When did Arsenal last qualify for the Champions League?

Martin Odegaard Cedric Alexandre Lacazette Arsenal 2021-22Getty

There was a time when Champions League competition without Arsenal being involved was almost unimaginable, with Arsene Wenger making the Gunners regular guests at European football’s top table.

Between 1998 and 2017, the legendary French coach delivered a record-setting run of 19 successive qualifications for elite continental competition – with the north London heavyweights making their way to a first final in 2006.

Wheels started to come off, though, towards the end of Wenger’s tenure and Arsenal have been unable to put them back on since. How long has it been since a top-four finish was last secured? GOAL takes a look…

When did Arsenal last qualify for the Champions League?

It did not take Wenger long to make an impact in English football following his appointment as Arsenal manager in October 1996.

He guided the Gunners to Premier League title glory in 1997-98, while also landing the FA Cup as part of a domestic double, and a Champions League bow was made in the following campaign.

Group-stage exits were endured in each of Arsenal’s first two outings at that level, before reaching the quarter-finals in 2000-01.

A place in the last eight was secured again in 2003-04, before suffering final heartache in a 2-1 defeat to Barcelona at Parc des Princes in 2006.

Wenger oversaw runs to two quarter-finals and one semi-final between 2008 and 2010, but Champions League adventures came to a close with a sequence of seven successive defeats in the last 16.

The most recent of those came at the hands of Bayern Munich in 2016-17, with back-to-back 5-1 defeats to the German giants delivering painful last memories for the Gunners among the European elite.

They could only muster a fifth-place finish in the Premier League that season and have not returned to the top four since, with Wenger calling time on his 22-year reign in 2018.

Arsenal’s last Champions League qualification came on the back of finishing as runners-up behind Leicester City in 2015-16, with two final standings in fifth spot – along with a Europa League final defeat to Chelsea in 2019 - the closest they have come to breaking a barren run since then.

Arsenal's Champions League record:

Season

Stage reached

1998-99

Group

1999-00

Group

2000-01

Quarter-final

2001-02

Group Stage 2

2002-03

Group Stage 2

2003-04

Quarter-final

2004-05

Round of 16

2005-06

Runners-up

2006-07

Round of 16

2007-08

Quarter-final

2008-09

Semi-final

2009-10

Quarter-final

2010-11

Round of 16

2011-12

Round of 16

2012-13

Round of 16

2013-14

Round of 16

2014-15

Round of 16

2015-16

Round of 16

2016-17

Round of 16

Will Arsenal qualify for the Champions League this season?

After finishing eighth in 2020-21 and failing to win a domestic cup, Arsenal have been without continental competition of any kind in the current campaign.

That has allowed a side working under the guidance of former club captain Mikel Arteta to narrow its focus on Premier League matters.

It appeared at one stage as though the inconsistency which has been holding the Gunners back for far too long would be shaken in 2021-22 during a surge back into the top four.

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Familiar faults have resurfaced once more, though, with three successive defeats suffered between April 4-16 as part of a run that delivered only one top-flight victory from five outings.

That untimely wobble allowed others to close in, as the Champions League-chasing pack bunched up, and Arsenal suddenly found themselves with work to do in their final seven fixtures – as they look to chase down arch-rivals Spurs and return St Totteringham’s Day to the calendar in north London.

With the clock ticking on Arteta’s side, and form needing to be found from somewhere if a return ticket to the Champions League is to be secured, their remaining fixture list will see them take in testing trips to Chelsea, West Ham, Tottenham and Newcastle while playing host to Manchester United, Leeds and Everton.