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December 2020

Top Games Arsenal Have Won As Underdogs

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.

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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.

11 comments to Top Games Arsenal Have Won As Underdogs

  • ogban

    I’d include Arsenal 2-0 Juventus, 2006

  • Rantetta

    1st September 2013 Under Gunner-doggies hadn’t spent £100 million but Spurs had. Arsenal “bought” Flamini, hardly top-doggy?
    Only I thought we’d win that one, apparently.
    Check the famous Wenger grin at 2:00 when challenged to make signings before the infamous Slam-Shut Doggy-top signing thingy, FACT!:

    One nil to The Arsenal, plus Özil.

  • JohnW

    Olympiacos 2 Arsenal 5. December 9, 2015
    Of all the English teams, Arsenal had been written off in the Champions League. Arsenal had lost influential midfielders Santi Carzola and Alexis Sanchez and were standing on their last leg due to a string of injuries. The first half was tied at 0-0, until an Ozil masterclass in the last 20 minutes. What a comeback from 1-0 on the night!

  • Pete

    Would think the 1-0 over Parma in the 94 CWC Final with a makeshift midfield could make the list?

  • SamuelAkinsolaAdebosin

    I am seeing OLY 0-3 AFC. FT 90” +, a result at Karakiskais Stadium in Athens on Wednesday night in my hunch thoughtful prediction.

    Would the Boss be prepared to do 1 important positional change in his starting XI on Wedsday night? Yes, he SHOULD because that is the Key to the Gunners getting this incredible 0-3 away win score-line at Karakiskais Stadium in Athens.

    Olympiakos game MUST be left confused&scattered by the Packed Bus Splitting Bullets Gunners Starts of: Cech; DebuchyRhino’koscielnyMonreal; RamseyFlamini; BellerinOzilChampbell; Giroud. On the Bench are: OspinaChambersGibbsOxladeKamaraWalcottIwobi. Now after a 2nd thought, I’ve reviewed my bench from the bench I posted on But the starts remain the same.


    The Boss should please not underestimate my above starts and bench for any reason other than the reason of injury of ill health to any of my starts&bench. If it’s just for once, let the Boss adopt my starts&bench for this crucial match. It’s a gamble. It’s a high yield dividend stake that will yield the envisage high dividend.

  • Gord

    We get Sunderland (at Emirates) in FA Cup.

    Liverpool away to Exeter. Spuds home to Leicester. ManUre home to Sheffield United. Chelsea via Leyton Orient or Scunthorpe.

  • Gord

    Sam, give it up. While it is possible that Wenger will pick the same squad you do on some occassion, it isn’t because he is looking for your input.

    You obviously have a reason to pick who you do, and you seem willing to explain this others. Which is wonderful. But you are not helping Wenger.


  • Josif

    Our double-clinching victory at Old Trafford was really special but there is an elephant in the room regarding that game that nobody seems to notice. We won there without Henry, Bergkamp and Pires!

  • Brickfields Gunners

    A 0-3 win for me too ! Up the Gunners !

  • Andy Mack

    Samuel, please tell us how you know which players are fit and aren’t carrying ‘knocks’ so they must start?

  • darkstar

    My favourite is Juventus 0 Arsenal 1 back in 1980 in the Cup winners cup semi final when Paul Vaessen scored 2 minutes from the end to take us to the final – we drew the first leg at home and nobody gave us a chance but we became the first British side to win there – shame about the final lol !