Arsenal have a great history, and part of that has included ground – and record – breaking wins in Europe.
In the Champions League, no team has ever lost 3-1 in the first leg at home and progressed, but all hope is not lost.
First Time For Everything
AC Milan and Internazionale at San Siro. Real Madrid at the Bernabéu. Bayern Munich’s Allianz Arena and Borussia Dortmund’s Westfalenstadion.
Under Arsène Wenger’s tenure Arsenal have become the first English side to win at each of those famous venues, against the very elite sides of Europe.
Those records are of a different nature, but they show that Arsène Wenger certainly won’t be fazed by the challenge of doing what hasn’t yet been done.
Nor will his players – most of the current squad were around for the wins in Munich and Dortmund, both in 2013.
The win over Inter Milan is the only one of those which came with a scoreline (Inter 1-5 Arsenal) which would see Arsenal through on Tuesday night but, incidentally, also came after a humbling at home.
Inter Milan bettered Monaco by winning 3-0 at Highbury against the side which would go on to become the Invincibles. The return fixture saw Arsenal without Lauren, Gilberto Silva, Patrick Vieira, and Dennis Bergkamp.
It mattered not.
Chelsea. Deportivo La Coruna. Barcelona. Monaco themselves.
Despite staging them at home, all of these sides have produced comebacks to overturn a result of at least 3-1 in the first leg result of a Champions League tie.
Chelsea needed extra-time to overcome Napoli three years ago after losing 3-1 in Naples. Going back to the 1999/2000 season Barcelona also required extra-time but eventually overcame Chelsea, following a 3-1 loss at Stamford Bridge.
Incredibly Deportivo La Coruna defeated AC Milan 4-0 in the second leg, having lost a first leg 4-1 at the home of the Italian giants.
And Tuesday’s opponents? Their fans will know full well what is possible.
In 2004 Monaco lost 4-2 against Europe’s most successful side, Real Madrid. ‘The Galacticos’ led the tie 5-2 just before half-time, after Raul had given them the lead on the night.
A comeback inspired by future Barcelona player Ludovic Giuly and on-loan Real Madrid man Fernando Morientes saw Monaco net three times in 21 minutes, and advance on away goals.
Arsenal themselves have ‘enjoyed’ (been painstakingly frustrated) by strong second leg performances in recent years. The last time we made the quarter-finals we overcame a 2-1 loss away to Porto to win the home leg 5-0.
Since then we have won 3-0 against AC Milan (3-4 on aggregate) and 2-0 away against Bayern Munich (3-3, out on away goals) to no avail.
Arsenal have the players capable of a famous victory, but everything has to go right. We have to be sensible and pragmatic. We have to take our chances.
The chances are slim but this tie is far from over – we’re only at half-time. The way we shot ourselves in the foot in the first leg looks like it will be too damaging to repair, but it doesn’t leave us with no chance at all.
European history suggests we’ve once again left ourselves too much to do.
Our own history tells us that means nothing.