Tottenham must learn lessons from Arsenal's Wembley experiment

The Gunners played their Champions League matches at Wembley for two seasons in the late 1990s - with mixed results

James Mariner@MarinerIndy
Saturday 28 May 2016 14:56
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Dennis Bergkamp shoots for goal against Panathinaikos in Arsenal's first Champions League match at the old Wembley in 1998 (Getty)
Dennis Bergkamp shoots for goal against Panathinaikos in Arsenal's first Champions League match at the old Wembley in 1998 (Getty)

Tottenham Hotspur supporters still reeling from their club's late-season capitulation, which allowed Arsenal to finish above them for a 21st successive season, would do well to learn further lessons from their rivals as they prepare to take over Wembley next season.

Plans for Mauricio Pochettino's side to use the national stadium as their base for their Champions League matches next campaign were confirmed on Saturday, along with plans to use the stadium for domestic matches as well in the 2017/18 season.

The switch in stadia will take place as the club's current White Hart Lane home is being knocked down to make way for a new stadium, which the club hope will be ready for the 2018/19 season.

Part of the existing stadium is already in the process of being knocked down this summer, reducing the capacity for next season's final year at the old ground - requiring the club to make other arrangements for the lucrative Champions League fixtures they will compete in.

North London rivals Arsenal took their Champions League matches to Wembley for two seasons in the late 1990s - and the results were not entirely what they had hoped for.

Arsenal's Champions League matches at Wembley

30 Sept 1998 Bt Panathinaikos 2-1 (Adams, Keown)

21 Oct 1998 Drew with Dynamo Kiev 1-1 (Bergkamp)

25 Nov 1998 Lost to Lens 1-0

22 Sept 1999 Bt AIK Solna 3-1 (Ljungberg, Henry, Suker)

19 Oct 1999 Lost to Barcelona 4-2 (Bergkamp, Overmars)

27 Oct 1999 Lost to Fiorentina 1-0

Arsene Wenger's side took the decision to play their European Cup matches in 1998/99 and 1999/2000 away from Highbury in order to maximise revenue - but they could only win two of the six matches.

Having won the double in 1998, big things were expected of Arsenal in the Champions League the following Autumn - but victory over Panathinaikos in their first match at their new 'home' could only be followed by a late draw with Dynamo Kiev and defeat to Lens, in a match that saw Ray Parlour sent-off.

Remi Garde appeals for offside as Sergei Rebrov equalises for Dynamo Kiev in 1998 (Gettty)

Arsenal returned to the old stadium for their return to the competition the followng year, and began well as injury-time goals from Thierry Henry and Davor Suker secured a 3-1 victory over AIK Solna.

That was the prove the height of their success, however, as reverses to Barcelona and Fiorentina followed - the latter inspired by Gabriel Batistuta.

Marc Overmars competes for the ball against Lens as Arsenal finished their Wembley campaign with a defeat in 1998 (Getty)

That second season's failure to exit the group stages meant that, courtesy of a new rule change, Wenger's side dropped down into the Uefa Cup for the rest of the campaign.

With the matches played back at the close confines and atmospheric conditions of Highbury, the Gunners fared better - making it through four rounds all the way to the final, where they lost on penalties to Galatasaray in Copenhagen.

Scorers Davor Suker and Thierry Henry celebrate as Arsenal beat AIK Solna in 1999 (Getty)

Some supporters feel the larger pitch at Wembely would suit Tottenham's expansive coutner-attacking style more, although the Lilywhites would do well to learn from Arsenal that a move to supposed greater arenas does not necessarily equate to success.

Tottenham do not hold a great record in matches at the new Wembley, winning none of their six matches there follownig the 2008 League Cup final success over Chelsea.

Martin Keown pulls back Barcelona forward Patrick Kluivert at Wembley in 1999 (Getty)

Harry Redknapp's side lost the League Cup final to Manchester United on penalties there the followng year, months before friendly matches aganist Celtic and Barcelona brought little success.

FA Cup semi-final defeats to Portsmouth, in 2010, and Chelsea, in 2012, followed, before again losing to the Blues in last year's League Cup final.

Gabriel Batistuta leads the Fiorentina celebrations as the Italian side win 1-0 at Wembley in 1999 (Getty)

Spurs do, however, hold a good, if brief, record in the European Cup, having reached at least the quarter-finals in both seasons they have played in the competition.

Semi-final defeat to Benfica in 1961/62 for Bill Nicholson's side preceded a first season in the revamped Champions League in 2010/11.

Tottenham supporters have seen their side win just once in seven matches at the new Wembley Stadium (Getty)

Beating Young Boys in a play-off, Redknapp led his side to first place in their group campaign, ahead of holders Internazionale - winning all of their home games at White Hart Lane.

Second round victory over Milan followed, before a 5-0 aggregate humbling at the hands of Jose Mourinho's Real Madrid.

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