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

16 Sep 2010 18:00:40

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

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? 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. 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. 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. 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. Level best: Thomas Vermaelen pokes in Arsenal's leveller against Standard Liege 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. 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.  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. 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. At the double: Robin Van Persie celebrates his goals with Emmanuel Adebayor 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. 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. 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.  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. 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. Off the mark: Theo Walcott celebrates scoring his first Champions League goal 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. 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.  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. 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. Heartbreak: Thierry Henry could not believe it after Arsenal was knocked out 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. When Alex scored an own goal early in the second-half, the momentum seemed to have swung in the Londoners favour. 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.  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. 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. You're off: Jens Lehmann is red carded after bringing down Barca's Samuel Eto'o 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. 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. 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.  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


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