Arsenal have had to wait a long time to hear the iconic Champions League anthem played at the Emirates, but those glory nights under the lights are finally back, with the Gunners facing PSV in the group stages of the competition.
Upon their return to Europe’s top table, Football FanCast has ranked 20 of Arsenal’s best Champions League moments.
2005/06: Bergkamp rescues Arsenal late on
Champions League minnows FC Thun were plying their trade in non-league eight years prior to this fixture and were expected to be rolled over with ease. But it certainly didn’t pan out like that.
Arsenal had to play with 10 men for much of the match after Robin van Persie received a straight red card for catching Alen Orman in the face with his boot.
The Gunners found themselves frustrated by the Swiss outfit and appeared to be heading towards a shock draw before Dennis Bergkamp struck home a dramatic stoppage-time winner to spare his side’s blushes.
2000/01: Parlour screamer downs Valencia
Arsenal came back from 1-0 down against La Liga giants Valencia to secure a 2-1 victory in the Champions League quarter-finals.
Thierry Henry levelled the score in the 58th minute before Ray Parlour netted a thunderous strike from distance two minutes later to put the north Londoners ahead.
Unfortunately, the second leg saw the Spanish side advance on away goals after winning 1-0 at the Mestalla.
Valencia went on to reach the final before suffering a heartbreaking defeat to Bayern Munich on penalties.
2003/04: Ashley Cole keeps Gunners alive
Bonfire Night in 2003 produced an electrifying atmosphere at Highbury after Ashley Cole netted an 88th-minute winner to clinch a 1-0 victory against Dynamo Kyiv.
The all-important result kept Arsenal’s Champions League dreams afloat as they went on to win their final two group games to qualify for the knockout stages of the competition.
The Gunners reached the quarter-finals before suffering a late 3-2 aggregate defeat to London rivals Chelsea.
2005/06: Highbury bids farewell to CL nights
Kolo Toure’s first-half strike was enough to seal a 1-0 win against Villarreal in the semi-finals of the Champions League, in a game that saw a squirrel famously invade the field of play.
It was also Arsenal’s final European fixture at Highbury, so the victory was a fitting farewell to the historic stadium.
Wenger’s men went on to reach the Champions League final after holding the Spaniards to a goalless draw in the second leg at El Madrigal.
2002/03: Gilberto and Arsenal thrash PSV
Arsenal secured a thumping 4-0 away victory against PSV in the group stages of the 2002/03 competition. Gilberto Silva broke the record for the fastest Champions League goal after netting inside 21 seconds.
Thierry Henry scored a late brace and Freddie Ljungberg also found himself on the scoresheet to complete the demolition job in the Netherlands.
Dennis Bergkamp also played in his first European away game in two years.
2013/14: Özil truly arrives
The summer of 2013 saw Arsenal obliterate their transfer record to sign Real Madrid playmaker Mesut Özil for a whopping £42.4m.
The German’s first goal in Arsenal colours came in their Champions League opener against Napoli as he beautifully caressed home a side-footed effort from just inside the box.
Özil scored seven goals whilst laying on 14 assists in his debut campaign in north London, so not bad going…
2001/02: Leverkusen played off the park
Arsenal played the eventual finalists Bayer Leverkusen off the park as the French trio of Robert Pires, Thierry Henry and Patrick Vieira all got themselves on the scoresheet.
But it was the Dutchman Bergkamp who scored the pick of the goals as he turned his man on the edge of the area and cheekily dinked the ball over the helpless Hans-Jörg Butt.
Despite a dazzling display by the Gunners, they were dumped out of the competition in the second group phase after finishing third.
2007/08: Arsenal turn on style against Slavia
Wenger’s men completely dominated their Czech opponents as they recorded the club’s biggest-ever Champions League victory. The fluidity of the play was a joy to watch and some of the goals scored were out of this world.
The Gunners came second to Sevilla in their group that year and reached the last eight of the competition before suffering a 5-3 aggregate defeat by Liverpool. A cruel exit for the north Londoners.
Football purists will certainly enjoy watching this highlight reel, below.
2005/06: Fabregas takes Arsenal past Vieira’s Juventus
18-year-old Cesc Fabregas gave his predecessor Patrick Vieira the run-around in Arsenal’s quarter-final victory against Turin titans Juventus.
The young Spaniard announced himself on the big stage when he struck home a 20-yard effort past Juve shot-stopper Gianluigi Buffon. Theirry Henry added a second to secure a memorable win for the Gunners on their way to the Champions League final.
Vieira’s Highbury homecoming was certainly not a happy one…
2014/15: Ramsey rocket smashes Galatasaray
Aaron Ramsey netted a superb brace in Arsenal’s 4-1 away victory against Galatasaray in December 2014. But notwithstanding his marvellous first effort, it was his second goal that will live long in the memories of Gunners fans.
The Welshman rocketed home a 35-yard half-volley on his weaker peg, to the amazement of Wojciech Szczesny, who could hardly believe what he had witnessed.
Surely one of the best Champions League goals in recent history…
2007/08: Walcott mesmerises Liverpool
Despite a defeat on the night for the Gunners, thus exiting the competition, they displayed some thrilling moments at Anfield and were minutes away from advancing to the semi-finals.
Theo Walcott was at his scintillating best when he drove from well within his own half, past several players and into the Liverpool box before squaring the ball to Emmanuel Adebayor, who stroked the ball past Pepe Reina.
A debatable penalty call ultimately cost Wenger’s side from reaching the last four.
2005/06: Henry becomes Arsenal’s greatest goalscorer
Henry, despite not being fully fit, scored a brace as a substitute against Sparta Prague to overtake Ian Wright as the club’s highest goalscorer.
His first strike was particularly impressive as he brought the ball down with the outside of his foot before caressing home a half-volley ‘trivela’.
The Frenchman’s second – which broke the record – was a proper striker’s finish and an important one at that, giving the Gunners a two-goal cushion to seal the three points.
2005/06: Gunners fall at historic final hurdle
10-man Arsenal put in a battling performance against Catalan giants Barcelona in the 2006 Champions League final and were 13 minutes away from glory.
Sol Campbell’s 37th-minute header looked set to be the winning goal for the Gunners until two late efforts from Barca derailed their European dream.
And with the lengthy period of time that they led, it was a great moment for the fans in Paris and around the globe as the Gunners came within touching distance of the ultimate glory.
It also came just 10 days after pipping rivals Tottenham Hotspur to fourth place in the league.
2007/08: Milan humbled at San Siro
Arsenal became the first English side to beat Milan at the San Siro after Wenger’s men struck twice late on to advance to the quarter-finals.
Cesc Fabregas fired home a low driven effort from 30 yards in the 84th minute before Emmanuel Adebayor added a second in stoppage time to seal the historic win which knocked the reigning champions out of the competition.
2016/17: Özil magic completes Ludogorets comeback
Mesut Özil scored a quite mesmeric 87th-minute winner to complete a comeback against Bulgarian outfit Ludogorets, who were 2-0 up inside 15 minutes.
The clip of his goal has been played millions of times on social media platforms which evinces just how brilliant the piece of skill and finish was.
Özil netted 12 goals and provided 15 assists that season.
2002/03: Henry nets superb hat-trick
Thierry Henry put on an absolute mastercalss in the capital of Italy as Arsenal breezed past Roma in their second group phase match.
Henry sealed his hat-trick with a beautiful curling free-kick past the helpless Francesco Antonioli in goal, marking a near-perfect solo performance on Europe’s highest stage.
He scored 32 goals that season whilst laying on 28 assists. A truly insane record…
2005/06: Lehmann heroics seal trip to Paris
With Arsenal mere moments away from securing their place in a first Champions League final, they were dealt a blow as Russian referee Ivan Ivanov gave the home side a late penalty for a soft Gael Clichy foul.
Juan Roman Riquelme stepped up to take the tie to an extra period, but Lehmann held his nerve, diving to his left to keep the Argentinian out.
Arsenal’s tilt at Champions League glory may have been in vain, but moments like this made the journey nothing short of spectacular.
2003/04: Arsenal secure epic result v Inter
Making the podium of our selections is… Arsenal’s 5-1 victory away at the San Siro in 2003.
Arsenal needed to win to stay alive in the group and thumped Inter with four second-half goals to leave the Italians shell-shocked.
Henry once again inspired the Gunners to victory as he netted the opener before adding a second in the 81st minute to give his side a two-goal cushion.
The all-important result put the north Londoners a win away from reaching the knockout stages of the Champions League.
2005/06: Henry masterclass sees off Real
Again, a Thierry Henry moment makes the list! The Frenchman’s marvellous second-half strike was enough to seal victory in Spain’s capital at the imposing Santiago Bernabeu. It was the first time an English side had ever beaten Madrid on their own soil.
The second leg of the knockout tie produced a goalless draw, thus sending the European giants crashing out of the competion and Arsenal through to the last eight.
Their star-studded XI was frustrated by the brilliance of Jens Lehmann at Highbury, as the German kept his side in the game with several magnificent saves, notably from Real hitman Raul.
2010/11: Gunners hit Barca back in classic
Arguably the greatest-ever night at the Emirates and FFC’s best Arsenal Champions League moment… the 2-1 victory over Pep Guardiola’s famed tiki-taka Barcelona side.
The Gunners went 1-0 down after Lionel Messi played through David Villa, who made no mistake in finding the goal – and that looked likely to be the winner.
That was until Robin van Persie equalised with 12 minutes left to play before Andrey Arshavin netted a lovely curling effort five minutes later, which turned out to be the winner.
The fixture is also widely remembered for 19-year-old Jack Wilshere’s midfield masterclass.