled on 76 minutes, before substitute Juliano Belletti broke Arsenal’s hearts with a winner just four minutes later.
Arsenal: Lehmann, Senderos, Eboue, Toure, Ljungberg, Hleb (Pires 76), Fabregas (Song 90), Flamini, Silva, Reyes (Diaby 80), Henry. Unused subs: Almunia, Djourou, Walcott, Lupoli.
November 25, 2003: lnter Milan 1 Arsenal 5
With only four points from their first four Group B matches in the Champions League, Arsenal headed to the San Siro needing a win.
Having lost 3-0 to Inter at Highbury, they took the lead midway through the first half through Thierry Henry, only for Christian Vieri to level eight minutes later with a shot that deflected in off Sol Campbell.
Henry set up Freddie Ljungberg to tap in from close range and restore Arsenal’s lead early in the second half, then scored a stunning solo effort five minutes from time to make it 3-1, racing away and beating Javier Zanetti before firing past Francesco Toldo.
Edu sidefooted home a fourth and Robert Pires added late gloss, before a home win over Lokomotiv Moscow sent them through to the last 16.
But after beating Celta Vigo (5-2 on agg), Arsenal were knocked out in the quarter-finals by Premier League rivals Chelsea after an 87th minute goal from defender Wayne Bridge at Highbury.
Arsenal: Lehmann, Cole, Cygan, Campbell, Toure, Pires, Ljungberg, Parlour, Edu ,Henry (Aliadiere 89), Kanu (Silva 73). Unused subs: Stack, Keown, Clichy, Hoyte, Papadopulos.
September 29, 1999: Barcelona 1 Arsenal 1
Kanu’s 81st minute goal earned the Gunners a point at the Nou Camp, despite the sending-off of Gilles Grimandi.
Luis Enrique had put the hosts ahead on 15 minutes, but Wenger’s men battled back for a share of the spoils, after Davor Suker, Theirry Henry and Freddie Ljungberg were sent on.
That gave them five points from their first three Group B matches in the Champions League, but they then lost home fixtures at Wembley to Barcelona (4-2) and Fiorentina (1-0) and a 3-2 win away at AIK Solna was not enough. They dropped into the UEFA Cup instead and beat Nantes (6-3 on agg), Deportivo La Coruna (6-3), Werder Bremen (6-2) and Lens (3-1) en route to a final meeting with Galatasaray, which ended goalless before they lost 4-1 on penalties.
Arsenal: Manninger, Dixon, Winterburn, Keown, Adams, Grimandi, Vieira, Parlour (Suker 75), Bergkamp (Henry 75), Overmars (Ljungberg 80), Kanu. Unused subs: Seaman, Syvinho, Upson, Luzhny.