Arsenal in the Europa semis: how the teams have built up to the match.

By Bulldog Drummond

Of course you can’t directly compare the Champions League with the Europa League because of the quality of the opposition, but even so it is interesting to see how have Arsenal have done in Europe since we were runners up in the Champions League in 2006 – and compare with the opposition tonight.

The table below sets out the European games played with the ususal stats for each year from that season onwards, ending with this year’s incomplete run.

Season Competition P W D L F A GD Round
2005–06 Champions League 13 8 4 1 15 4 +11 RU
2006–07 Champions League 10 5 3 2 13 6 +7 R16
2007–08 Champions League 12 7 3 2 24 9 +15 QF
2008–09 Champions League 14 7 3 4 23 11 +12 SF
2009–10 Champions League 12 7 2 3 26 14 +12 QF
2010–11 Champions League 8 5 0 3 21 11 +10 R16
2011–12 Champions League 10 6 2 2 13 11 +2 R16
2012–13 Champions League 8 4 1 3 13 11 +2 R16
2013–14 Champions League 10 6 1 3 14 7 +7 R16
2014–15 Champions League 10 6 2 2 19 11 +8 R16
2015–16 Champions League 8 3 0 5 13 15 -2 R16
2016–17 Champions League 8 4 2 2 20 16 +4 R16
2017–18 Europa League 14 8 3 3 31 13 +18 SF
2018-19 Europa League 12 9 1 2 22 4 +18 SF+?

The most games we have ever played in the European campaigns from 2005/6 (our best season of course) and on, was last season in the Europa, with 14 – something we will match this season – or maybe better by one.   And with the benefit of 12 games, (although often against modest opposition in the early stages), we have now won more games than in any season since that run to the final.

We currently have a goal difference equal to that achieved last season of +18.  If we improve on that we are in the final.

As the table shows, before the Europa League we had seven consecutive years of going out in the round of 16 of the Champions League – although of course against tougher opposition that we have faced in the Europa League.

Here is our record thus far in this season’s competetion.

Date Game Res Score
20 Sep 2018 Arsenal v Vorskla Poltava W 4-2
04 Oct 2018 FK Qarabağ Agdam v Arsenal W 0-3
25 Oct 2018 Sporting Clube Portugal v Arsenal W 0-1
08 Nov 2018 Arsenal v Sporting Clube Portugal D 0-0
29 Nov 2018 Vorskla Poltava v Arsenal W 0-3
13 Dec 2018 Arsenal v FK Qarabağ Agdam W 1-0
14 Feb 2019 FC BATE Borisov v Arsenal L 1-0
21 Feb 2019 Arsenal v FC BATE Borisov W 3-0
07 Mar 2019 Rennes v Arsenal L 3-1
14 Mar 2019 Arsenal v Rennes W 3-0
11 Apr 2019 Arsenal v Napoli W 2-0
18 Apr 2019 Napoli v Arsenal W 0-1

Of course, we haven’t won a trophy in the modern era in Europe, but our history has its moments, including being the first British side to defeat Real Madrid and Juventus in their own stadia.  We were also the first club in Europe to beat both Inter and AC Milan in their own ground.

And the much maligned (at least in some quarters) Jens Lehmann kept 10 consecutive clean sheets in the 2005/6 season, the defence going 995 minutes without letting a goal in.

But despite these items of note, the fact remains we have only won two European trophies – the Fairs cup in 1970 and the Cup Winners Cup in 1994 (against Valencia!)

So what now?   Three defeats in a row, conceding three each time, is not exactly the Arsenal Way – or at least not what we have been used to.  So we do need to be doing something about this.

Valencia have done much more in Europe than we have over the years, including being twice runners up in the Champions League, winners of the Cup Winners’ Cup and Winners of the Uefa Cup.  But none of these has happened since 2004.

This time around Valencia started out in the Champions League and then transferred to the Europa after coming third in a group in which Juventus and Manchester Utd qualified.  In the last round of the Europa they beat Villareal home and away.

In their domestic league they are sixth, and it is interesting to compare the records.

# Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Barcelona 35 25 8 2 86 32 54 83
2 Atletico Madrid 35 22 8 5 52 23 29 74
3 Real Madrid 35 20 5 10 59 39 20 65
4 Getafe 35 14 13 8 44 31 13 55
5 Sevilla 35 16 7 12 59 43 16 55
6 Valencia 35 12 16 7 40 32 8 52

Comparing with Arsenal – the comparison shows that they have lost only seven games – against our ten.  But they are draw specialists, which is undoubtedly what they will try and go for against Arsenal at the Arsenal Stadium.

However Arsenal score many more goals – 69 for us to 40 for them, although our defence is a lot worse.  Even so the balance is in our favour – we have a GD of 21 to their eight.

Both teams are a big distance from the top club although for Arsenal the big distance is somewhat shorter.

# Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Manchester City 36 30 2 4 90 22 68 92
2 Liverpool 36 28 7 1 84 20 64 91
3 Tottenham Hotspur 36 23 1 12 65 36 29 70
4 Chelsea 36 20 8 8 60 39 21 68
5 Arsenal 36 20 6 10 69 49 20 66
6 Manchester United 36 19 8 9 64 51 13 65

Valencia are the 13th best club in terms of goals scored in the Spain league this season, but they have the fourth best defence.  Arsenal are the third best attacking team in the PL but the 10th best defence.

So overall, we attack, they defend in this match (that is rather obvious) but then in the return game they try and get us on the break while still holding the defence as a solid line.  Meanwhile we try and get the away goal.

For the team the Standard gives us


Koscielny, Monreal, Sokratis,

Maitland-Niles, Kolasinac,

Torreira, Xhaka,


Lacazette, Aubameyang

Sports Mole give us the same players but a more likely line up


Sokratis, Koscielny, Monreal;

Maitland-Niles, Xhaka, Torreira, Kolasinac;


Lacazette, Aubameyang

And the Standard goes with


Koscielny, Monreal, Sokratis,

Maitland-Niles, Kolasinac,

Torreira, Xhaka,


Lacazette, Aubameyang

So that’s it – everyone in agreement except for exactly how that back line lines up

40 Replies to “Arsenal in the Europa semis: how the teams have built up to the match.”

  1. All we have to do this evening is score a couple of goals, deny Valencia any away goals and look forward to the return leg with confidence.
    Damned easy to type, that was.
    So what do we need to do.
    1. Ignore Valencia. They are coming to Fortress Emirates where most teams have perished this season.
    2. We have a game plan and must stick to it.
    We are good at that.
    3.We have an experienced manager in Unai Emery, particularly in European football. His succession to Arsene Wenger in his first season in charge, speaks for itself.
    4.We have a secret weapon in the faithful who turn up and support the team. They must cheer every move we make and keep quiet over any mistakes.
    PS I’m beginning to feel confident!
    Good luck, lads. 😎

  2. In sport, what happens on the field of play decides the victor. In professional sport what happens outside the field of play bends decisions for the victor.

    Let’s hope tonights game is officiated with integrity & honesty and Football is the victor.

  3. You mean Arsenal have lost 10 PL matches this season out of the 36 they’ve played? This is absurd! I didn’t know the Gunners have lost up to 10 PL matches this season until I saw the above current League table. I thought it’s 7 matches that they have lost. With 2 matches remaining to play before the end of the season, I hope their last loss away to Leicester will be the very last loss that Arsenal will suffer in the PL this season. By the way, have Arsene Wenger’s managed Gunners team ever lost up to 10 PL matches in a season during his 22 years reign at the club? I doubt. But I could be wrong.

    Anyway, let me focus on the Arsenal home match in the Europa League Cup semi-final 1st leg match against Valencia tonight and offer a piece of team selection advice for the match to Emery to take it or leave it. But I hope he’ll take to my advice because for invigorating to be audacious, though the match Arsenal will play tonight is not in the PL but in the Europa League. But still I think the Arsenal team squad for the match should be refreshed with 3 youth players injection to the team to invigorate it and have them start the match. So that the team will have some fresh air to breath-in that will enabled it to breath very well to play strongly in the match and wins it. The Arsenal senior team selections who have played in the last 3 matches in the PL have looked to lack the requisite fresh air to breath-in to freshn up to play very well in the 3 PL matches that were lost in succession as most of the Gunners who played in the lost 3 matches looked to have been strangled gaping for air to breath-in.

    My 3-2-4-1 Arsenal starting XI and the on the bench 7 Gunners for Valencia are as below.

    Koscielny Mavro’nous Sokratis;
    Torreria Xhaka;
    AMN Saka Willock Auba’

    Leno Jenkinson Mustafi Elneny Ozil Iwobi Lacazette.

  4. @Menace,
    Your 10.53 made an important point about the integrity of the match officials. None are ever without criticism, of course, particularly from the supporters of the losing side.
    We rarely know the referee, especially in European ties, where the powers that be attempt to err on the side of ultra-neutrality.
    All we can do is, as you rightly say, is rely on honesty and fairness. 😎

  5. Lineup:
    Mustafi Sokratis Koscielny Kolasinac
    Guendouzi Xhaka
    Maitland-Niles Ozil Aubameyang

    Beach: Leno, Elneny, Mkhitaryan, Torreira, Iwobi, Monreal, Nketiah

  6. Arsenal taking only a 2-1 goals lead win in this 1st leg match to Valencia in the 2nd leg match could be a fragile 1 goal lead that could be cancelled out if Valencia score at home and Arsenal didn’t score any away goals there.

    To be on the safer side in this 2 legged semi-final match, the Gunners should in the 2nd half of this 1st leg match go on the rampage attacking Valencia from all fronts emasse to increase their goals tally to 4 goals scored but restrict Valencia to the only 1 goal they’ve scored in the 1st half of the match by keeping a defensive eagle eye watch on Valencia counterattacks in the 2nd half to void them before they can do any damage to Arsenal.

  7. WOO HOO, HOO ! Great comeback guys, well done!
    Up the Gunners !

  8. Excellent victory. 🙂 I was calm as I knew we would have our guardian angel Walter on the stands tonight. 🙂

    3-1 is a decent result, even if I have seen it being overturned in the second leg too many times. We did it once this season as well (v Rennes). If we can repeat our Napoli performance without Rambo at Mestalla, we will get into the final, most likely against Chelsea.

  9. Well done lads.

    I was cursing when Emery took Ozil off, our best out let and chance of a crucial third goal I thought, to be replaced by Mica, not in the best of form.

    Just shows why I’m not a manager.


  10. Josif

    “3-1 is a decent result, even if I have seen it being overturned in the second leg too many times.”

    But never against us it seems according to Bt Sport.

  11. I think that should just about be enough, and a big Ha! Ha! to all the people who left early & missed our third goal (especially at the ticket prices we charge).

  12. No immediate post match today from Walter as he was at the match so the result was never in doubt, just the margin of the victory. Happy with three one, even with our away form should be enough, we just need to be on the front foot and score the vital away goal.

  13. Our 3rd goal in time added-on restored some confidence that a place in the Final is still in our grasp.
    I thought we started very cautiously and it wasn’t until we equalised Valencia’s opener, that we took much of the control.
    Our apparent inability to defend our goal area simply must be solved during the summer recess. Or else our goals-against will continue to be too much of a burden to bear.
    However, all is well and we can now look forward to our final home game of the season on Sunday, against Brighton. Fourth place in the EPL is still our main target,of course.😎

  14. I would have been very much calmer had I known that Walter would be in the stadium . And that a 3-1 score would be the expected result !

    But then again , except for the nervy first few minutes , when they could have two or more , we were mostly in control . Hope we get them rattled by scoring early in their ground.

  15. I found it very interesting that the commentator stated that Valencia’s poor dometsic form of late wasn’t very good, “probably because they’d had their eye on this game”. I don’t ever remember them suggesting that the same might apply to us.

    Personally I think the claim was rubbish but why reel out excuses for the opposition whilst consistently slagging us off when we’re in exactly the same position.

  16. A free header at the back post with nobody picking up the man caused their goal. There appears to be no organisation at set pieces . It was interesting to see Cech taking control at a subsequent free kick moving Sokratis from the wall to the back post and then having to scream at Maitland Niles to cover the gap . This is the job of the senior Centre back , but who is that ?

    3 – 1 however should be enough to take away , as already said 1 goal and they need too many . We have a week to sort out the back line with Brighton in the middle . Surely whatever tactic we are to use in Spain must be rehearsed on Sunday.

  17. Congs,if we where playing in the Priemiership infectious mob we where to lose this game. Thanks for the professionalism of the refs from other countries.That is Why with their professionalism they will be in the World Cup officiating because they know what they are doing. We are winning this because we will be having neutral officials,mark my words. Lets Go GUNNERS.

  18. Porter

    “There appears to be no organisation at set pieces.”

    That may well of been the case last night, at least in the instance of the goal we conceded, but I’m not so sure this is indicative of a particularly worry trait or not.

    Things may or may not of gone wrong with the way we are currently defending set pieces but I’m sure that we went very deep into the season before we conceded our first goal from a set piece.

    I’ve been looking high and low for the stats (PL/Europe) regarding goals conceded from set pieces and I cant find them.

    If anyone could help I would appreciate it because I thought, taken over the season, we were actually ok regarding set pieces.

    Anybody help ?

  19. Our defence were caught by the first goal because Xhaka pushed Mustafi instead of backing into Diakhabi to put off his header. Valencia were very well prepared to take advantage of their qualities. They outpaced us in several areas but our defence backed each other well with timely tackles.

    The Referee was not the same standard of those in the Champions league semis. He favoured the fallen as opposed to the fouled.

    The one incident that really stands out is the tackle round Torreiras neck during the final goal. The Referee was in clear position and should have acted after the goal with an appropriate card. Initially I thought Torreira had a damaged leg as the defender accidentally kicked him after Torreira was brought down.

    3 – 1 is not a bad score to take with us but there is no telling what will happen in Spain. Emery’s 50/50 is still a fair prediction.

  20. No Tony, I’m not suggesting we charge more than anybody else or I would have said so. I’m saying that our charges are high, which you cannot dispute.
    I just cannot understand people paying so much and not staying for the entire performance.

  21. Referee’s should be trained to spot obvious fouls, and reward players for not going down. Commentators should be trained to praise players who don’t go down and criticise players who do. VAR should be used to help with such decisions.

  22. btw, I read this site because of it’s intelligent viewpoints and use of interesting stats. Sometimes though, I want to read more but I’m not sure where else to go. Can anyone recommend any other intelligent Arsenal sites or blogs? During the “Wenger-Out” pandemic it was easy to sift out the dim-witted. It’s less obvious and more time-consuming to do so now.

  23. Dear Bulldog ,
    Your statement above that, ‘ But despite these items of note, the fact remains we have only won two European trophies – the Fairs cup in 1970 and the Cup Winners Cup in 1994 (against Valencia!)’, is actually wrong as we beat Parma that year. By 1-0, of course !

    We did lose to Valencia in 1980 in the final of the Cup Winners Cup , on penalties . A few days after losing to West Ham in the FA Cup.

  24. There’s also an Untold lite blog (Positively Arsenal) which has some great articles, but I’m not mad about the comments section TBH, and two other blogs worth a mention (apart from the venerable Arseblog) are the USA concentric 7amkickoff (bit erratic) & A Cultured Left Foot, but the blogger there has some recent health issues which I hope he recovers from ASAP.

  25. Jesse you must be deluded if you think that intelligent viewpoints and this site go hand in hand .Menace and the like are so adrift of intelligence its frightening.Especially on a footballing note.

  26. OT watching the spuds at Bournemouth & the number of spuds fouls not seen by the Officials is frightening. Son got a red for hitting out at an opponent but Dier should have had 2 yellows for clear fouls where he’s kicked an opponent. One of which should have been a penalty. In fact Bournemouth should have had a penalty when Loris brought down Wilson in a one on one without touching the ball.

    PGMOL decide who wins and who gets CL next season via EPL.

  27. Pawson is the official at Bournemouth. We have the pleasure of Anthony Taylor, His love for Arsenal is legendary. He has cheated Arsenal of more points than any other in EPL.

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