Arsenal’s Third-Place Curse Striking as Champions League Exit Looms Large

Arsenal face Bayern Munich in the UEFA Champions League round of 16 after exiting the competition at this stage the last six seasons in a row. We’ve analyzed those previous campaigns in a bid to draw patterns between those and the current season to determine if the Gunners are destined to fall again in 2016-17.”

The findings:

– Arsenal have been third in PL at time of their CL exit in last three successive seasons (currently 3rd)
– Earlier exits in competitions such as FA Cup and League don’t aid CL chances of progressing
– Bayern have knocked Gunners out of R16 twice in past five years
– Arsenal already conceded more PL goals than at this stage last season
– Arsenal as of yet failed to match best ‘goals scored tally’ of those previous six unsuccessful CL campaign

Arsenal head into the Champions League round of 16 this month hoping to buck recent trends in the competition after falling out at this stage of the tournament in their last six successive seasons.

It’s well-founded the north Londoners have done magnificently to keep their place in Europe’s elite competition for the last 17 consecutive seasons under Arsene Wenger, making the knockout stages in their last 14 attempts at doing so.

However, that accomplishment will be worth little to some fans without much silverware to show for it, and history suggests this season’s opponents, Bayern Munich, could be heading for the Champions League quarter-finals.

As the table above shows, the Gunners have been positioned third in the English top flight during each of their last three Champions League departures, with Bayern responsible for their exit in 2013-14, while Monaco and Barcelona ejected them in the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons, respectively.The biggest indicator of Arsenal doom relates to their position in the Premier League at the time of their European exit, and third place in particular appears to be a nightmarish omen for Wenger’s men.

And where do Arsenal currently find themselves leading up to their opening leg against Carlo Ancelotti’s side? Third, of course. And with two of their next three league fixtures coming against leaders Chelsea and high-flying Chelsea, the Gunners may struggle to climb any higher before their two-legged affair with Bayern is complete.

One might also think leaving competitions like the FA Cup and League Cup earlier on might help the north Londoners focus their attention on progressing in Europe, but irrespective of their cup status, Arsenal tend to struggle against elite European opponents.

Gunners Defence Failing to Fire On All Cylinders?

We dissected the club’s Premier League goal record at the time of Champions League departure in each of their last six seasons, and this term is hardly inspiring new confidence in their chances.Of course, Arsenal may always encounter stiff opposition, but what if the Gunners are simply the better team on their given day?

With three Premier League games remaining before their two-legged tie with Bayern is complete, Arsenal look no more dangerous in attack, yet no less leaky in defence than we’ve seen in recent campaigns. The 25 goals they’ve conceded so far this season is already 8.7% worse than last season’s tally of 23 (the stingiest of those six seasons), and the fact Bayern are current top scorers in the Bundesliga (42) doesn’t bode well, either.

What’s more, Arsenal’s current goal tally of 51 Premier League goals is some 15.7% lower than the 59 goals recorded at the time of their Champions League exit in 2010-11, the most prolific total in any of those six campaigns.

It also doesn’t bode well for the English giants that Bayern have ejected them from the Champions League round of 16 in two of their last six campaigns, and the writing on the wall suggests more mediocrity could be their downfall once again.