With the recent Champions League victory over Marseille in the south of France as well as a 2-1 win at Swansea, Arsenal are enjoying an impressive winning run away from home. The win over Marseille was also a great start for Arsenal in Europe, claiming three points from their first game away from home in what is an incredibly difficult group. Going on to beat Napoli at the Emirates in what was a convincing performance, the gunners are riding high so far in this seasons Champions League. Of course, with a trip to Dortmund and the Napoli return game at the Stadio San Paolo, Arsenal will still need to produce their best form to progress from group F. In the past, Arsenal have enjoyed some glorious nights on foreign soil, and here I will examine the clubs 10 best ever away performances in the Champions League.
10. Sparta Praha 0-2 Arsenal. 18 October 2005.
This game will always be remembered as the match in which Arsenal legend Thierry Henry broke the clubs goal scoring record, overtaking Ian Wright’s tally on a brisk night in the Czech capital. The opening goal came when Henry produced a beautiful curling shot from the outside of his boot which nestled in the bottom corner to level with Wright’s one hundred and eighty five goals, it was an incredible and stylish finish from the Frenchman. The record breaking second goal of the night came in less spectacular fashion, with Henry taking the ball in his stride and then rolling it home past the goalkeeper, but it established Henry’s name in Arsenal’s history and capped off a textbook away performance in Europe.
9. PSV Eindhoven 0-4 Arsenal. 25 September 2002.
New signing and recent Brazilian World Cup winner Gilberto Silva opened the scoring inside twenty seconds after a fantastic piece of attacking play from Arsenal. This early goal promised to end Arsenal’s recent nine game winless streak away from home in Europe, and when tricky Swede Freddie Ljungberg added a second there was only one winner on the cards. A brace from the ever excellent Thierry Henry followed on a night when Arsenal showed their true class and potential, an emphatic 4-0 win which was just what the team needed to ease the pressure of European away days.
8. AS Roma 1-3 Arsenal. 27 November 2002.
Yet another master class from Arsenal’s number fourteen saw the team from North London destroy the Italians in ninety minutes of sheer class. After falling behind to an early Antonio Cassano strike for Roma, Arsenal responded in emphatic style with Henry sweeping the ball past a helpless Goalkeeper with a trademark finish. Halfway into the second half Henry grabbed his second goal, pouncing on a drop ball and instinctively firing home, Arsenal were now on course to complete a famous win in the Italian capital. Five minutes later Henry made sure of the three points and completed his hat-trick with a sublime free-kick, curling the ball into the top left hand corner from thirty yards out. The result lives long in the memory of the fans.
7. Udinese 1-2 Arsenal. 24 August 2011.
Going through a disastrous start to the new season as well as losing Samir Nasri and captain Cesc Fabregas in the summer transfer window was not an ideal preparation for a Champions League qualifier. Arsenal held a fragile 1-0 lead after an unconvincing performance in the first leg at the Emirates and despite this aggregate advantage, the English side were widely tipped to crash out of the competition. Things didn’t start good for the North London club after falling behind to a beautifully guided header from veteran striker Di Natalie, beating Szechny with ease. As the game progressed Arsenal pushed forward and were rewarded when Robin van Persie levelled the score after some good work by Gervinho. Udinese were awarded a penalty but Di Natalie could not convert as Arsenal’s Polish Goalkeeper produced a brilliant save to give Arsenal the momentum. Champions League football was secured late on as Theo Walcott raced through the Italian’s defence to slide the ball into the near post and give Arsenal a 3-1 aggregate win and some much needed relief.
6. Juventus 0-0 Arsenal. 5 April 2006.
A very ‘un-Arsenal’ style performance secured the North London clubs progression into the Champions League semi-finals after a highly tense night in Turin. The Gunners overpowered a Patrick Vieira inspired Juventus team at Highbury in the first leg, with a young Cesc Fabregas and newly crowned captain Thierry Henry grabbing the goals. This 2-0 aggregate lead was certainly not enough for Arsenal to sit back and relax in the second leg, and Juventus, backed by passionate support, aimed to dent Arsenal’s hopes of reaching the last four. Dealing with the pressure, Arsenal continued their impeccable defensive record that season in Europe and stifled any Juve threats with a professional and well disciplined game plan. In what probably will be one the most remembered goalless games in any Arsenal fans memory, the team showed true grit and determination in silencing the Italian giants.
5. Bayern Munich 0-2 Arsenal. 13 March 2013.
Going into last seasons game at the Allianz Arena, Arsenal were in turmoil after a string of unconvincing performances. Thoroughly beaten and outclassed in the first leg 3-1 by the Germans, a cricket score line in the second leg was on the cards, if the majority was to be believed. Despite all the negativity, Arsenal ran out 2-0 winners in an impressive and promising display. Although the result was not enough for Arsenal to progress into the quarter finals, it certainly restored pride and belief amongst the Arsenal camp. The confidence gained from the match inspired an incredible run of form towards the end of the season, with Arsenal leapfrogging Tottenham and securing Champions League football for the next campaign. Even if Bayern were not one hundred percent focussed in the second leg, Arsenal produced a commanding display which saw Olivier Giroud net an early goal, before Koscielny’s late header forced Bayern to wake up, with Arjen Robben keeping the ball in the corner flag to kill off the game. Even though Arsenal exited the competition, I have included this result amongst the top 10 list because it inspired the players and created a winning mentality for the rest of the season. Considering Bayern went on to win the competition, destroying Barcelona in the process, it was a very good result for Arsenal.
4. Villarreal 0-0 Arsenal. 25 April 2006.
After Arsenal won the first leg 1-0 at Highbury thanks to a Kolo Toure goal, the second leg at the compact and vibrant El Madrigal proved to be anything but straightforward. Similar to the Juventus away game in the previous round, Arsenal performed in a disciplined and conservative manner and always looked in control of the game. However, as the match progressed, with Villarreal having most of what little chances were on offer, the atmosphere for both teams grew increasingly tense. Deep into the match, Gael Clichy’s clumsy challenge brought down Josi Mari, resulting in a penalty for the home side. Riquelme stepped up to break Arsenal’s spirit and force the game into extra-time, which would have given the momentum to Villarreal. Unfortunately for the Argentine, Arsenal’s German number one had no intention of giving up his clean sheet, expertly diving to his left and sending Arsenal into their first ever Champions League final. Unfortunately, Lehmann did not have a similar experience in the final itself.
3. AC Milan 0-2 Arsenal. 4 March 2008.
The first leg at the Emirates stadium ended in a stalemate between the two teams, with Adebayor spurning a golden chance late on. Despite this, Arsenal dominated the return game at the San Siro with a stylistic and complete team display. The game started in nail-biting fashion for both sets of fans, knowing how important the first goal would be. After being in control for large parts of the match, Arsenal finally got what their dominance deserved as they made the breakthrough. Spanish Maestro Cesc Fabregas picked up the ball in midfield, advanced forward and unleashed a stinging low shot into the bottom corner, catching out Milan goalkeeper Kalac. The goal saw the Arsenal bench erupt in ecstasy and things got even better as Adebayor made up for his miss at the Emirates with a tap in late on, after good work from Theo Walcott. Abou Diaby was immense on the night, producing probably what was his best performance in a Gunners shirt, but it was the commanding and forceful Fabregas who stole the headlines.
2. Inter Milan 1-5 Arsenal. 25 November 2003.
Even though Arsenal were well into an unbeaten season domestically, it was a completely different story in the Champions League. Earlier defeats to Inter and Dynamo Kiev, as well as a stalemate against Locomotive Moscow had put the North London club on the verge of exiting Europe’s elite competition. But thanks to an eighty ninth minute winner from Ashley Cole against Dynamo at Highbury, Arsenal still had a slight chance of getting out of the group as they headed to Italy and the San Siro for the return Inter Milan game. Things started good for Arsenal, with Thierry Henry slotting home from the edge of the box, but his strike was cancelled out by Christian Vieri’s deflected shot which put the score level at half-time. Freddie Ljungberg restored Arsenal’s lead after the interval, poking the ball past Francesco Toldo. A resilient and hungry Arsenal team continued to dominate play, keeping Inter at bay and silencing the crowd. Stand-in captain for the night Ray Parlour was commanding in the middle of the park, yet at only 2-1 the score line was too close for Arsenal to relax. It wasn’t until the eighty fifth minute that Arsenal could breath a sigh of relief, as Henry collected the ball inside his own half, before out pacing Zanetti, only to then check back and toy with the defender, before beating him again and shooting low past Toldo for 3-1 Arsenal. Brazilian Edu added a fourth, before the brilliant Robert Pires wrapped up the win with a simple finish for the fifth Arsenal goal. Dubbed ‘The Italian Job’, Arsenal’s emphatic destruction of Inter at the San Siro goes down in the clubs history and also showcased the impact that Thierry Henry had on the football world at that time.
1. Real Madrid 0-1 Arsenal. 21 February 2006.
In a result that added momentum to the club’s 2005/2006 Champions League campaign, Arsenal became the first ever English side to defeat Real Madrid in the Bernabéu. Madrid’s ‘Galácticos’ went into the fixture as massive favourites, a side which included the likes of David Beckham, Raul, Zinedine Zidane and Ronaldo. Despite the big names and personalities in the Madrid team, there was only one man who stole the headlines that night. Gunners captain Thierry Henry was immense, producing one of the greatest moments in Arsenal’s European history. In an individually brilliant passage of play which saw him taking on half of the Madrid team before sliding the ball calmly past Casillas, Thierry Henry secured a 1-0 away win for Arsenal. The North London club produced a brilliant performance on the night, Madrid did have opportunities to score, but the Gunners dominated the majority of play and kept the nine time European cup winners pretty quiet for large parts of the match. The fans and the team needed this kind of display, as the club were having a pretty dismal domestic season so far, and the result in Spain lifted the moods of everyone concerned with Arsenal. The Gunners went on to win 1-0 on aggregate after a thrilling 0-0 draw at Highbury in the second leg. Both teams slugging it out for ninety minutes with Jens Lehmann producing an amazing save right at the death from Raul to see Arsenal through. But it is the first leg in Spain that remains one of the greatest triumphs from an English team away from home in Europe.