10 years of the Emirates Stadium: 11 defining games at Arsenal's Highbury successor

On Friday, it's been a decade since the first competitive game in the Gunners' shiny arena. Jon Spurling looks back at some of the most momentous matches

1. Arsenal 2-1 Barcelona, February 2011

Robin van Persie squeezed home an equaliser with 12 minutes left on the clock, before Andrey Arshavin rammed home a late winner to send the home fans wild

“This is why we moved to this ground – so fans could enjoy nights like these,” enthused Arsene Wenger after watching his side fight back to beat Barcelona in the first leg of their last 16 Champions League tie in 2011. The Catalans had taken a first-half lead through David Villa and went on to squander several chances early in the second period, with their profligacy ultimately letting the hosts back into the game. 

Robin van Persie squeezed home an equaliser with 12 minutes left on the clock, before Andrey Arshavin rammed home a late winner to send the home fans wild. Arsenal, 2-1 winners on the night, for once merited the 'Barça-lite' title, although their advantage was obliterated at the Camp Nou weeks later.

2. Arsenal 3-1 Chelsea, December 2010

Alex Song smuggled in the opening goal, and a two-minute double salvo from Theo Walcott and Cesc Fabregas gave them a 3-0 lead

Ever since Roman Abramovich's takeover in 2003, Arsenal have suffered several chastening defeats against London rivals Chelsea. Yet in December 2010 the Gunners finally got one over on the Blues: Alex Song smuggled in the opening goal, and a two-minute double salvo from Theo Walcott and Cesc Fabregas gave them a 3-0 lead.

Branislav Ivanovic pulled one back late on, but Arsenal fans – with their team just two points behind leaders Manchester United – streamed away from the Emirates full of belief that their team could finally win the league again. They finished fourth.

Arsenal 3-1 Chelsea

Walcott makes it three

3. Arsenal 5-2 Tottenham, February 2012

Arsene Wenger's charges were rampant after the break, Theo Walcott striking twice and Tomas Rosicky also finding the back of the net to give Arsenal a handsome 5-2 win over their bitter rivals

It was an Arsenal fan’s worst nightmare: Harry Redknapp’s Tottenham cruised into a 2-0 lead after 30 minutes on a sunny February afternoon, and in so doing threatened to cut Arsenal adrift from the top four in the 2011/12 campaign.

Yet with chants of 'Mind the Gap' ringing in Arsenal players' ears – Spurs held a 10-point advantage over the Gunners before game – Bacary Sagna and Van Persie pulled the hosts level before half-time. Wenger's charges were rampant after the break, Walcott striking twice and Tomas Rosicky also finding the net to give Arsenal a handsome 5-2 win over their bitter rivals. They later finished third, Spurs one place behind them, in the season where fourth wasn't enough for Champions League football. 

4. Arsenal 1-0 Leeds, January 2012

A threaded pass from Alex Song was perfectly controlled by Henry, who then opened up his body and applied a typical across-the-goalkeeper finish to edge the Gunners in front

Football may be a team game, but there are occasions when a match is all about an individual. That was certainly the case in early 2012, when Wenger brought on club legend Thierry Henry – a loanee from New York Red Bulls – as his team struggled to break down an obdurate Leeds outfit in the FA Cup third round.

A threaded pass from Alex Song was perfectly controlled by Henry, who then opened up his body and applied a typical across-the-goalkeeper finish to edge the Gunners in front. It was enough to send them through to the next round, while a joyous Henry was left delighted at being able to "celebrate a goal like I was an Arsenal fan".

5. Arsenal 4-4 Tottenham, October 2008

Arsenal's chaotic 4-4 draw with Tottenham in the autumn of 2008 perhaps mirrors the club's fortunes over the last decade more than any other single match

Arsenal's chaotic 4-4 draw with Tottenham in the autumn of 2008 perhaps mirrors the club's fortunes over the last decade more than any other single match. After falling behind to David Bentley's beauty from range, Arsenal responded well to charge into a 4-2 lead, before wasting several opportunities to put the game out of Spurs' reach.

With 89 minutes elapsed that didn't seem to matter, until Jermaine Jenas and Aaron Lennon slotted home dramatic late goals to grab their side an unlikely draw. Arsenal fans were left howling in frustration.

6. Arsenal 1-3 Manchester United, May 2009

From there, the visitors brushed Arsenal aside with savage ease; Cristiano Ronaldo thumped home a 40-yard free-kick and then finished off a sublime counter-attacking move late on

There have been several disappointing Champions League nights at the Emirates, but none as dispiriting as Manchester United’s 3-1 win in the 2009 semi-final second leg. Although their team was a goal down from the first clash at Old Trafford, Arsenal fans were quietly confident of overcoming their domestic rivals and booking their place in the Rome final.

Park Ji-sung extinguished such hopes early on, taking advantage of Kieran Gibbs' slip to put United 2-0 up on aggregate. From there, the visitors brushed Arsenal aside with savage ease; Cristiano Ronaldo thumped home a 40-yard free-kick and then finished off a sublime counter-attacking move on the hour-mark. A late Van Persie penalty couldn't hide the fact that Ferguson’s men had taught Arsenal a footballing lesson.

Arsenal FC vs Manchester United 1-3 Highlights (UCL Semi Final) 2008-09 HD 720p (50 FPS)

Ronaldo wraps it up

7. Arsenal 3-0 Manchester United, October 2015

This convincing victory seemed to affirm Arsenal's title credentials, with United blown away in the opening 20 minutes

This convincing victory seemed to affirm Arsenal's title credentials, with United blown away in the opening 20 minutes. After Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil scored twice in 74 seconds, the former fired in a third to leave Louis van Gaal's men reeling. United improved after half-time, but a confident Arsenal side were able to see the game out with relative ease.

8. Arsenal 2-1 Leicester, February 2016

Conventional wisdom held that Arsenal would go from strength to strength after their 2-1 win against fellow title contenders, and inexperienced Leicester would crumble

Surprise Premier League leaders Leicester City looked rather comfortable at the Emirates at the start of the second half, with Claudio Ranieri's men a goal to the good after Jamie Vardy's penalty. Danny Simpson's red card in the 54th minute meant the Foxes were put under considerable pressured thereafter, however, with Walcott drilling home an equaliser and Danny Welbeck heading a winner past Kasper Schmeichel with virtually the last touch of the game.

Conventional wisdom held that Arsenal would go from strength to strength after their 2-1 win against fellow title contenders, and inexperienced Leicester would crumble. It didn’t quite work out like that.

Danny Welbeck vs Leicester City - English Commentary - 2016 - HD

Welbeck heads home

9. Arsenal 4-1 Liverpool, April 2015

Hector Bellerin got the ball rolling after the interval, though, before Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez joined the Spaniard on the scoresheet in a devastating eight-minute burst

After watching their side struggle to break down Liverpool in the first half of this April 2015 encounter, the Emirates crowd – not for the first or last time – began to let the players know exactly what they felt of a fairly inspid display.

Hector Bellerin got the ball rolling after the interval, though, before Ozil and Sanchez joined the Spaniard on the scoresheet in a devastating eight-minute burst. Olivier Giroud, so often the brunt of fans' frustration, later curled home a fourth to give Arsenal a convincing victory. “All four of our goals were a joy to behold,” a thrilled Arsene Wenger said afterwards.

10. Arsenal 2-0 West Brom, April 2016

The focus of this match, indeed, was the fact that around 20,000 supporters boycotted it in protest at that fact that Arsenal’s title challenge had once again fizzled out

Sanchez’s smart double against Tony Pulis’ West Brom handed Arsenal a comfortable 2-0 win, but it wasn’t the scoreline – which elevated Arsenal to third in the table – that made the headlines.

The focus of this match, instead, was the fact that around 20,000 supporters boycotted it in protest at the fact that Arsenal’s title challenge had once again fizzled out. Many of those who did attend spent much of the 90 minutes waving 'Time for Change” banners in the direction of the home dugout.

11. Arsenal 7-3 Newcastle, December 2012

The home side blew the lead three times, before eventually letting their superiority show with some breathtaking football

Arsenal have also netted seven goals against Slavia Prague and Blackburn in the Emirates era, but it was this performance and result that epitomised Arsenal at their mercurial best: the home side blew the lead three times, before eventually letting their superiority show with some breathtaking football.

Walcott, in the midst of a contract dispute with the club, was the star of the show, scoring three goals and setting up two more, while Giroud – who grabbed a brace – was also on top form. 

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