Arsenal take on FC Basel in the Champions League tonight, looking to build on the impressive 1-1 draw against Paris Saint-Germain in their first game.
That stalemate in Paris, in what was arguably going to be their toughest tie in the whole group stage, has probably made the Gunners favourites to top the group – at the very least, it won’t be the foregone conclusion it was last year when Bayern Munich dominated.
As such, and given how much their form has improved in recent weeks, the assumption from many (not just Arsenal fans, but outsiders too) will be that victory over their Swiss opponents at the Emirates tonight will be something of a formality.
However, history suggests that this will not be the case. Basel are notoriously difficult to beat for English sides, and if Arsenal do win against them, they will achieve something no other English club has managed in the Champions League:
Basel are unbeaten away from home against English opposition in the Champions League (W1 D4). #AFCvBAS
— Aido (@LeWookieGooner) September 27, 2016
Basel are unbeaten in England in the Champions League. In that time they won at Stamford Bridge and twice drawn at Old Trafford and Anfield.
(The good news for Arsenal here though is that they have played in England five times in the UEFA Cup/Europa League and lost on four occasions.)
In fact, their Champions League record against English sides in general is highly impressive. Their 3-1 home defeat to Manchester United in November 2002 is the last time they lost to a Premier League side in Europe’s premier club competition.
Basel haven’t lost a #UCL game against English opposition since November 2002…
…They face Arsenal on MD2. pic.twitter.com/kVOusjhBdh
— Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) September 23, 2016
Since that game, they have faced Man United three more times (one win, two draws), Liverpool twice (one win, one draw) and Chelsea twice (two wins).
English clubs have constantly underestimated a club that has produced Xhaka, Shaqiri, Sommer, Elneny, Embolo, Stocker, Degen brothers etc…
— Tucson Gooner (@BaselGooner) September 28, 2016
Overall their Champions League record against English teams reads:
Played: 10 Won: 4 Drawn: 5 Lost: 1
The moral of the story appears to be, if you’re and English team playing against FC Basel, it’s probably best that you do it in the Europa League.
Incidentally, Arsenal’s record against Swiss teams should restore some of that confidence: played 4, won 4.