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Arsene Wenger's A Series Of Unfortunate Champions League Red Cards

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ROBIN VAN PERSIE ARSENAL BARCELONA
Robin van Persie (L) of Arsenal reacts to referee Massimo Busacca after receiving a red card during the UEFA Champions League round of 16 second leg match between Barcelona and Arsenal on March 8, 2011 in Barcelona, Spain. | Jasper Juinen via Getty Images

Arsene Wenger has goals both modest and ambitious for his team's visit to Allianz Arena.

In the latter category, the Arsenal manager believes his team can overturn an 0-2 deficit against Bayern Munich in the second leg of their Round of 16 matchup. In the former, Wenger would just like Arsenal to finish the match with as many players on the field as it has at the start.

"We have played a few times with 10 men in Europe and always under very special circumstances," Wenger said at a press conference in Munich on Monday. "In the Champions League final [against Barcelona in 2006], now against Bayern. When we played at Barcelona when we were in a position to qualify, it was a second yellow card and the only time I have seen that since I [have] watched European football, when [Robin] van Persie was sent off [for kicking the ball away], so I hope tomorrow we get a fair chance to play with 11 against 11 until the end."

Over the years, Arsenal has picked up a handful of noteworthy red cards during Champions League matches, including one for goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny in the first leg against Bayern Munich. While few red cards are accepted willingly, the ones issued to Arsenal players in European competition have tended to be particularly controversial.

Here is a look back at those "very special circumstances" that Wenger was lamenting:

  • 2006 Champions League Final
    In 2006, Arsenal reached the Champions League Final for the first time in club history. With Arsene Wenger on the touchline and Thierry Henry at the business end of a 4–5–1 formation, Arsenal kicked off against Barcelona at Stade de France in Paris. The Gunners came out firing and Henry twice forced saves from Barcelona goalkeeper Victor Valdes in the opening minutes.

    The match took a historic turn in Barcelona's favor in the 18th minute when Arsenal goalkeeper Jens Lehmann became the first player ever to recieve a red card in a Champions League Final. Lehmann tripped up Barcelona forward Samuel Eto'o outside the Arsenal penalty area. Barcelona midfiedler Ludovic Giuly banged the loose ball into the net moments later but referee Terje Hauge overruled the goal, showed Lehmann a red card and awarded a free kick just outside the box. Barcelona would not score on the play but Arsenal would be reduced to 10 men for the remainder of the match.

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    Arsenal would actually take a 1-0 lead through Sol Campbell in the 34th minute but Barcelona would eventually turn its numerical advantage into a 2-1 win.

    "I would have liked to have taken a few more seconds before I made a decision," Hauge later told a Norwegian newspaper, via BBC Sport. "If I'd done that, I could have given a goal and given a yellow card as well."
  • 2011 Champions League Round Of 16
    Getty Images
    Another clash with Barcelona resulted in another controversial red card for Arsenal. With two of the world's foremost purveyors of stylish football playing the second leg in a Round of 16 tie in 2011, Robin Van Persie was sent off early in the second half with Arsenal in position to advance.

    In one of the stranger moments in recent Arsenal history, Van Persie received a second yellow card in the match at Camp Nou for loosing a shot after he had been whistled for offside in the 53rd minute. The seemingly innocuous attempt on goal came seconds after referee Massimo Busacca blew his whistle.

    "In my opinion it was a total joke, the sending‑off," Van Persie said after the match, via The Guardian. "How can I hear his whistle with 95,000 people jumping up. How can I hear that, for God's sake? Please explain me that."

    Arsenal brought a 2-1 lead from the first leg to Barcelona and were even 1-1 when RVP was sent off. With a man advantage for more than 30 minutes, Barcelona would continue to dominate possession and go on to win the match 3-1. Arsenal went out of the competition 4-3 on aggregate.
  • 2014 Champions League Round Of 16
    Unfortunately for Arsene Wenger, Arsenal has no red card drought. Facing Bayern Munich in the Round of 16 in 2014, goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny became the latest Arsenal man to pick up a dramatic red card in the Champions League. With the defending European champions in London for the first leg, Arsenal opened brightly and nearly went ahead when Mesut Ozil earned a penalty kick after nine minutes. Bayern keeper Manuel Neuer rebuffed the effort of his Germany teammate and then things got even worse for Arsenal.

    In the 37th minute, Szczesny took down Bayern striker Arjen Robben in the penalty area. Referee Nicola Rizzoli sent off Arsenal's keeper and awarded a penalty kick to Bayern.

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    "It doesn’t just change the game, it kills the game," Wenger told reporters after his team lost 2-0 in the first leg, via the Daily Mail. "It was a top quality game and in the second half it was one-way traffic."

    Bayern Munich defender David Alaba would actually miss the ensuing penalty but Arsenal was reduced to 10 men. Despite some stalwart defending by the Gunners, Bayern would leave London with a 2-0 lead.
 
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