Qualifier quality

Behind the Numbers

Our statistician Josh James takes a look at Arsenal's flawless record in the Champions League qualifiers.

Arsenal made it 11 wins out of 11 in Champions League qualifiers or play-off matches with victory in Turkey on Wednesday night.

The Club have a 100 per cent record in the vital early season matches, since the first qualifier in the very first year at Emirates Stadium, back in 2006/07.

"Arsène Wenger's men have scored 27 and conceded just three in the qualifiers"

Arsenal have scored at least twice in all but one of the 11 matches, and kept clean sheets in eight of them - including four out of five on the road.

Overall Arsène Wenger's men have scored 27 and conceded just three in the qualifiers - one of those was scored by Eduardo, before he later joined the Club.

That was in the first ever qualifier tie, against Dinamo Zagreb of Croatia. Just 12 weeks after losing the 2006 Champions League final to Barcelona in Paris, the Gunners travelled to Zagreb for the first leg of the third qualifying round, and Cesc Fabregas - playing his 100th game for Arsenal - scored twice as three goals in 16 second-half minutes confirmed victory. Tomas Rosicky made his debut.

Two weeks later Arsenal recorded their first ever win at Emirates Stadium to seal a 5-1 aggregate win. Freddie Ljungberg - captaining the team for the first time - scored Arsenal's first after Eduardo had put the visitors ahead on the night.

The following season Arsenal were again drawn away first, against Sparta Prague of the Czech Republic, and returned with a 2-0 win. Back at Emirates Arsenal cruised to a 3-0 win. Eduardo scored for Arsenal this time, with Fabregas netting his fourth in as many qualifiers.

In 2008 Arsenal won 2-0 in Holland then 4-0 in London to see off FC Twente - then managed by Steve McLaren. Aaron Ramsey made his Gunners debut in the first leg.

The play-off system replaced the old Champions League qualifiers in 2009, and Arsenal met Celtic in a 'Battle of Britain'. The Gunners became only the second English side to beat Celtic away in nine European games, thanks to goals from William Gallas and a Gary Caldwell own goal. Arsenal racked up three more in the return leg with Massimo Donati's stunning last-minute goal no more than a consolation for the SPL side.

Having finished third in the Premier League in 2009/10 Arsenal qualified directly for the following season's Champions League group stage, but in 2011 they were back in the play-offs, and faced with the tricky prospect of Serie A side Udinese.

Theo Walcott's early goal gave Arsenal a 1-0 win in the home leg (Carl Jenkinson made his debut), and in Italy Antonio Di Natale scored first to level the tie. Robin van Persie put Arsenal back ahead before Wojciech Szczesny saved a Di Natale penalty and Walcott later sealed a 3-1 aggregate win.

All three of Arsenal's goals on Wednesday night came after the interval, and it's a testament to the fitness work Arsenal put in during pre-season perhaps, that 22 of their 27 qualifier goals (81 per cent) have been scored in the second half of games.

Sixteen different players have scored for Arsenal in the 11 games, and there has been one own goal.

All Champions League qualifiers/play-off results

Season Date Round Opponents Venue Score Scorers
2006/07 8/8/06 Third Qualifying Dinamo Zagreb A 3-0 Fabregas (2), van Persie
2006/07 23/8/06 Third Qualifying Dinamo Zagreb H 2-1 Ljungberg, Flamini
2007/08 15/8/07 Third Qualifying Sparta Prague A 2-0 Fabregas, Hleb
2007/08 29/8/07 Third Qualifying Sparta Prague H 3-0 Rosicky, Fabregas, Eduardo
2008/09 13/8/08 Play-off FC Twente A 2-0 Gallas, Adebayor
2008/09 27/8/08 Play-off FC Twente H 4-0 Nasri, Gallas, Walcott, Bendtner
2009/10 18/8/09 Play-off Celtic A 2-0 Gallas, Caldwell og
2009/10 26/8/09 Play-off Celtic H 3-1 Eduardo pen, Eboue, Arshavin
2011/12 16/8/11 Play-off Udinese H 1-0 Walcott
2011/12 24/8/11 Play-off Udinese A 2-1 van Persie, Walcott
2013/14 21/8/13 Play-off Fenerbahce A 3-0 Gibbs, Ramsey, Giroud pen


Arsenal in the Champions League Play-offs/Qualifiers

Arsenal in the Champions League Play-offs/Qualifiers


Arsenal goalscorers in qualifiers/play-offs

Player Goals
Cesc Fabregas 4
William Gallas 3
Theo Walcott 3
Robin van Persie 2
Eduardo 2
Emmanuel Adebayor 1
Andrey Arshavin 1
Nicklas Bendtner 1
Emmanuel Eboue 1
Kieran Gibbs 1
Gilberto 1
Olivier Giroud 1
Alex Hleb 1
Samir Nasri 1
Aaron Ramsey 1
Tomas Rosicky 1
Own goal 1

If Arsenal finish the job next Tuesday against Fenerbahce, it will be the third time they have progressed from the Champions League play-off stage, more than any other team has managed since they were introduced in 2009/10. Lyon and Sporting Braga have both achieved it twice as well to date.

In each of the four complete seasons under the current format, the play-offs have always provided at least one Champions League quarter-finalist, and in 2011/12 the losing finalists (Bayern Munich) began their journey in the play-offs.

"Kieran Gibbs became the 56th player to score for the Club in the Champions League"

Arsenal are hoping to reach the Champions League proper for the 16th season in a row, but in playing on Wednesday they have already racked up their 18th consecutive season of European football. The Club had never previously played in more than three years of European competition in a row before this current sequence.

The win in Turkey was, incidentally, Arsène Wenger's 550th as Gunners boss (from 956 matches) and it was the first time since 2007 that Arsenal have kept consecutive clean sheets on the road in the Champions League, following the shut-out against Bayern last season.

Olivier Giroud scored his second goal in two games (following on from eight in pre-season) - and his first penalty for the Club. Arsenal have now scored their last six spot kicks in competitive matches, the other five all converted by Mikel Arteta.

Kieran Gibbs became the 56th player to score for the Club in the Champions League when he grabbed his first European goal, and Aaron Ramsey notched his 12th overall for Arsenal (he opened his account against the same team). All of his goals have been scored in the second half.



Teams that progressed furthest from play-offs

Teams that progressed furthest from play-offs




Aaron Ramsey's Arsenal goals

Date Opponent Competition Score Venue Minute
21/10/08 Fenerbahce UCL 5-2 A 90
22/8/09 Portsmouth Prem 4-1 H 68
5/12/09 Stoke City Prem 2-0 H 79
30/12/09 Portsmouth Prem 4-1 A 69
3/1/10 West Ham FAC 2-1 A 78
1/5/11 Manchester United Prem 1-0 H 56
2/10/11 Tottenham Prem 1-2 A 51
19/10/11 Marseille UCL 1-0 A 90
11/2/12 Sunderland Prem 2-1 A 75
3/10/12 Olympiacos UCL 3-1 H 90
14/5/13 Wigan Prem 4-1 H 71
21/8/13 Fenerbahce UCL 3-0 A 64

Yaya Sanogo remained an unused substitute again against Fenerbahce, meaning that no players have made their Arsenal debut yet in this campaign. Indeed it's the first time since 1998/99 that Arsenal did not have a debut-maker during the opening game of the season.

The defeat to Aston Villa was only the second time Arsenal have lost on the first day of the Premier League campaign under Arsène Wenger (2000/01 being the last time) but there are some good omens. Arsenal have lost their first home league game of the season three times, yet still gone on to win the league - including against Aston Villa in 1988/89, and more recently against Leeds in 2001/02.

Giroud's sixth-minute strike on Saturday was the third fastest season-opener for Arsenal in Premier League history, and arrived 205 minutes earlier than last season's first goal.

It was, however, the first time Giroud had scored for Arsenal and ended up on the losing side (14 matches).

When Arsenal score first Premier League goals

Season First scorer Minutes into season
1992/93 Steve Bould 28
1993/94 Ian Wright 177
1994/95 Kevin Campbell 2
1995/96 Ian Wright 36
1996/97 John Hartson 27
1997/98 Ian Wright 35
1998/99 Emmanuel Petit 58
1999/2000 Dennis Bergkamp 65
2000/01 Lauren 98
2001/02 Thierry Henry 43
2002/03 Thierry Henry 9
2003/04 Thierry Henry 35
2004/05 Dennis Bergkamp 23
2005/06 Thierry Henry 81
2006/07 Gilberto 84
2007/08 Robin van Persie 84
2008/09 Samir Nasri 4
2009/10 Denilson 26
2010/11 Pepe Reina (og) 90
2011/12 Theo Walcott 225
2012/13 Lukas Podolski 211
2013/14 Olivier Giroud 6

Stats correct as at August 22, 2013, all fixtures subject to change

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