Next season the UEFA Champions League will kick off with a notable absentee: for the first time since 1997/98, Arsenal won’t be in the group stage.
Victories for Liverpool and Manchester City on the last day of the Premier League campaign consigned the Gunners to fifth place – their worst finish since 1995/96. For the first time this millennium, Arsène Wenger’s men miss out on the UEFA Champions League group stage, halting a 19-season run.
Only Real Madrid, ever-presents since 1997/98, have managed more – and next year will be their 21st consecutive group stage appearance. As a measure of just how impressive that achievement is (and Arsenal’s own run was), even if they fail to return in 2018/19 the Merengues’ record will be safe until at least 2024/25!
Most successive group stage appearances
21* Real Madrid (1997/98–)
19 Arsenal (1998/99–2016/17)
18 Manchester United (1996/97–2013/14)
14* Barcelona (2004/05–)
13 Chelsea (2003/04–2015/16)
10* Bayern München (2008/09–)
* Includes next season