Arsenal have finally broken through their last-16 barrier after almost a decade of failed attempts to make the quarter-final stage in European competition.
The Gunners defeated AC Milan 3-1 on Thursday, 5-1 on aggregate to advance to the quarter-finals of the Europa League.
It marks the first time Arsenal are through to the quarter-finals in Europe since the 2009-10 campaign.
Every season since, Arsenal have stumbled at the last-16 hurdle of the Champions League. While that is an impressive streak of advancement out of group stage, the inability to move any further had become a sore spot for Arsene Wenger and the club.
Though this feat has come in the Europa League, success in this competition remains Arsenal’s best chance at getting an opportunity to break that barrier in the Champions League next season.
Arsenal are among the favorites in the last eight and will hope to push all the way to the title as an automatic place in Europe’s top continental club competition comes with it.
Meanwhile, the Gunners also snapped another drought in the process of their dominating victory over the Serie A side. It was the first time since the 2003-4 season that Arsenal have won both legs of a continental tie.
In fact, it was the club’s first victory in the knockout stages in continental competition at the Emirates since March 2012, when the Gunners also beat Milan, that time in the Champions League.
And the success for Arsenal has been the result of a varied attack that has seen goals come from all over the field. Danny Welbeck picked up a brace in the second-leg victory, while Granit Xhaka found the back of the net as well to become the 14th and 15th goal scorers for the club in this year’s competition, the highest of any team in this year’s Europa League.
Arsenal will learn their quarter-final opponent in Friday’s draw, with the likes of Atletico Madrid, RB Leipzig, Marseille and Lazio also advancing to the last eight.
Source: Sporting News