Champions League: How Newcastle, Arsenal and Man Utd have changed since last tournament appearance

Champions League Newcastle Arsenal Man Utd

Champions League: Newcastle, Arsenal and Man Utd are awaiting the draw

Jack Otway

By Jack Otway

Published: 31/08/2023

- 12:55

With the Champions League draw rapidly approaching, excitement for the tournament is rising.

Newcastle, Arsenal and Manchester United will all be returning to the competition, with all three sides failing to finish in the top four during the 2021/2022 season.

Arsenal secured their spot by finishing second, narrowly missing out on the Premier League title to Manchester City.

Manchester United then managed to secure a third-place finish, with Newcastle booking their own place in Europe's top-tier club competition by finishing fourth.

Alan Shearer Newcastle

Alan Shearer was Newcastle captain the last time they played in the Champions League


City, obviously, won the treble last season. Barring some minor tweaks, it will be largely the same squad going for the trophy again this season.

But their rivals have all changed considerably since their last appearances in the tournament.

Newcastle last played in the Champions League back in the 2002/2003 season, when they reached the second group stage.

That same stage no longer exists.

Newcastle finished third in that group, behind Barcelona and Inter Milan, with the late, great Sir Bobby Robson manager at the time.

Alan Shearer was captain, with the late Gary Speed his deputy, while they also had players such as Shay Given, Nolberto Solano, Jermaine Jenas, Kieron Dyer and Craig Bellamy in their squad.

Newcastle lost their first three games in the tournament to Dynamo Kiev, Feyenoord and Juventus.

But they then responded by securing victories over those three sides to make the next round.

That would be as good as it got for Robson's side, however.

Newcastle were able to beat Bayer Leverkusen home and away but picking up just one point from 12 in matches against Inter and Barcelona meant they were eliminated.

As for Arsenal, their last appearance in the Champions League was back in the 2016/2017 season.

They came top of a group also consisting of Paris Saint-Germain, Ludogrets Razgrad and FC Basel.

Arsenal were unbeaten during the group stages, with draws against PSG home and away particularly impressive.

Yet the writing was on the wall the moment they were drawn against Bayern Munich in the round of 16.

The Bundesliga giants were far too strong, winning 10-2 on aggregate. Theo Walcott scored for Arsenal in the second leg at the Emirates but a team that also had the likes of David Ospina, Aaron Ramsey, Alexis Sanchez and Olivier Giroud crumbled on a chastening night on home soil.

Manchester United, meanwhile, are returning to the competition following their absence last year.

But while they've only been away from the Champions League for a brief period, plenty has still changed.

Five of the United side that started their 1-0 defeat to Atletico in March 2022 have now left, with David De Gea, Alex Telles, Fred, Anthony Elanga and Cristiano Ronaldo all gone.

And Ralf Rangnick, who was in the dugout for the match, was never given the keys to Old Trafford on a full-time basis.


Theo Walcott Arsenal Bayern Munich

Theo Walcott scored for Arsenal when they lost to Bayern Munich in 2017


United had come through a group consisting of Villarreal, Atalanta and Young Boys. Erik ten Hag will be hoping to get his side out of the group stages at the very least as the club look to win the trophy for the first time since 2008.

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