What Happened the Last Three Times Arsenal Reached the UEFA Champions League Quarterfinals?

Arsenal’s triumph over FC Porto in a nail-biting penalty shootout has once again propelled them into the spotlight of European football. This victory marked their return to the quarterfinals of the UEFA Champions League for the first time in 14 long years. Since 2010, the North London side was dumped out at the Round of 16 for seven consecutive campaigns between 2010/11 and 2016/17 after some heavy beatings by the likes of Bayern Munich and Barcelona, before dropping out of the competition entirely a year later.

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After six years of dining away from the most elite dining table in, Mikel Arteta’s men’s stellar campaign last season brought a return to the competition, and they have seized the opportunity with both hands. They topped a relatively simple-looking group ahead of PSV Eindhoven, Lens, and Sevilla, and have now dispatched the 2005 winners to secure their spot in the last eight. Their exploits have made the bookies sit and take notice, with soccer betting odds installing them as the +600 favorites for glory behind Manchester City and Real Madrid.

While The Gunners have certainly impressed this term, they are still a long way from lifting the famous big-eared trophy for the first time, especially considering that this is their first foray into the quarterfinals in some 14 years. But what happened on their last three visits to the deep waters of the Champions League? Let’s take a look.

2007/08 – Eliminated By Liverpool in the Quarterfinals

Arsenal’s journey to the quarterfinals in the 2007/08 season was marked by a number of impressive performances. They made it through to the knockout stages after finishing as the runners-up in Group H to Sevilla. That resulted in an unfavorable draw in the Round of 16 against the reigning champions AC Milan. But Arsene Wenger’s young Gunners proved that they were certainly up to the fight.

A 0-0 draw in the home leg at the Emirates left them with it all to do in the return fixture in the San Siro. But Cesc Fabregas rifled home a crucial away goal from 30 yards in the 84th minute, leaving the hosts needing to find two goals in the time that remained in order to progress. Ultimately, it was Arsenal who added a second in injury time through Emmanuel Adebayor, punching their ticket to the quarterfinals and a date with compatriots Liverpool.

The first leg at the Emirates Stadium ended in a 1-1 draw after Dirk Kuyt canceled out Adebayor’s opener. In the second leg, with everything on the line, all hell broke loose. The contest swung one way then the next, with Abou Diaby giving the visitors the lead before goals from Sami Hyppia and Fernando Torres swung the momentum in the hosts’ favor. Adebayor would net a crucial second away goal for the visitors meaning that they would progress. But Steven Gerrard gave the hosts a 3-2 lead on the night barely a minute later before Ryan Babel ended the contest and sent the Gunners packing in injury time.

2008/09 – Eliminated by Manchester United in the Semifinals

Building on their experiences from the previous season, Arsenal entered the 2008/09 campaign determined to mark their mark on the continent. They once again finished as group runners-up, this time behind FC Porto, setting up a last-16 contest against more Italians in the form of Francesco Totti’s AS Roma. They managed to squeeze past the Giallorossi before beating Villareal in a repeat of the 2006 semifinal that the Gunners also won.

That year, the victory sent them on their way to the Paris-hosted showpiece to face Barcelona. This time around, the win was only enough for a spot in the semifinals against rivals and the major powerhouse in English football at the time, Manchester United. The Red Devils were the reigning champions and aiming to become the first team in history to successfully defend the trophy, but they could only manage a 1-0 victory in the first leg at Old Trafford.

As such, Arsenal welcomed United to the Emirates for the second leg full of optimism. Unfortunately for them, that optimism would be all but extinguished after just 11 minutes as the visitors raced into a two-goal lead, the second of which being a 40-yard free kick from Cristiano Ronaldo. The deficit proved far too much to overturn and United added a third late on before Robin van Persie’s consolation restored a sliver of pride.

2009/10 – Eliminated by Barcelona in the Quarterfinals

In the 2009/10 season, Arsenal’s path to the quarterfinals saw them face FC Porto in the Round of 16. The Gunners turned around a first-leg deficit with a resounding 5-0 victory at home and headed into the last eight full of confidence. Unfortunately for them, they were set to clash with the reigning champions Barcelona.

The first leg in North London was a closely contested affair. The Blaugrana took a two-goal lead however, second-half strikes from Theo Walcott and Cesc Fabregas secured a 2-2 draw and meant that the Gunners headed to the Nou Campo with hope. Unfortunately for them, they ran into a Lionel Messi in the form of his life.

The English side took a shock early lead through Nicklas Bendtner but then, the Argentinian genius took over. Messi scored four unanswered goals to send Arsenal packing, and they wouldn’t make it this far again for another 14 years.

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