Don’t Look Back in Anger - 17 years since no English team made it to final eight of Champions League

After Manchester United joined Chelsea and Manchester City in exiting the Champions League this week should we all get behind Arsenal in their tie with Bayern Munich; for the sake of the Premier League?

Oasis’s seminal tune ‘Don’t Look Back in Anger’ was about to be dumped off the top spot in the UK Charts by Take That’s final ever song before their original dissolution in 1996. In a week’s time Scotland and the rest of the UK would be in mourning after the Dunblane massacre, tensions would rise in China after missile testing in Taiwan and a little way down the road the British government admits that ‘mad cow disease’ has likely spread to people.

At the same time the Champions League quarter-finals were getting under way across Europe but with an absent presence from one very noticeable country; England.

While Borussia Dortmund took on Ajax and fellow European giants Juventus and Real Madrid went toe-to-toe surprise packages such as Spartak Moscow, Nantes, Panathinaikos and Legia Warsaw also did battle but for England there was no such luck.

That season we were represented by Blackburn Rovers and after failing to register a victory in their opening five fixtures against Rosenborg, Spartak and Legia not even a Mike Newell hat-trick and 4-1 win against their Norwegian competitors could lift them off the bottom of Group B.

Since then England has always had at least one representative in the final eight of the competition but after Manchester United were dumped out by Real Madrid in controversial circumstances on Tuesday night plus Manchester City and Chelsea being knocked out in the Group Stages it pins all English hopes on Arsenal.

Considering they will need to register a scoreline not done so at the Allianz Arena since September 2008 to get through to the next stages after their 3-1 defeat at The Emirates the likelihood is that unenviable 17 year wait is about to come to an end.

While tribal mentality dictates a sense of gloating when one or more of our teams is humiliated on the big stage as a collective entity us as English football fans should be praying that Arsenal can do what Werder Bremen did four-and-a-half years ago. That means Arsenal beating Bayern by the requisite amount to earn a quarter-final spot.

If not then the long held suspicion that the Bundesliga is a league on the up will be confirmed as with Borussia Dortmund already waiting in the final eight the likelihood is Germany will bump England off of second place in the UEFA coefficient rankings.

So Tottenham, Manchester United and Chelsea fans who may be waiting to revel in the failure of Arsenal in Munich you should consider this in the borrowed words of The Bee Gees that saw Take That knock Oasis off their perch; ‘How Deep is Your Love’ for the English game?

Can Arsenal prevent a humiliating landmark?

image: © Jan S0L0

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