Why are always consistently awful in Europe?

Why are Arsenal so bad in Europe? by ThirdMan JW

We have just come off the back of yet another dreadful performance in Europe, and it got me thinking, why are we so bad in Europe? Historically, we have a terrible record on the European stage dating back to the 63-64 season, that pales in comparison to many other English clubs. Why though? Arsenal are the third biggest club in the history of the domestic English game, yet when it comes to Europe, we consistently fail!

Our woeful performance last night was clearly due to some bizarre decisions from Arteta, but it’s not just him. We saw far worse under Wenger, and for a lot longer, and even Emery, who owns the EL (Europa League), got spanked in the final. Are we just cursed when it comes to European competition?

Even in that first decade when Wenger was at his best, and we had an unbelievably good team, we still couldn’t win a European trophy. Although I do feel sorry for Wenger! To this day, I still believe we would have won the CL (Champions League) if it wasn’t for the sending off. Very proud that he managed to get us to our first ever CL final though. It’s always bloody Barca!

This is why I don’t mind a season or more out of Europe, because it’s just too depressing. I never have any confidence watching these games. The stats are just as depressing:

We haven’t won a European trophy for 27 years
Only 1 appearance in a European final over the last 15 years
Only 1 appearance in the CL final
Only 2 appearances in the CL semi-final
Only 2 victories from 8 European finals (or 2 from 7 if discounting the European Super Cup 1994)
We have lost our last 5 European finals (or 4 if discounting the European Super Cup 1994)

Other English clubs in Europe, in order (order is open to interpretation):

Abbreviations – CL (Champions League/European Cup), EL (Europa League/UEFA Cup), CWC (Cup Winners Cup), ICF (Inter-Cities Fairs Cup)
ESC (European Super Cup)* technically a trophy, but is also open to interpretation.

Liverpool – CL x6, EL x3, ESC x4
Man Utd – CL x3, EL x1, CWC x1, ESC x1
Nottm Forest – CL x2, ESC x1
Chelsea – CL x1, EL x2, CWC x2, ESC x1
Aston Villa – CL x1, ESC x1
Spurs – EL x2, CWC x1
Ipswich – EL x1
Arsenal – CWC x1, ICF x1
West Ham – CWC x1
Man City – CWC x1
Everton – CWC x1
Leeds – ICF x2
Newcastle – ICF x1

It’s maybe a strange theory, but I have always believed that history dictates a club’s chances in any competition. Whether it be a good or bad history in a certain competition, it follows a club around, irrespective of players, managers, owners at any given time. Helping or hindering them.

Some good examples:

I have lost count the number of times Real Madrid have been struggling in the league, in the midst of a crisis, sacking managers all the time, yet they always seem to turn it on when it matters in the CL. Another potential win this season as well, in what’s been a very up-and-down season.

How many years were Liverpool dreadful in the league, yet they do it in Europe.

Ourselves. Arsenal failing in one competition after another, yet because we own the FA Cup, that’s when we always produce the goods. Even as bad as we were last season, we still managed to win yet another FA Cup.

Tottenham are the bottlers of all bottlers. It seems to haunt them every time they’re on the verge of victory.

So, what do you think, can you explain our poor record in Europe? Does it all centre around historical performance? It will be interesting to hear from the older fans on this because they may have seen our European adventures right from the beginning.


Tags Europe


  1. Spending a lot of money to buy high profile players is useless if there’s a lack of control from the top of the hierarchy. I bet some fans thought some of our cheap ex-players like Walcott, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Koscielny, Nasri, Arshavin, Song and Denilson hindered our progress

    Kroenke must’ve also thought getting more superstars could change his fortune, so he spent more than 400 M to buy the likes Xhaka, Mustafi, Ozil, Sanchez, Lacazette, Aubameyang, Pepe and Partey. He doesn’t seem to understand football at all and showed a lack of supervision

    We’ve had three managers and different players since our last EPL trophy, yet we still can’t get another major trophy. It’s been more than fifteen years, so the main problem must be the company’s culture, the executives’ negligence, bad decisions and bad work ethic

    Our cheap ex-players were easier to control than our current 30+ M players, so we probably have to rely on the latest scouting technology than buying new expensive players. Man City have been collecting hot prospects from South America, therefore we need to catch up with our connections

  2. I actually want us out of Europe next season. For own good. I think we’d bounce back quite well.

    Like man united a few seasons ago.

  3. If winning trophies especially the Champions League is the standard then these past 20 years apart from Bayern, Real Madrid, and Barcelona everyone else has been poor in Europe.
    Dortmund, Juve, Milan Inter, Roma PSG, Man United, Liverpool Spurs, Chelsea, Everton have all been poor.
    Despite the billions spent on PSG Man Sheiky Chelski their European trophy wins have been minimal. Arsenal got out of the group stage virtually every season for 17 years under Wenger. Now in the EL semis twice in three years is very good.
    Even with a terrible league season the club is on the verge of CL football again.
    Perhaps things are better than many think?

  4. “Tottenham are the bottlers of all bottlers” 😂 😂 😂
    This right here has made my day 😂 😂

  5. Haven’t seen all these games but last EL was obviously a team missing a CD, DM, and a winger.

    Same.goes for EPL, we came really close because of our lack of options in these positions.

    Precisly we all and Emery retain from that season. It gave us hope and belief that we would even be champion with right additions.

    Emery asked for Partey, Zaha, Maguire and we all agreed as all football world, this would take us higher.

    Emery lost Kos, and got Luiz imposed, Ceballos instead of Partey and Pepe instead of Zaha.

    Get fired! Arteta got Gabriel, Chambers and Mari available. And indeed got Partey and even Odengar.

    Yet, we are doing worst than ever in EPL and facing a team we should beat any day, a way bigger & better squad.

    But look at the team Arteta plays.

    Our back 4: Bellerin is our only real.and experienced RB and Cedric our most reliable option on both wings, can play LB, we saw that.

    In middle, Partey is alone to cover that weaker back 4. No Elneny who is a DM or at least Xhaka who played as LB now. Arteta picks Ceballos who is no DM, gets. a red

    Pepe, Rowe, Saka as front 3, we do obviously miss a striker; but have Laca & Auba; worldclass hunger and experience.

    This is supposed to be 2 games before final, and Arteta manages to pull yet another unreal move; most retarded one ever.

    Emery probably couldnt believe it and gave a coaching lesson to the assistant coach replacing him with players he dreamed of.

    No bad luck but actually lucky for Villareal to not kill and destroy game before half time.

    They controled the game and we looked lost as tac tic imposed to players played out of position in every lines.

    I guess let’s blame it on Xhaka poor perfirmance or Rowe for not turning to a striker or Ceballos for being picked and red carded as a DM!

    No, this is no bad luck, but a boomerang coming back as it was when thrown.

    Trickeries from Kroenke is why we not winning, and a portion of fans backing him up with Wenger out signs.

    Now boomerang is back, his Pepe trick to blind us all to forget Zaha who was cheaper. Palace wanted full payement and Lille accepted a.n nstallement plan.

    He got cheap coach option, picking Arteta to trick us emotionnaly because our captain that we will actually happily support…

    Our bad luck is named : Kroenke.

    He is ruining this club for a decade strong, and has all shares…

    it isno bad luck when we finsh second in top 4, or Europe final but a miracle, we always been missing 2 to 4 players to compete because of cheap Kroenke

    But not this season, we have a better Squad then Emery & Wenger, in past decade. Always missing a either a top striker in Suarez, or a DM in Kante Wenger begged to bring after paying for sradium. And of course a top CB we still do not have but more quality and option in ages…

    Kroenke been our bad luck for ages and he gets his boomerang back.

    Arteta, Luiz, Ceballos Willian i forgot have all contributed to our poor year. And Pepe indeed a trick at this price Kroenke is paying for til this day.

    A portion of fans are also getting their boomerang: “Wenger out” and for 18 months all behind Arteta no matter what; repeating how Wenger ruined this club….

    Wenger built & develloped the best academy in UK, a legacy with great moments, a stadium and 20 years in CL with no money but his academy, mocked with a bunch of kids!

    He spoiled fans throwing him out from home he built from us. Week after weeks; these awful & shamfull sign for Arsenal and football history.

    Like doing this to Sir Alex, some don’t even realize but this is what we pay for and Kroenke we helped kick Prof out with these signs for the all world to see a shocker; fans ruining club legacy and what precisly made this club be loved and envied by all! A shame to the world since those signs; going from a top 4-6 team to a midtable team in 18 months time!

    No bad luck in finals at all, a cheap tricky owner and a poisoning portion of our fans.

    In result we have our best squad but an assistant coach missing main attribute to become a coach: brain or at least common sense..

    Benches our top strikers, ruins middle & defense, players get the blame!

    18 months, finishing 8th, but blinding us with a Cup; Kroenke keeps cheap option, named manager!

    His last trick is Superleague, boomerang came right back.

    Time for him to get the hell out with his board and coach for a total clean up…Get that curse Kroenke out!

  6. Its funny how ” gotanidea” does not count winning the FA cup as a major trophy. Sorry mate but I totally believe that it is. Do not believe the hyp. Had Man Who been the team that had won it the most it would be classed as such in the press. The FA cup is our major cup in the UK and as such is a major achievement for any team to win. So just for the record. Last season, not a good season as far as the league positon was concerned but as least we came out of it with a Major cup, The FA Cup. Not bad for a poor season. Cherry on the top. No other cub has won it more times than The Arsenal (14).

  7. A wonderful article TMJW and with facts too! I really enjoyed reading it, very well written. It’s true we had the team to win it in the early 2000s but as you have said and giving very good examples it seems history really do play a part.

    We were eliminated in the quarter finals in the invincibles season by Chelsea who were not that good before Mourinho in a season with weak teams in the semis. We had a far better team than all the semi finalists. We should have won it that season.

  8. In the recent past Arsenal teams in Europe particularly in Wenger’s latter years lacked quality, tactical discipline and the necessary psychological resilience to navigate difficult challenges. There were similar weaknesses evident in the PL as the years passed.
    For all the brilliance of some of Wenger’s teams there was clearly a brittleness that became apparent in certain difficult games/seasons.

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