Wednesday 25 April 2018

Arsene Wenger's 15 most humiliating defeats as Arsenal manager

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger

Arsenal's recent run of poor form continued yesterday as a 2-1 home defeat saw the club dumped out of the FA Cup at the quarter-final stage.

Arsene Wenger's men are already on the brink of Champions League elimination while they are now eight points adrift of Leicester at the top of the Premier League table. The shock loss to Watford will be a big blow to morale but where does it rank among the most humiliating defeats of Wenger's time in charge?

15. AC Milan 4 Arsenal 0, Champions League last 16 first leg, 2012

Arsenal’s hopes of reaching the quarter-final stages were all but over at the halfway stage of the knockout tie as they slipped to a heavy loss at the San Siro. A Robinho double plus goals from Kevin Prince-Boateng and a Zlatan Ibrahimovic penalty ensured the Serie A giants of a mighty lead to take back to the Emirates. Arsenal restored some pride in the return leg, winning 3-0 but it was too little too late.

14. Bolton 2 Arsenal 1, Premier League 2011

Defeat all but ended Arsenal’s title challenge in late April as Tamir Cohen scored the match-winner with a late header to deny Wenger’s men. The Gunners were below par in the first half and trailed to Daniel Sturridge’s goal from a corner. Wojciech Szczesny saved a Kevin Davies penalty before Robin van Persie struck an equaliser. Despite creating enough chances to win the vital clash, Arsenal suffered a sucker-punch late on. It left them nine-points off leaders United with four to play.

13. Arsenal 1 Watford 2, FA Cup 2016

The manner of Arsenal's exit from the 2016 FA Cup was not disastrous. A hardworking and dangerous Watford side performed well at the Emirates and deserved their win against a strong starting XI which possibly deserved more. But within the context of recent defeats to Barcelona, Swansea City and Manchester United, Wenger's first FA Cup defeat for three years was depressing. With ground to make up in the league and the team in dreadful form, a third successive trip to Wembley offered a chink of light in an increasingly gloomy season. With that hope extinguished, Wenger found himself under more pressure than ever.

12. Manchester City 6 Arsenal 3, Premier League 2013

Table toppers Arsenal were blown away by City’s attacking prowess as Manuel Pellegrini’s side closed the gap on the Gunners to three points. The visitors may have pointed to some questionable offside calls and a rejected penalty claim, but they were smothered by City who even recovered from the loss of the injured Sergio Aguero during the second half. Per Meresacker’s header late on to make it 5-3 proved nothing in the way of a consolation as Yaya Toure struck a sixth from the spot in added time.

11. Bradford 1 Arsenal 1, (Bradford win 3-2 on pens) League Cup 2012

As it turned out Arsenal were just one of three Premier League teams to suffer at the hands of League Two outfit Bradford as Phil Parkinson’s side produced a fairytale run to the Wembley final. But still, losing to a side 65 places below you in the league pyramid remains one of Wenger’s most embarrassing moments as Arsenal boss. Gunners skipper Thomas Vermaelen proved the fall guy, missing the crucial penalty as the visitors continued their woeful form in all competitions (this defeat made it only one win in last seven).

10. Arsenal 2 Tottenham 3, Premier League 2010

Arsenal were 2-0 up courtesy of Samir Nasri and Marouane Chamakh and on course to leapfrog Chelsea at the top of the table when they self-destructed in the second half. A strike from Gareth Bale coupled with a Rafael van der Vaart penalty restored parity for the north London rivals whose remarkable comeback was completed when Younes Kaboul headed home van der Vaart’s free-kick. It was Spurs’ first win on Arsenal territory since 1993.

9. Arsenal 0 Blackburn 1, FA Cup quarter-finals 2013

With a crucial clash against Bayern Munich looming in the Champions League, Wenger opted to rest key men against Blackburn but the gamble didn’t pay off. Blackburn had only won three Championship games on the road when they travelled to the Emirates in February but secured the narrow win through boyhood Arsenal fan Colin Kazim-Richards on 72 minutes. Rovers, in the process, became the first team from a lower division to put Arsenal out of the FA Cup since Wenger became manager.

8. Arsenal 1 Birmingham 2, League Cup final 2011

A calamitous defensive mix-up two minutes from time between keeper Wojciech Szczesny and Laurent Koscielny saw Obafemi Martins pounce to snatch victory for underdogs Birmingham at Wembley. Arsenal had been the overwhelming favourites heading into the showpiece but trailed to a Nikola Zigic header before Robin van Persie’s spectacular volley gave Arsenal fans hope of ending their six-year wait for a trophy. But with an extra 30-minutes beckoning came the defensive meltdown which saw Wenger drop to his knees.

7. Man Utd 6 Arsenal 1, Premier League 2001

Wenger’s side were blown off the park in the first 45 minutes, trailing 5-1 at the break courtesy of a Dwight Yorke hat-trick inside 25 minutes. United had headed into the clash suffering something of a slight goal drought while Wenger claimed ahead of the fixture that “United haven’t done anything special this season”. Victory took United 16 points clear at the top of the table.

6. Liverpool 5 Arsenal 1, Premier League 2014

Four-nil down inside the opening 19 minutes, the only relief for Wenger and Arsenal fans come the final whistle was that they didn’t concede more than five. Arsenal were still in their starting blocks when Martin Skrtel struck twice inside nine minutes before further goals from Raheem Sterling and Daniel Sturridge. Sterling added a fifth for Liverpool after the break as Brendan Rodgers’ side took their foot off the accelerator. Arsenal had arrived at Anfield two points clear of Manchester City and Chelsea at the top of the table for this early February battle. They ended it seven points adrift back in fourth place, an all too familiar story for Arsenal followers.

5. Tottenham 5 Arsenal 1, League Cup semi-final second leg 2008

If it’s not embarrassing enough to be beaten by your arch rivals – and for the first time in nine years at that too – watching your team-mates have a little scrap is the last thing you want to add to the mix. It fell to captain William Gallas to be peace maker as a violent clash between Emmanuel Adebayor and Nicklas Bendtner threatened to break out. Bendtner has already helped Spurs’ cause by heading into his own net on a night to forget for the Dane and the rest of the red half of north London.

4. Arsenal 1 Monaco 3, Champions League last 16 2015

Despite being handed a favourable draw, Arsenal’s naivety and incompetence were laid bare again as they suffered defeat in the first leg which effectively ended any hope they had of reaching the quarter-finals. Former Spurs striker Dimitar Berbatov struck the second against Arsenal’s limp defence and while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s stoppage time goal had given them hope, they were caught hopelessly on the counter attack again as the French side scored a crucial third away goal. Arsenal won the away leg 2-0, but again it was too little too late as they failed to reach the last eight of Europe’s top competition for the fifth straight season.

3. Arsenal 2 Olympiakos 3, Champions League group stage 2015

Arsene Wenger had called this fixture ‘must-win’ with back-to-back clashes against Bayern Munich looming but his decision to rest goalkeeper Petr Cech backfired spectacularly as David Ospina netted an own goal to hand the Greek visitors their crucial second goal. Olympiakos scored their match-winner just 59 seconds after Alexis Sanchez had equalised, which exposed Arsenal’s lack of defensive organisation so soon after scoring. Defeat once again left question marks over Wenger’s long-term future at the club.

2. Chelsea 6 Arsenal 0, Premier League 2014

What should have been a great day of celebration for Wenger in his 1,000 game in charge of Arsenal turned into another chapter in Arsenal’s story of capitulating again in fixtures which identifies true title contenders. Defeat against arch nemesis Jose Mourinho hurt. It was the heaviest defeat Arsenal have suffered in 107 years of their contests with Chelsea. It stretched Wenger’s unbeaten streak against Mourinho to 11 matches. Chelsea fans were left chanting for Wenger to sign a new contract. The Frenchman instead opted not to turn up for his post-match press conference for the first time in his 17 and a half years in charge.

1. Man Utd 8 Arsenal 2, Premier League 2011

Still reeling from the sales of Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri, Arsenal suffered their worst defeat since 1896 at Old Trafford, having not learnt lessons of their 6-1 drubbing at the same venue 10 years previously. The late August viewing was made even harder for travelling fans as Robin van Persie saw his penalty saved by David de Gea and Carl Jenkinson was handed a second-half red card. Questions were raised over Wenger’s summer transfer policy and whether he remained the right man for the job. The Frenchman responded by signing Mikel Arteta, Per Mertesacker and Andre Santos on transfer deadline day.

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