Second legs

Behind the Numbers - Two-legs

This week our statistician Josh James looks at Arsenal's record over two-legged ties.

Arsenal go to Germany on Wednesday knowing they will make history if they eliminate Bayern Munich.

Arsenal have never before won a two-legged tie after losing at home in the first match, though they have only been in this position three times previously, and only once in European competition.

This week's Champions League tie with Bayern is the 97th two-legged fixture in Arsenal's history, and so far they have won 68 (71 per cent) of them, and 45 of the 64 in Europe (70 per cent).

"The four times Arsenal have successfully come from behind after losing the first match in European football include the 1970 Fairs Cup final"

However, after losing the first leg in European football (14 times) Arsenal have gone on to progress only four times (29 per cent) and all four of those ties were with the second leg at home.

The only previous time Arsenal had lost a first leg at home in Europe was also against German opposition - Borussia Monchengladbach in the 1996/97 UEFA Cup. Back then the Gunners lost 3-2 at Highbury, then went down by the same scoreline in Germany to bow out 6-4 on aggregate.

The four times Arsenal have successfully come from behind after losing the first match in European football include the 1970 Fairs Cup final. Bertie Mee's Gunners lost 3-1 away to Anderlecht in the first game, but clinched the trophy after a memorable 3-0 win at Highbury in the return match.

It's happened once in the Champions League - in 2009/10 when Arsenal beat Porto 6-2 on aggregate despite losing 2-1 in Portugal in the first game.

As the table below shows, Arsenal have a fantastic record when winning the first leg in European football, progressing 32 times out of 35 (91 per cent) and they usually progress too when drawing the first leg (60 per cent).

Overall in European two-legged football, Arsenal win the first leg 55 per cent of the time, draw 23 per cent and lose 22 per cent. Prior to this season, Arsenal have played 45 per cent of European two-legged ties at home first (29 out of 64).


Arsenal's two-legged ties in Europe

Arsenal's two-legged ties in Europe


European record when...

  Home Away Total
  W L W L W L
Winning first leg 18 3 14 0 32 3
Drawing first leg 3 4 6 2 9 6
Losing first leg 0 1 4 9 4 10

Arsenal's first ever two-legged tie wasn't in European competition, unusually it came in the FA Cup - during the 1945/46 season - and it was hardly a memorable occasion.

In the first season after World War Two, each round of the FA Cup from the first round proper to the sixth round proper was played over two legs, in order to raise much-needed revenue for the clubs. It remains the only time the famous old cup competition has used this format.

Arsenal were drawn against West Ham United in the third round, and lost the first leg 6-0 away. It remains Arsenal's joint-heaviest defeat in the tournament. The Gunners salvaged some pride in the home leg with a 1-0 win four days later, but suffered a 6-1 aggregate defeat.

Arsenal's two-legged ties in domestic football

Aside from that, Arsenal have a generally impressive record in two-legged domestic football - the remainder of which have all been in the League Cup. There have been 32 ties in all, Arsenal have won 23 of them (72 per cent), while the one drawn tie ended with a victory after a replay, against Tottenham in 1987.

The Gunners have always progressed when avoiding defeat away from home in the first leg - winning 14 out of 14 such occasions.
Arsenal have never won a domestic tie after losing the first leg at home, but have come back to triumph in two out of the three ties after losing on the road in the first leg. Most recently this happened in 2010/11 - a 1-0 defeat to Ipswich at Portman Road in the Carling Cup semi-final was followed by a 3-0 win at the Emirates to book a place at Wembley.


Domestic record when...

  Home Away Total
  W D L W L W D L
Winning first leg 6 0 1 8 0 14 0 1
Drawing first leg 1 0 2 6 0 7 0 2
Losing first leg 0 1 2 2 3 2 1 5

A 2-0 win for Arsenal, of course, will not be enough in Germany this week, due to the away goals rule.

A 3-1 scoreline to Arsenal after extra-time will take the game to penalties, while 4-2 or any other two-goal winning margin will see Arsène Wenger's side through on away goals.

Arsenal have had six ties settled in this way overall - four in Europe and two in domestic games - but just one of them in the Gunners' favour.

That was in the 1978/79 UEFA Cup second round against Hajduk Split. That year Arsenal's goal in a 2-1 defeat in Yugoslavia proved significant, as a 1-0 win in the return at Highbury was enough to send them through.

The last time the Gunners fell foul of the away goals rule was in the 2005/06 Carling Cup, when Jason Roberts' late goal for Wigan at Highbury denied Arsenal a Wembley trip.

Arsenal's away goals record

Arsenal's away goals record

Arsenal games settled on away games

Season Tournament Opposition First Leg Second Leg
1970/71 Fairs Cup Cologne 2-1 (H) 0-1 (A)
1978/79 UEFA Cup Hajduk Split 1-2 (A) 1-0 (H)
1981/82 UEFA Cup Winterslag 0-1 (A) 2-1 (H)
1995/96 League Cup Aston Villa 2-2 (H) 0-0 (A)
2000/01 Champions League Valencia 2-1 (H) 0-1 (A)
2005/06 League Cup Wigan Athletic 0-1 (A) 2-1 (H)

All stats correct as at March 12, 2013

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