Arsenal in Europe, how expectations change

Today there is expectation.  Expectation that the minimum requirement is the Arsenal will qualify for the Champions League; expectation that we will get through the group stage.   But it hasn’t always been thus.  Even under Wenger we haven’t always had this level of activity.

Arsenal never qualified for the European Cup in its earliest form because by the time the Cup started we had stopped winning the league.  We started in fact in the 1963/4 Inter-Cities Fairs Cup, losing in the second round to Royal Football Club de Liège.

Our second attempt was 1969/70 – so six years later – and we won it.  Our first trophy after 17 years of nothingness, including a fair amount of time under George Swindin and Billy Wright.

As winners we played the following season and got to the semi-final, something often forgotten, what with winning the Double at home.  But as a result of winning the Double we entered the European Cup for the first time, going out in the quarters.

Then we had a period without European football again (can you imagine that now?) and that continued until 1978/9 when we played in the Uefa Cup followed by the 1979/80 Cup Winners Cup.  This was the campaign in which Paul Vaessen scored in the semi-final only to lose to Valencia in the final on penalties.

In both 1981/2 and 1982/3 we went out of the Uefa Cup in the early rounds, and then following the riot by Liverpool fans at Heysel English teams were banned from football outside England.

Winning the league under Graham at Anfield took us nowhere as the ban was still on but the second league trophy took us back into the European Cup, and we went out in the second round to Benfica, being beaten in extra time at Highbury.

1993/4 saw another bash at the Cup Winners’ Cup, where we beat Parma in the final with three key members of the squad missing.  It was ever thus.

The following year we returned to the final, with Stewart Houston as manager, but lost in the last minute – something which Tottenham fans, with nothing much to celebrate of their own, often remember in song.

Arsene Wenger had hardly got the job at Arsenal when we played in the Uefa cup and were knocked out at the first stage.  In 1996/7 we again went out in the first round to PAOK Solnika. and then entered the first Champions League as Champions.  We went out in the group stage, playing at Wembley.

The following season we qualified again, but again failed at the group stage and so dropped into the Uefa Cup, and reached the final.  We played Galatasaray and lost on penalties.  Patrick Vieira missed one, as did Davor Suker.

You’ll know of course, because of the record Arsenal has achieved since then, that we have been in the Champions League each year thereafter – which is remarkable when you consider how poor our record was up to that point.  And in 2000/1 we qualified for the second group stage for the first time. going on to the quarters before going out.

In 2001/2 we qualified again for the second group stage and again in 2002/3 and so on year by year each year extending our run that little bit further, but only a step at a time.  In these early years of this long run in Europe there was no expectation that we would be there year after year after year, but when in 2006 we beat Real Mad away with a goal by Henry we did dare to think that maybe the growth would go on and on.
Although as you will know we lost in the final, we have continued to qualify year on year.   Real Madrid have the record number of consecutive participations in the European Cup, taking part in the first 15 tournaments from 1955–56 to 1969–70.

Manchester United and Real Madrid jointly hold the record number of consecutive participations in the Champions League with 18 appearances.  Arsenal are just one step behind have participated in 17 consecutive campaigns from 1998–99 to 2014–15.   It is a remarkable achievement for Arsenal considering how late our regular attendance in European competitions started.

But of course now expectations change and because we are at the show each year there is a belief that we ought to be winning it.  Maybe we will but in the meanwhile I’m rather pleased that having lived through the era when there wasn’t the chance for us to take part, now we can actually enjoy some European football.

There is an index to the site on the home page.

For clarity, please note that this is an article about Arsenal in Europe.  If you want to comment about supporting the club and its manager, that can still be done on the relevant article.

17 Replies to “Arsenal in Europe, how expectations change”

  1. In fairness up until the intro of the Champions league only one team qualified for the European Cup, with two teams going into the UEFA and one into the Cup winners Cup. Fourth place would not get you into Europe back in the day.

  2. Agree with the article. Good one as usual.
    on a side note: I was watching Roma, they are surprisingly very good. Yaya Toure was a liability all game (Harman was right after all) and the manger seems very good. Few things that stood out for me in the game. Both full backs up in City half (we kill Wenger by saying, why our full backs are so high). Cole and Maicon tormented Clichy and Zabaletta. You never see that in premier league and i understand now when Wenger says: “We have to impose our style on the opposition”. But i think the problem with us is that Per is too slow and the Gibbs is very inexperienced at the very high level and also cuz Wenger does not put restrictions on his players and wants them to learn by themselves through their mistakes.
    The whole point of writing this is that Chelsea is next and we will see our fullbacks up in their faces and then people will moan like Arseblog why our full backs are so high. I guess they missed the trick at the highest level of management.

  3. I remember Arsenal facing Bayern Munich in the second group phase, leading 2-0, but only drawing 2-2. I say only because I was disappointed, but there was a feeling of amazement that we had actually matched the mighty Bayern Munich.

    I wasn’t around in the 70s and 80s. Only became a fan in the Wenger years. But even I know not to take the CL for granted because there was a time we felt blessed to just share the same stage as the traditional European elite. I don’t know where this sense of entitlement comes from.

    I still hope to see Wenger lift the CL trophy with us. 2006 was painful but somehow, to me, it didn’t feel like it was our time. Hopefully it’ll be our time very soon.

  4. Shard
    Kudos to that, hope it’s out time soon.

    Chance to see youth today v Galatasary at 1:40 UK time on Arsenal player.

  5. I will always remember that 1994 Final against Parma, with the goal from Alan Smith. That’s the match that convinced me that Arsenal is my team:)

  6. So true – this article reminds us (older lot) how it was, and should put things into some kind of perspective for the younger generation!

    The image of the club as a whole has gone way forward from the early days too!!

  7. I’ve always thought that we do better at the end of each season because we are usually out of CL by that time.

    Maybe it wouldn’t hurt at all if we bid farewell to the competition in the group stage this year. We can focus our efforts on EPL!

  8. Sammy The Snake
    October 1, 2014 at 8:02 am

    Sure it puts less stress on players, both in body and mind to be involved in many fronts, but lets not forget that several of our players as well the new stars actually came to us to have this high profile CL exposure and to take our club collectively – that step further ahead!

  9. For those able or willing the U19 game is at Boreham Wood ground, 14:00 kick off and will cost nothing – yes entrance is free! As Para has pointed out it is also being shown on Arsenal player. I’m going to the ground, hope to see some of you there.

  10. I like that part of the article where that painful game in the CWC final of 1994/95 goes into ‘fine’ or small print ! Even smaller would have been better !
    Like all those clauses in a contract where they don’t really want you to be pouring over .
    Never been really able to wipe that from my memory. Fuck you for that ,Nayim !
    Our yearly foray into the CL is like a combination of monopoly and the snakes and ladders games.
    Go past GO ! , collect 20 Million Pounds on your way . Build la grande stadium with the money and make more money. Build some more .
    Get into the quarter-finals and come face to face with
    the different snakes ( take your pick – Bussca was crude but deadly !) and slide back down .
    Start again the next season .One day we will get the roll of the dice and we’ll only get ladders .
    Soon , real soon.

  11. Who has the biggest willy in football?

    Nayim, because he can lob Seaman fron 50 yds.

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