Arsenal Fans Nominate the Most Disappointing Game of the Arsene Wenger Era

James McNicholasFeatured ColumnistMay 17, 2017

Arsenal's French manager Arsene Wenger (C) puts his hand on his head as he watches from the dug out during the English Premier League football match between Chelsea and Arsenal at Stamford Bridge in London on March 22, 2014. Chelsea won 6-0. AFP PHOTO / GLYN KIRK

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May 17, 2006: The date should be etched into the memory banks of Arsenal fans, as it was the night they agonisingly lost 2-1 to Barcelona in the final of the Champions League.

It was agony, indeed, as the match in Paris had more highs and lows than a roller coaster.

The game looked up when Gunners goalkeeper Jens Lehmann was shown a red card on 18 minutes. Against the odds, though, Sol Campbell headed Arsenal in front before half-time.

Arsene Wenger's men fought valiantly to keep the Barca tide at bay, but they succumbed to late goals from Samuel Eto'o and Juliano Belletti.

Juliano Belletti netted the winner for Barca.
Juliano Belletti netted the winner for Barca.LLUIS GENE/Getty Images

To celebrate lament the occasion, we asked a number of Arsenal fans to reflect on some other disappointing games of the Wenger era.

Read on to discover which matches they selected. Gunners fans, brace yourselves to relive some horrible memories. The five most frequently cited memories are listed below in chronological order.

        

1. Arsenal 1-2 Chelsea (agg. 2-3): April 6, 2004

It might seem strange that Wenger's most revered season includes one of his most disappointing results.

However, as outstanding as Arsenal's unbeaten Premier League campaign of 2003/04 was, it might have been an even more extraordinary year. The Gunners had the capacity to do more and surely should have mounted a serious challenge for the Champions League.

After all, this was a year in which the European football's biggest final was contested by FC Porto and AS Monaco—and the principality outfit were not the irresistible force they are today.

Arsenal were arguably Europe's strongest side, yet they crashed out in the quarter-finals. What's worse, they were eliminated by London rivals Chelsea.

The first leg had been a 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge, which seemingly gave Wenger's men the advantage. That was underlined when Jose Antonio Reyes gave them a second-leg lead shortly before half-time at Highbury.

However, Frank Lampard equalised before Wayne Bridge netted the crucial goal in the 87th minute. A perfect one-two with Eidur Gudjohnsen allowed the left-back in on goal, and his finish was immaculate.

Although Arsenal went on to complete a historic unbeaten season in the Premier League, they were still left wondering what might have been in Europe.

          

2. Birmingham City 2-2 Arsenal: February 23, 2008

The 2003/04 season remains the last time Arsenal lifted the Premier League title. However, they would surely have claimed English football's biggest prize in 2007/08 were it not for this fateful occasion at Birmingham City

This game is remembered for two unpleasant Arsenal sights. The first occurred in the third minute, when Martin Taylor's lunge broke Eduardo da Silva's leg. The Croatia international's injury was horrific and clearly had a traumatic impact upon his team-mates.

The Arsenal players were moved almost to tears by Eduardo's plight—in some respects, the fact they were able to play on and take a point is to their credit.

Eduardo da Silva's leg was badly broken in this game.
Eduardo da Silva's leg was badly broken in this game.ADRIAN DENNIS/Getty Images

The other image people will recall from this game is Arsenal captain William Gallas' post-match tantrum. For the supposed leader of the squad to behave with such petulance was a troubling sight, and it potentially played a part in the collapse of their title challenge.

A win in this match would have taken Arsenal eight points clear. Instead, their last-minute concession of an equaliser prompted a sudden downturn in form. The Gunners drew three games in succession before suffering a crucial defeat at Chelsea.

Wenger's team has not been this close to a Premier League title since.

           

3. Arsenal 1-2 Birmingham City: February 27, 2011

There is one prize in English football that still evades Wenger: the League Cup. He's lost two finals. The first was in 2006/07, when an under-strength Arsenal were beaten by favourites Chelsea. 

But 2010/11 was altogether more agonising. This time, Arsenal were seen as the likely winners—but it was Birmingham who triumphed to claim their first major silverware since 1963.

Arsenal fell behind to a Nikola Zigic goal, but they managed to grab an equaliser through Robin van Persie's volley. However, two minutes from time, a mix-up between goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny and defender Laurent Koscielny allowed Obafemi Martins to pounce and snatch the winner.

Arsenal were visibly devastated—and the impact of the defeat extended well beyond the final whistle. This result marked the start of a run of one win in eight games—and it would be another three years before the Gunners ended their long wait for a trophy.

           

4. Manchester United 8-2 Arsenal: August 28, 2011

Shipping eight goals in any game is absurd. To do so against a supposed major rival was utterly humiliating.

This result was a summer in the making. Arsenal had lost the likes of Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri without recruiting adequate replacements—the squad had become unforgivably thin.

A look back at the teamsheets will reveal that Carl Jenkinson, Johan Djourou and Armand Traore all started at Old Trafford, with the likes of Ignasi Miquel, Henri Lansbury and Gilles Sunu featuring on the bench.

Arsenal were simply underprepared for this fixture, and a ruthless Manchester United took full advantage.

Back in 2011, Arsenal were humiliated at Old Trafford.
Back in 2011, Arsenal were humiliated at Old Trafford.ANDREW YATES/Getty Images

Arsenal fans can be forgiven for blocking out most of what went on during the game.

Wayne Rooney, so often the scourge of the Gunners, netted the sixth hat-trick of his career. There was also a brace from Ashley Young and goals for Nani, Park Ji-Sung and future Arsenal man Danny Welbeck.

In the days following this result, Wenger embarked on a transfer trolley dash that brought in the likes of Mikel Arteta and Per Mertesacker and somewhat stabilised the squad.

However, the scars of this defeat remained for some time—and it seemed to open the floodgates when it came to Arsenal suffering heavy defeats away to the Premier League's top sides.

         

5. Chelsea 6-0 Arsenal: March 22, 2014

Wenger's 1,000th game in charge of Arsenal proved to be an occasion to forget. The Gunners turned in a diabolical display and were consequently dissected by a clinical Chelsea.

As so often happens in Wenger's worst matches, a poor start played a crucial role. Arsenal found themselves 3-0 down after just 17 minutes, and they never looked capable of finding a way back into the game.

This was the first time in history that Chelsea had scored six goals against Arsenal. That the honour of reaching that landmark went to a Jose Mourinho-managed side made this result all the more difficult to stomach for Gunners supporters.

It was a match that underlined how far Arsenal had fallen—a truly big team would never lose in this fashion.

This game was also memorable for a case of mistaken identity. When Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain handled inside the penalty area, referee Andre Marriner erroneously dismissed Kieran Gibbs instead.

        

James McNicholas is Bleacher Report's lead Arsenal correspondent and is following the club from a London base throughout 2016/17.