Arsenal’s History in European Football



Arsenal is a team with a rich history of winning trophies in some of the best most prestigious competitions in the UK. Over the course of their 100 years in the top division of English football, the Gunners have won thirteen EFL and Premier League titles, two League Cups, fifteen FA Community Shields, and an astonishing thirteen FA Cups, more than any other English team.

European titles, however, are in much shorter supply for the Gunners and, as the Arsenal look to go one further than their runners up position and lift the Europa League Trophy, we’ll be looking at what honors the Gunners have won on the continent and Arsenal’s overall history in European football.

Modern European Competitions

Unfortunately, the Gunners have yet to lift a trophy in any of the major modern European competitions, despite reaching the finals of the Europa League in 2019, the UEFA Cup in 2000, and becoming the team from London to play in a UEFA Champions League final, in 2006.

For the past three seasons, Arsenal has had to be content with playing in the Europa League and, while many fans look down on the EL as not as good as the Champion’s League, the fact remains that it pits Arsenal against some of the best clubs in Europe.

Even with the disappointment of not qualifying for the CL and facing opposition like Manchester United, Inter Milan, and ten-times winner Sevilla, Arsenal have still proven their ability to perform on the European stage, placing as runners up in 2018–19 and being given solid 8/1 odds by Betway of being the winner of the 2019–20 Europe League despite a tough first knockout match versus Olympiakos.

1970 Inter-Cities Fairs Cup

Arsenal’s first European match up was in 1963, some 44 years after they were first promoted to the top flight of English football, and was played against Copenhagen XI in September of that year.

The Gunners wouldn’t win their first trophy on the continent until the 1970 Inter-Cities Fairs Cup. The Inter-Cities Fairs Cup is considered by football historians to be the pre-cursor to the UEFA Cup.

As the name suggests, the tournament, which ran between 1955-71, was initially developed to pit teams from cities that had hosted world trade fairs and was accurately referred to by Vice as “European football’s strange and forgotten grandfather.”

The Inter-Cities Fairs Cup would eventually morph into the UEFA Cup, which many see as the precursor to the current Europa League. Arsenal never managed to win the UEFA Cup, which ran for 1971 to 2010, but they did reach the finals in 2000, only to lose to Turkish team Galatasaray.

Interestingly, the English teams that qualified for the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup did not have to have placed well in their respective leagues to get entry. Arsenal finished fourth in 1969, qualifying, because of having hosted an international trade fair, alongside Liverpool, who came in second; Southampton, who came in seventh; and Newcastle, who placed ninth.

Because only one team from each city was eligible to qualify, teams like Everton, Chelsea, Tottenham, and West Ham were not able to qualify, despite placing better in the then Division One.

The Cup Winners’ Cup

The Cup Winners’ Cup was a pan-European competition set up to pit the winners of domestic league cup competitions, like the FA Cup, against each other. The Cup Winners’ Cup ran for 39 seasons before being amalgamated, along with some other European competitions, in the UEFA Cup in 2000.

Because of their success in winning the 1993 FA Cup, Arsenal qualified for the 1994 Cup Winners’ Cup and went on to beat Parma in the finals of the cup to secure their second European trophy.

They had previously reached the finals in 1980 and would return to the Cup Winners’ Cup in 1995, having won the 1994 FA Cup, and would reach the finals again before being beaten by the Spanish side, Real Zaragoza.

All to Play For

Despite not having a cabinet full of silverware from European competitions, Arsenals repeated appearances at the top level of Europeans football, and their fantastic domestic record, show that they have the skills to compete with the best teams on the continent and perhaps bring home this years Europa League Trophy.


One Reply to “Arsenal’s History in European Football”

  1. I don’t believe that we won the FA Cup in 1994. We must have qualified for the 1995 European Cup Winners Cup as the current holders

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