This article looks at the top football matches that Arsenal have been victorious in when they have gone into the game as underdogs.
Arsenal are one of the most decorated teams in English football and have been a major European force for a number years but they are not always the favourites going into games where they have prevailed victorious. Here is a look at the top games where the Gunners have won as the underdogs.
Liverpool 0-2 Arsenal, 26th May, 1989
In what was arguably one of the greatest finales to a top flight English league season, the all-conquering dynasty of Liverpool was challenged by the new age pretenders of Arsenal. The two teams would go head-to-head at Anfield in the last match of the 1988/89 season. Arsenal needed to win the match by two clear goals to seal their first title since 1971 and deny Liverpool a 10th championship in 14 seasons.
Arsenal striker Alan Smith had given the away side a lead on 52 minutes but as the game wore on it looked like Liverpool would remain solid and hold on to the scoreline required for victory. Then, in a dramatic climax, Arsenal midfielder Michael Thomas popped up to score in the very last minute to give the Gunners to two goal lead they needed to win the title against all the odds. Liverpool would win the league title the following season but it was the first stage of the death of the great Reds empire.
Manchester United 0-1 Arsenal, 8th May, 2002
This game came at a time when the rivalry between Arsenal and Manchester United was at its peak. Arsenal needed a victory at Old Trafford to win the 2001/02 Premier League title but United were a force to be reckoned with on home soil and went into the match as the slight pre-game favourites with the bookies.
A second half goal from Sylvain Wiltord was enough to separate the sides and give Arsene Wenger his second title as Arsenal manager. The victory sealed an unprecedented Premier League record of a team going an entire season unbeaten away from home. This title win also included the core of the side that would go down in history as the “Invincibles” just two years later.
Inter Milan 1-5 Arsenal, 25th November, 2003
In the same season that they would go on to remain undefeated for a whole Premier League campaign, Wenger’s side were faced with the daunting prospect of needing to go to the San Siro to beat Italian giants Inter Milan on their own patch to avoid elimination from the Champions League group stages.
The Gunners pulled off the comprehensive win necessary to qualify and inflicted a first defeat at home to English opposition in over 40 years for the Italian side. It was also Arsenal’s biggest win in the competition.
It has rarely been seen that a side so unfancied to win a game has won so convincingly. The online sports betting forum went off the scale. Inter were heavy favourites with the bookmakers for this game. The odds of Arsenal winning with the online bookmakers, let alone so emphatically, were so long that the win for the Gunners seemed unthinkable. Arsenal didn’t even have influential central midfielder Patrick Vieira in the team. 12 years on and football betting online is even bigger business, with the UK market thriving for pretty much any sport you can imagine (although for us Brits, football is a clear winner!)
Real Madrid 0-1 Arsenal, 21st February, 2006
It was the first knockout phase of the 2005/06 Champions League. Arsenal had been given a nightmare draw of facing European legends Real Madrid over two legs. In a result that stunned Europe, Thierry Henry scored early in the second half to give Wenger’s side a seemingly unimaginable win.
The second leg saw the Gunners hold the La Liga club, that included a number of football icons such as Zinedine Zidane, David Beckham, Ronaldo, and Raul, to a 0-0 draw and progress to the next round. In fact, Wenger’s side would go all the way to the final that season where they would lose 2-1 to eventual winners Barcelona.
Arsenal 2-1 Barcelona, 16th February, 2011
There are teams that will go down in history amongst the greatest ever and in 2011 Barcelona possessed one of those great teams. A squad that included the likes of Lionel Messi, Xavi, and Andres Iniesta came to the Emirates Stadium expecting to get a routine win. Unfortunately, Arsenal had other ideas.
David Villa had appeared to have seen that business was done with relative ease by giving Barcelona a first half lead. However, two goals in the last 12 minutes turned the tie on its head and gave Arsenal a lead going into the second leg at the Nou Camp. Sadly, it was not meant to be. Barcelona won the second leg 3-1 and would go on to win the competition with a 3-1 win over Manchester United.
Arsenal 2-0 Bayern Munich, 20th October, 2015
The Gunners were faced with the prospect of premature elimination from their Champions League group when they needed to beat the prolific Bundesliga champions at home. Bayern Munich boasted incredible talents including Thomas Muller, Robert Lewandowski, and Manuel Neuer. It appeared to be mission impossible.
Even after the game had finished, the win still seemed beyond all comprehension. Bayern Munich had enjoyed a staggering 69% possession. They also had 22 attempts on goal to Arsenal’s 13 attempts. They had 11 corners to Arsenal’s 5. They also completed 797 passes in comparison to 289 passes completed by the Gunners. It defied belief but it was a mammoth feat accomplished by Arsenal.