For 20 years (1996-2016) in the reign of Arsene Wenger as manager of Arsenal, the North London club took pride in always qualifying for the Champions League.
In those 20 years in the Champions League, Arsenal’s best performance was in 2006 where they lost to Barcelona in the final.
Lost European joy.
A Semi Final appearance in the 2008/2009 season. Quarter final appearances in the 2003/2004 season & 2007/2008 season.
For SIX straight seasons, between the 2010/2011 season and 2015/2016 seasons, Arsenal got knocked out of the champions league in the round of 16 stage.
The harsh reality was that, Arsenal were never a Champions League level team, suffering famous bashings in the hands of Barcelona and Bayern Munich with the Bavarians hammering Arsenal 5-1 at home and another 5-1 away from home to make for a 10-2 aggregate. Bizzare, poor and pathetic.
In Wenger’s last year as Arsenal manager, in the 2017/2018 Season however, after a rare 5th placed finish in the League, Wenger’s side found themselves playing in the Europa League.
At first, Arsenal fans felt their ego was too big for Thursday night football.
But, with time, reality began to hit them right in the face- The Europa League is Arsenal’s level.
Arsenal got knocked out by eventual champions, Atletico Madrid in the Semi Finals, but then, a new fresh breathe of air moved around North London- Arsenal got to play in the Semi final of an European Club competition it took ten good years.
The appointment of Unai Emery as Arsenal’s manager perhaps signified Arsenal’s intent on doing well in the Europa League with the Spaniard having a reputation of winning the Europa League three times.
Emery did take Arsenal to the final of the Europa League, one level better than his predecessor Arsene Wenger.
The result of the final, a 4-1 bashing in the hands of Chelsa stands shameful.
The Established joy.
Emery and his Arsenal side have wasted no time showing they are the Champions elect of the 2019/2020 Europa League campaign.
A 3-0 thrashing of Frankfurt, followed by a 4-0 thrashing of Standard Liege showing Arsenal’s comfort in the competition. Seven goals in two matches and two clean sheets very rare for Arsenal.
Unai Emery has won 19 of his last 21 home Europa League matches across spells with Sevilla and Arsenal, including the last six in a row.
For Arsenal fans now, Thursday night football is no longer boring, as Arsenal have found a new European joy via the Europa League.