Arsenal’s Champions League adventures tend to be the butt of many unoriginal jokes. Arsene Wenger’s men have an annual habit of crashing out at the first knock-out stage, despite at least one heroic 30-minute spell in the second leg when it appears all is not lost. Cue comparisons to a £5 note, a three-pronged plug, and a UK Sat-Nav by wise-cracks in the office as Arsenal fans bemoan another opportunity lost.
But while Arsenal’s European collapse is becoming increasingly common, their ability to pick up three points at home in the group stage is as reliable as a Twitter meltdown every time Katie Hopkins opens her mouth. Ahead of Olympiacos’ visit to the Emirates Stadium we’ve crunched the last 15 years of data, and in 45 Champions League home group games the Gunners have lost just four.
Borussia Dortmund (13/14), Shalke (12/13), Inter Milan (03/04) and Auxerre (02/03) are the only four teams to win a Champions League group game at Arsenal since 2000, with the Gunners racking up 34 wins and seven draws in 45 clashes. It’s a solid 76 per cent win rate and would go some way to explaining why Arsene Wenger’s side are a super-skinny to pick up all three points on Tuesday night.
A more valuable punt however may be Arsenal to win to nil at odds of . In 51 per cent of those 45 matches Arsenal have kept a clean sheet, including in four of their last five Champions League group victories at the Emirates. Music to the ears of Petr Cech and co.
A quick break-down of Arsenal’s 34 victories, show that almost half of them were by a two goal margin. 15 of the Gunners’ 34 wins were by two goals, with 10 by a single effort, four by three goals and five wins were by a thumping four goals or more. The biggest of these thrashings was a 7-0 demolition of Slavia Prague in the 2007/08 campaign. Cesc Fabregas and Theo Walcott both scored a couple each, while Lord Bendtner himself hopped off the bench to grace us all with his presence and a goal.
It’s for Arsenal to cover a one goal handicap on Tuesday, and for the Gunners to continue the trend of winning by a two goal margin. Olympiacos have lost the last five Champions League away games on the spin, and their three previous group stage trips to Arsenal since 2000 have all ended in defeat. An outlook bleaker than the latest This Is England storyline.
For a punt at slightly bigger odds therefore it’s for Arsenal to win 2-0. Almost a quarter of the Gunners’ Champions League home group games have finished 2-0 and that’s the same scoreline Arsenal beat Olympiacos by in this fixture six years ago to the day. A spooky coincidence or further evidence that it’s written in the stars that this fixture will finish 2-0? Well despite what Russell Grant may say, it’s likely to be pure coincidence, but that doesn’t make a 2-0 victory any less likely – and at 6/1 we’re willing to take a gamble on the Gunners.