Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal are hunting for the club’s first Premier League title since The Invincibles of 2004 and have a huge chance of winning the league title.
Aside from a potential league triumph, Arsenal will be desperate to at least ensure that UEFA Champions League football returns to the Emirates next season for the first time since 2017.
Arteta’s transformation of Arsenal
Arteta’s has transformed Arsenal from a Europa League quality outfit to a team competing at the peak of the Premier League in just a few years. His recruitment has been vital, as this season he even brought in some seasoned winners from title rivals Manchester City in the form of Gabriel Jesus and Oleksandr Zinchenko.
In the Premier League odds, Arsenal are favourites at 10/11 to win the title, but if they fall short a UCL spot will be a decent consolation prize. The Spanish coach will surely get his opportunity to extend Arsenal’s history on the continental level, but what have been Arsenal’s greatest European nights so far?
Arsenal v Real Madrid 2006
On Arsenal’s road to the final in 2006 they met a strong Real Madrid side in the round of 16 stages with the first leg taking place away at the Bernabeu. The star-filled Madrid side featured the likes of Iker Casillas, Sergio Ramos and David Beckham. But Arsenal had world-class players of their own including World Cup winner Thierry Henry and Cesc Fabregas.
In what was probably Arsenal’s greatest Champions League night of all, the only goal came via an exceptional solo run from Henry to earn the Gunners a crucial away goal, as well as a narrow victory. The one-goal win proved to be hugely significant as Arsenal ground out a goalless draw at Highbury to advance to the quarter-final and Arsenal eventually reached the final for the first time in their history.
Arsenal v Villarreal 2006
Arsenal’s runner-up for the title of greatest-ever European night came later in the campaign in which they knocked Madrid out. They faced another Spanish side in the semi-final albeit one that has been much less successful on the European stage.
In the first leg in Spain Arsenal broke the deadlock in the first half from what was initially a corner kick. Aleksandr Hleb eventually received the ball following Henry’s delivery, and he set up Kolo Toure who found the net.
There was drama late in the tie as Jens Lehmann saved a penalty in the dying moments from Juan Riquelme. Similar to the Madrid tie, Arsenal settled for a goalless draw at Highbury to set a new UCL record and reach the final against FC Barcelona.
The San Siro demolition
Arsenal faced Inter Milan in the group stage of the 2003/04 competition and in the away fixture at the San Siro, they produced a remarkable performance. In a must-win game in order to progress to the knockout stage, Arsenal recorded a dominant 5-1 victory in Milan. Henry netted a brace and the likes of Freddie Ljungberg and Robert Pires also scored in the same season that Arsenal become invincibles in the Premier League.
Arsenal have beaten many top European clubs in the UCL in their history, but under Arteta, they could become one of the most feared teams and seriously compete for European honours once again. They have a rich history in Europe but have never won the greatest prize in the form of the UCL, and perhaps the Spanish coach can finally end that run during his Emirates tenure.