Last night’s Champions League loss for Arsenal at the hands of Ligue 1 side Monaco came as a shock to the vast majority of those settling in expecting to see Arsene Wenger’s side set themselves up for what was billed as a somewhat, foregone progression for the English side. Arsenal were disappointing to say the least. When the draw for the last 16 was made, it seemed on paper at least that the North London side had been quite fortunate in drawing the French side as they aimed to better their previous four Champions League runs by progressing to the tournament’s Quarter-Finals.
Defence that has since been dubbed ‘suicidal’ by the Arsenal coach left the Gunners having to reverse a 1-3 deficit with away goals sure to play a huge role over the two ties. This is however not the first time Arsenal have found themselves in such a situation and if history is anything to go by, the Gunners are quite adept at turning these ties around when the odds are against them. We look at the best examples of Wenger’s men turning it all around against the odds.
Inter Milan 1 – 5 Arsenal – November 25 2003
In hindsight it’s easy to forget the significance of Arsenal’s now historic 1-5 victory over Internazionale at the San Siro in 2003. Heading into the tie 3-0 down following an embarrassing defeat at then home Highbury, Arsenal were essentially written off for the return leg, with nobody fathoming the marvel that occurred that cold night in November. In a proud night for stand in captain Ray Parlour and Arsenal, the club’s biggest living legend shone his brightest as Thierry Henry tore the Serie A side to pieces. Scoring twice and providing two assits, Thierry henry put in a performance that lives long in the memory of Arsenal fans and neuterals alike. Inflicting the biggest defeat Inter Milan had suffered in the 47 years prior to this ill-fated night for the Milan side. This tie provided a monumental confidence boost to Wenger’s men as they went on domestically to claim the domestic title unbeaten and reach the Champions League quarterfinals.
Borussia Dortmund 0 -1 Arsenal – November 6 2013
Having lost to the Champions League runner-ups at the Emirates in the reverse tie in this fixture, Arsenal were in desperate need of three points to secure advancement from the group stages. Not many gave Arsenal a chance against a high flying Dortmund on the night, especially due to Dortmund’s fantastic record of scoring in all of their 60 games prior to this crucial meeting. It was a hotly contested tie that could have gone either way. Arsenal were tight defensively and looked a threat on the attack but still lacking in any key penetration. That was until Aaron Ramsey who was enjoying a fantastic spel of form at the time nodded in from close range for the Gunners to send their travelling fans into euphoria. Arsenal eventually finished second in the group behind the Germans but progressed to fight another day.
Real Madrid 0 – 1 Arsenal – February 21 2006
Still Arsenal’s best showing in Europe’s elite club competition, 2006 saw the Gunners reach the final of the tournament before losing out to Barcelona 2-1 in the final. The club’s route to the final however was paved with some of the club’s most memorable and significant European night’s, with none more impressive than their unprecedented success at the Bernabeu where they beat Spanish giants Real Madrid on their home turf. Making them the first English side to do so in the tournaments history. The night was perfectly encapsulated in a single moment of brilliance and probably one of the most defining moments in Thierry Henry’s decorated career in North London. The Frenchman tore through the Madrid side, carrying the ball from his own half of the field before smashing the ball across the bow of Iker Cassillas to give Arsenal a historic win that would lead them to the heights of the Champions League final.
Turning around their 1-3 deficit when they visit the French principality won’t be easy by any stretch but if Arsene Wenger’s team can channel the energy and momentum of any of these historic European nights for the club, anything is possible.