Sportsmail looks back at why Arsenal's fast starts in Europe always seem to come to a standstill

16 September 2010 06:00
Following Arsenal's 6-0 win over Braga in the Champions League, Gunners fans may feel this could finally be their year in Europe. But haven't we been here before?[LNB]Arsene Wenger's side all too often bully smaller teams in to submission, but are often given a taste of their own medicine in the later rounds of the competition.[LNB]With Arsenal's wait for a trophy now approaching six years, Sportsmail takes a brief look at their last five Champions League campaigns, and how their fast starts always seem to come to a standstill.[LNB]2009/10How did the group stage go?Arsenal's  first match at Standard Liege got off to the worse possible start, going 2-0 down inside five minutes. But they recorded a stunning comeback, scoring twice late on through Thomas Vermaelen and Eduardo to secure a 3-2 win.[LNB]They were never troubled from that game onwards with a 1-0 defeat at Olympiakos in their last game coming after they had already secured top spot - three points ahead of the Greek side and a further eight in front of next nearest rivals Liege.[LNB] Level best: Thomas Vermaelen pokes in Arsenal's leveller against Standard Liege[LNB]But where did it go wrong?After a Nicklas Bendtner hat-trick helped see off Porto in the last 16, Arsenal were pitted against current holders Barcelona in the quarter-finals.[LNB]Having gone two goals down, a gutsy performance at home to secure a 2-2 draw boded well for the Nou Camp. But Lionel Messi took centre stage in Spain to score four times and easily dump Wenger's men out of the tournament.[LNB] 2008/09How did the group stage go?Some big results in their group matches saw thrashings handed out to Porto 4-0 - two goals apiece from Robin Van Persie and Emmanuel Adebayor - and an even more impressive 5-2 at Fenerbahce. Both after a 1-1 draw away at Dynamo Kiev.[LNB]But the Gunners failed to top the group as despite having already qualified, a 2-0 defeat to Porto saw them finish as group runners-up three points ahead of Kiev.[LNB] At the double: Robin Van Persie celebrates his goals with Emmanuel Adebayor[LNB]But where did it go wrong?A nervous penalty shoot-out win in Roma was followed by a more comfortable 4-1 aggregate win against Villarreal in the quarter-finals. The semi-finals would be an all-English affair with Manchester United.[LNB]Arsenal survived an onslaught at Old Trafford to take back a 1-0 deficit to the Emirates, but they came undone to a Manchester United side in stunning form.[LNB]The tie was effectively over after 11 minutes when a Cristiano Ronaldo-inspired United had already gone 2-0 up. United cruised to a 3-1 victory, denying the Gunners a place in the Champions League final.[LNB] 2007/08How did the group stage go?Emphatically. Arsenal handed out home beatings to Sevilla 3-0 and Slavia Prague 7-0 - Theo Walcott grabbing his first Champions League goal in the latter -  sandwiched between a 1-0 win at Steaua Bucharest.[LNB]By the time they lost at Sevilla in the return fixture, the Gunners had already qualified and went in to the last 16 as group runners-up.[LNB] Off the mark: Theo Walcott celebrates scoring his first Champions League goal[LNB]But where did it all go wrong?It looked bleak for Arsenal after a 0-0 draw at the Emirates against AC Milan. But late goals from Cesc Fabregas and Emmanuel Adebayor secured a memorable 2-0 victory at the San Siro to book a quarter-final against Liverpool.[LNB]After again drawing at the Emirates, Arsenal looked to be going through on away goals when Adebayor made it 2-2 after 84 minutes at Anfield. But a controversial penalty from Steven Gerrard followed by a Ryan Babel effort, left this Euro exit a bitter taste in the mouth.[LNB] 2006/07How did the group stage go?Another unbeaten start saw Arsenal win 2-1 at Hamburg. But they suffered a setback in their third and fourth games where they lost 1-0 at CSKA Moscow before being held 0-0 at home by the Russians.[LNB]Once again qualification was secured before the final game after defeating Hamburg 3-1 and a draw at Porto in their last group match sealed top spot.[LNB] Heartbreak: Thierry Henry could not believe it after Arsenal was knocked out [LNB]But where did it go wrong?In the very next round having lost 1-0 at PSV, Arsene Wenger's side were still favourites to reach the next round with the second leg at the Emirates.[LNB]When Alex scored an own goal early in the second-half, the momentum seemed to have swung in the Londoners favour.[LNB]However, the now Chelsea centre-back made amends when he equalised late on in the 83rd minute, crucially grabbing an away goal, dumping out the previous season's finalists 2-1 on aggregate, leaving a frustrated Thierry Henry on his knees.[LNB] 2005/06How did the group stage go?No thrashings in this group campaign, but easy qualification. Against Swiss minnows Thun, Dennis Bergkamp scored in injury-time to seal a 2-1 win at Highbury, sparing Arsenal's blushes.[LNB]Victory in their next three games secured qualification with two games still to play. Only a draw at home to Ajax in the final round of matches denied the Gunners a 100 per cent record.[LNB] You're off: Jens Lehmann is red carded after bringing down Barca's Samuel Eto'o[LNB]But where did it go wrong?Arsenal had Europe running scared when in consecutive rounds they knocked out both Real Madrid and Juventus without conceding a goal.[LNB]In the semi-finals they needed a bit of luck to see off a Villarreal side, with Jens Lehmann saving a last minute penalty in Spain, to see Arsenal through to the final 1-0 on aggregate.[LNB]Lady luck ran out in the final against Barcelona. Despite being down to 10 men after goalkeeper Jens Lehmann was sent off, Sol Campbell opened the scoring. But two second-half strikes from Samuel Eto'o and Juliano Belletti ended Arsenal's superb defensive record, and with it their Champions League's hopes. [LNB]  Arsenal 6 Braga 0: Cesc Fabregas fires Gunners to stunning Champions League win You haven't seen the best of Cesc Fabregas yet! Gael Clichy fires warning to Arsenal's rivals ARSENAL FC

Source: Daily_Mail