Ahead of next week's Champions League opener, our statistician Josh James analyses Arsenal's record in the group stage.

On Tuesday Arsenal will kick off their 15th consecutive season of Champions League football, and will be looking to progress past the first group stage for the 13th year in a row.

The Gunners have been drawn in Group B, along with Montpellier of France, German side Schalke, and Olympiacos of Greece.

Since the second group stage was abolished in 2003, Arsenal have always reached the knock-out stages, finishing top of the group in six of the last nine seasons.

Overall Arsenal have played in 17 Champions League groups (including three second stage groups) and the complete record for this time is P102, W50, D27 L25 F165 A103.

On average Arsenal score 9.71 goals per group, concede 6.06 and earn 10.41 points (out of a possible 18). Whenever Arsenal have earned nine points or more in a group, they have always progressed to the next round.

The highest scoring group stage was just two years ago, when the Gunners racked up 18 goals (at an average of three a game) though only finished runners-up.

Arsenal have never finished lower than third in a group, while the lowest points tally was seven (in the second group stages of 2001/02 and 2002/03).

The average finishing position is 1.76, while Arsenal have remained unbeaten throughout the group on two occasions – in 2004/05 and 2005/06. In fact in the second of those seasons Arsenal also avoided defeat during the knock-out stages too, only tasting defeat to Barcelona in the final.

Champions League Group Stage Record
Season Gr P W D L F A Pts Pos
1998/99 E 6 2 2 2 8 8 8 3
1999/2000 B 6 2 2 2 9 9 8 3
2000/01 B 6 4 1 1 11 8 13 1
  C* 6 2 2 2 6 8 8 2
2001/02 C 6 3 0 3 9 9 9 2
  D* 6 2 1 3 8 8 7

3

2002/03 A 6 3 1 2 9 4 10 1
  B* 6 1 4 1 6 5 7 3
2003/04 B 6 3 1 2 9 6 10 1
2004/05 E 6 2 4 0 11 6 10 1
2005/06 B 6 5 1 0 10 2 16 1
2006/07 G 6 3 2 1 7 3 11 1
2007/08 H 6 4 1 1 14 4 13 2
2008/09 G 6 3 2 1 11 5 11 2
2009/10 H 6 4 1 1 12 5 13 1
2010/11 H 6 4 0 2 18 7 12 2
2011/12 F 6 3 2 1 7 6 11 1
Total   102 50 27 25 165 103 177

1.76

* = Second Group Stage

Behind The Numbers

This season Arsenal have been drawn in Group B. For those of you looking for omens, the last time Arsenal were in B (2005/06) the Gunners finished top with their best ever group stage record (W5 D1 L0 F10 A2 Pts 16). Indeed that year Arsenal went on to reach the final for the first time. B is also the most common group for Arsenal - this is their sixth appearance in Group B.

This is the 12th time out of 18 group stages so far (66.7 per cent) that the campaign will get underway with an away fixture. Traditionally though, Arsenal prefer to start at home - the average finishing position is 0.7 places higher (1.3 as opposed to 2) when the first group match is at home.

Arsenal have won the opening group game nine times out of 17, earning an average of 1.8 points per game on matchday one. Statistically though, the most successful matchday for Arsenal is matchday two. The Gunners are yet to lose on this date throughout their Champions League history, winning 13 and drawing the other four to earn 2.5 points per game.

The least successful date is matchday six (1.2 points per game), though the final matchday has often featured a number of dead rubbers with qualification either already secured by then, or mathematically impossible.

Since 2003/04 (when the second group stage was dropped) Arsenal have finished top six times and second in the other three. Winning the group ensures a next round draw against a runner-up from a different group, but it doesn't seem that finishing top necessarily translates into a discernible advantage.

From the six seasons that the team topped the group, Arsenal were eliminated at the first knockout round three times (50 per cent), but from the three years in which they were runners-up, they fell at the next hurdle just once (33 per cent).

Behind The Numbers

Results by matchday
Matchday P W D L F A Pts PPG H/A
1 17 9 4 4 27 18 31 1.8 6/11
2 17 13 4 0 37 13 43 2.5 11/6
3 17 8 6 3 32 14 30 1.8 5/12
4 17 5 8 4 22 17 23 1.4 12/5
5 17 9 2 6 26 19 29 1.7 11/6
6 17 6 3 8 21 22 21 1.2 6/11

Arsenal face Greek, German and French opposition this year - all three are among the most common nations that the Club have faced in Champions League group matches.

The Gunners have played more games against German sides than teams from any other nation. The matches against Schalke will be the 13th and 14th meetings against Bundesliga sides - two of the previous 12 games were also against Schalke, in 2001/02.

Arsène Wenger's men have an excellent home record against the German teams (P6 W5 D1 L0), but have managed just one win out of six on German soil (P6 W1 D2 L3).

Arsenal are also unbeaten at home against Greek teams in group stage matches, with a record of P5 W4 D1 L0. Again the away record is not as impressive though, with just one win from five games (P5 W1 D1 L3). This is the third season out of the past four that Arsenal have been grouped with Olympiacos. As with the previous two campaigns, Arsenal will host Olympiacos on Matchday Two, then complete the group in Greece on Matchday Six.

In contrast to the records against Greek and German sides, Arsenal's results against French sides are much better away than they are at home. The Gunners are unbeaten in France in the group stage (P4 W3 D1 L0) but are yet to win at home against a French team (P4 W0 D2 L2). This will be the first time Arsenal have met Montpellier in any competition.

Arsenal have 100 per cent records in group stage matches against teams from Belgium, Romania, Serbia, Sweden and Switzerland. Of the teams faced more than twice, the Club's best record is against Czech teams (P6 W5 D1 L0).

The 102 matches in group stage history have come against teams from 17 different countries.

Champions League group results by country
  HOME AWAY TOTAL
  P W D L F A Pts PPG P W D L F A Pts PPG P W D L F A Pts PPG
Serbia 1 1 0 0 3 1 3 3 1 1 0 0 3 1 3 3 2 2 0 0 6 2 6 3
Sweden 1 1 0 0 3 1 3 3 1 1 0 0 3 2 3 3 2 2 0 0 6 3 6 3
Belgium 1 1 0 0 2 0 3 3 1 1 0 0 3 2 3 3 2 2 0 0 5 2 6 3
Romania 1 1 0 0 2 1 3 3 1 1 0 0 1 0 3 3 2 2 0 0 3 1 6 3
Switzerland 1 1 0 0 2 1 3 3 1 1 0 0 1 0 3 3 2 2 0 0 3 1 6 3
Czech Rep 3 3 0 0 14 2 9 3 3 2 1 0 3 0 7 2.3 6 5 1 0 17 2 16 2.7
Norway 1 1 0 0 5 1 3 3 1 0 1 0 1 1 1 1 2 1 1 0 6 2 4 2
Turkey 1 0 1 0 0 0 1 1 1 1 0 0 5 2 3 3 2 1 1 0 5 2 4 2
Holland 5 2 3 0 6 2 9 1.8 5 2 3 0 8 3 9 1.8 10 4 6 0 14 5 18 1.8
Germany 6 5 1 0 16 7 16 2.7 6 1 2 3 6 9 5 0.8 12 6 3 3 22 16 21 1.8
Portugal 3 3 0 0 12 0 9 3 3 0 1 2 0 4 1 0.3 6 3 1 2 12 4 10 1.7
Greece 5 4 1 0 9 4 13 2.6 5 1 1 3 6 8 4 0.8 10 5 2 3 15 12 17 1.7
Italy 5 2 1 2 6 6 7 1.4 5 2 2 1 9 4 8 1.6 10 4 3 3 15 10 15 1.5
France 4 0 2 2 2 4 2 0.5 4 3 1 0 4 1 10 2.5 8 3 3 2 6 5 12 1.5
Ukraine 5 4 1 0 11 4 13 2.6 5 0 1 4 4 11 1 0.2 10 4 2 4 15 15 14 1.4
Russia 3 2 1 0 3 0 7 2.3 3 0 1 2 1 5 1 0.3 6 2 2 2 4 5 8 1.3
Spain 5 2 1 2 8 7 7 1.4 5 0 1 4 3 9 1 0.2 10 2 2 6 11 16 8 0.8
TOTAL 51 33 12 6 104 41 111 2.2 51 17 15 19 61 62 66 1.3 102 50 27 25 165 103 177 1.7

As mentioned earlier, this is Arsenal's 15th consecutive season in the Champions League, a record matched only by Manchester United and Real Madrid.

Only Madrid can better Arsenal's record of consecutive progressions from the first group stage (12) and consecutive knockout stages reached (10).

So the group stages hold largely happy memories for Arsenal, especially in the last 10 years. For the first two seasons (1998/99 and 1999/2000) home games were played at Wembley Stadium (with a record of P6 W2 D1 L3) before Highbury played host from 2000/01 to 2005/06 (P27 W16 D8 L3).

Since moving to Emirates Stadium in 2006, the team are unbeaten in home group games (P18 W15 D3 L0), taking 48 points from a possible 54. They have conceded just seven goals from those 18 matches too, and never more than one in a game.

The away record has improved over time as well. Arsenal won just four of their first 18 away games (22 per cent) in the group stages, but have now recorded 13 victories in the past 33 matches (39 per cent) on the road.

There have been some significant milestones and records in the 102 group games so far too.

In 2002 Gilberto scored what was, at the time, the fastest ever Champions League goal - just 20.07 seconds into the 4-0 win away to PSV on matchday two.

Another hugely significant goal came in the 2005/06 group stage, when Thierry Henry secured his status as the Club's greatest ever goalscorer. On October 17, 2005 he came off the bench in the matchday three fixture away to Sparta Prague, and scored both goals in a 2-0 win to surpass Ian Wright's old goalscoring record of 185.

More recently another Prague team, Slavia Prague, were on the receiving end of Arsenal's biggest ever victory at Emirates Stadium. The Gunners triumphed 7-0 on matchday three in 2007/08, with Theo Walcott and Cesc Fabregas netting two goals each. It also remains the Club's biggest ever Champions League win.


Behind The Numbers

Group stage record by venue
P W D L F A Pts
Wembley 6 2 1 3 8 9 7
Highbury 27 16 8 3 48 25 56
Emirates 18 15 3 0 48 7 48
Away 51 17 15 19 61 62 66

Stats correct as at September 11, 2012.

Josh James also provides the stats for the Arsenal Analysis pages of the matchday programme.

Copyright 2014 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source 18 Sep 2012