It’s been five years since Arsenal last competed in a Champions League last-16 first-leg tie, and a lot has changed since that 5-1 aggregate loss to Bayern Munich.
The UCL returns tonight, with the reds and Manchester City representing the Premier League in this week’s edition, while Manchester United and current champions Chelsea will compete in next week edition
The best of the last-16 ties is PSG against Real Madrid, which pits Sergio Ramos against his former club and Lionel Messi against his previous for the first time since leaving Barcelona.
That was against Bayern Munich, and supporters will not want to be reminded of the score at the Allianz Arena, nor of the total aggregate score in what turned out to be Arsene Wenger’s final Champions League away game.
And the Frenchman was stumped as to why his team capitulated in the second half after going into the break equal and with a vital away goal.
“It’s tough to put into words. Just before halftime, I thought we had two decent chances to score “According to BT Sport, Wenger said. “For the second goal, I thought we were unlucky. At first, the referee awarded us a corner.
“Then we let up the second goal, and the worst blow was losing Koscielny. We came to a halt.
“Overall, I’d say they’re a better team than us; they performed really well in the second half, while we fell behind. We were unlucky in that we slipped a level and they outperformed us.”
Supporters are more interested in how much the team has evolved since then.
According to Arsenal Reddit, Granit Xhaka is the lone survivor five years after the team came to the field in the expectation of reversing a 5-1 deficit in the second leg at the Emirates Stadium three weeks later.
Furthermore, while Mohamed Elneny was an unused replacement, the Switzerland international is the only player left at the club this season who started the away game against the Bundesliga giants.
David Ospina, Mesut Ozil, Alexis Sanchez, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, and Alex Iwobi were also in the starting lineup that night, but have since moved on.
Hector Bellerin started both games, although he is on loan at Real Betis this season and might play Champions League football with the La Liga club next season if a permanent deal is completed.
Indeed, the Spaniard, along with Xhaka and Elneny, may not be at Arsenal the next time the team competes in European football’s top league.
The latter’s contract expires at the end of the season, and AS Roma are set to restart their pursuit of Xhaka after failing to sign him last summer.
So, if the aforementioned trio depart the club during the next six months, no first-team player will have played in a Champions League knockout game while wearing Arsenal colors.
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