In February 2012 as he faced up to seven seasons without a major trophy, Arsene Wenger made one of his most infamous statements as Arsenal manager.
"The first trophy is to finish in the top four," he said, with the Gunners 4-0 down in a Champions League tie against AC Milan and having been dumped out of the FA Cup by Sunderland.
His words attracted plenty of derision but given the huge financial advantage Champions League qualification handed to Premier League teams, not to mention the monetary demands attached to the Gunners’ move to Emirates Stadium, he unquestionably had a point.
Silverware returned in 2014 as Wenger’s men won the FA Cup and they retained the trophy the following season. Despite a few close shaves, they kept getting into the Champions League.
Arsenal vs PSV prediction, odds, betting tips and best bets for 2023/24 Champions League clash
The 2015/16 season ultimately felt like a missed opportunity as Arsenal finished second behind surprise package Leicester City in the title race. But when Mikel Arteta bade farewell to his playing days on the final day of the season. Wenger’s side remained secure among Europe’s elite.
And then they weren’t. From 2017 up until this season’s Group B opener against PSV, the Champions League existed for six seasons without Arsenal in it.
Arsenal's last involvement in the competition came in 2016-17, meaning they went six years without competing in UEFA's top-tier club tournament.
Here’s how those years unfolded and how they finally made it back.
There is a strong argument to be made that, after Arsenal turned in a bravura performance in the 2017 FA Cup final to deny Antonio Conte’s Chelsea a double, Wenger should have rode off into the sunset. It was a glorious end to a seasonRead on sportingnews.com