By 90Min
November 01, 2019

Arsenal Women stormed into the Champions League quarter finals in spectacular style this week, with an 8-0 win over Slavia Praha to progress 13-2 on aggregate. 

The Gunners are making their first appearance in the Champions League since 2014, when they suffered a shock quarter-final exit to Birmingham City. 

But after a five-year hiatus, Arsenal are back, and looking in great shape to make their mark on the continent this season. Could they be the side to bring an end to Lyon's long run of dominance in the competition?

Arsenal have history in the Champions League. They remain the only British women's side to triumph in Europe, after lifting the trophy in 2007 to complete a remarkable quadruple. 

Back in 2007, the 'UEFA Women's Cup' consisted of a two-legged final. Arsenal came up against Swedish outfit Umeå, who were one of the biggest club sides in Europe at the time.

Umeå were a team made up predominantly Swedish players - Sweden were one of the powerhouses of the game in the naughties, having finished as runners up at the 2003 World Cup and reaching the semi finals of the 2004 Olympics - but also boasted two Brazilian superstars, including the imperious Marta at the peak of her powers. 

Meanwhile Arsenal were a squad made up entirely of British players, as foreign signings were virtually unheard of in the English game in 2007. Although Arsenal were made up of the spine of the English national team, this did not make them the world-beating team that they would be considered if that was the case today. England were hardly a force to be reckoned with on the international stage, having recently qualified for their first World Cup in 12 years. 

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Arsenal also had to contend with the loss of talisman Kelly Smith, who was suspended for both legs after being sent off in the semi final.


Despite being huge underdogs, Arsenal recorded a tremendous 1-0 win in Sweden courtesy of a rare Alex Scott goal, and managed to see out a 0-0 draw on home soil in the second leg to secure the most famous of victories. 

This current Arsenal side are the best we have seen since. They have the talent to repeat the remarkable feats of 2007. 

There are parallels between today's Arsenal and the side of 12 years ago. The quadruple winning side had won six league titles in seven years. Arsenal were a team not used to losing, and this winning mentality will have been invaluable, as the USA demonstrated at the World Cup.

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Arsenal won the WSL for the first time in seven years last season. Obviously winning the league once does not translate to the same run of dominance that the 2007 side experienced, but it shows that Arsenal have their winning swagger back. The fact that they have not won an obscene amount of league titles could actually work in their favour. 


While the Arsenal of 12 years ago would stroll to the league and FA Cup most seasons, often going entire years unbeaten, this Arsenal side have not had it all their own way. League games would be a formality for Arsenal in 2007, making the transition to playing Europe's elite potentially difficult. This Arsenal side have to work for three points every week in the WSL, therefore will be razor sharp when playing in the Champions League.

Much like the quadruple winning side, this Arsenal team has a British core. From the composure and defensive intelligence of Leah Williamson at the back, to the energy, vision and creativity of Jordan Nobbs and Kim Little in midfield, to Beth Mead up front, with her directness and wicked delivery, Arsenal possess a selection of Britain's finest footballers. 

But they are joined by the exciting Dutch duo of Dannielle van de Donk and Vivianne Miedema to add another dynamic to this Arsenal team. The pair both hit hat-tricks on Thursday evening during Arsenal's emphatic win, making Miedema the Champions League's top scorer this season with 10 goals. On her day, she is unstoppable – and more often than not, it's her day.

Arsenal have quality all over the pitch but, in the shape of Little, Nobbs, van de Donk and Miedema, they have four world class players. This is perhaps where Manchester City fell down in the Champions League on Wednesday. They are undoubtably a good side, but when chasing a deficit against a strong Atletico Madrid side, did City have a player capable of a moment of magic to turn a game on its head? In Ellen White they have a fantastic goalscorer, but she relies on the service of others to produce her best. 


When Arsenal face an uphill battle, you could look around their team and pick out numerous players who can change a game with a flash of brilliance. 

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Lyon are the strong favourites to win their fifth Champions League title in five years. Their squad is overflowing with superstars of the women's game and will take some beating. 

But just as the Arsenal side of 2007 thrived with the underdog tag to make history, today's Arsenal team could do the same. Because being considered the underdog when you have Vivianne Miedema in your ranks is a pretty strong position to be in.

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