What do Arsenal need to qualify for Champions League Round of 16? Knockout permutations and results needed

For the first time in six years, Arsenal are officially back in the Champions League knockout stage.

A 6-0 thrashing of Lens on Matchday 5 avenged their defeat in France and mathematically secured the top spot in Group B with one game remaining.

In their first season in the UEFA Champions League since 2016-17, Arsenal made up for lost time by whalloping PSV 4-0 at home – but their campaign faltered as they were surprisingly beaten at Lens shortly after. Yet it’s all gone their way since, topping Sevilla twice before the latest heavy victory.

The milestone means the Gunners remain perfect in Champions League group stage play across club history, never failing to progress through to the knockout stage when taking part in the competition.

The Sporting News reviews how Arsenal managed to secure qualification to the 2023/24 Round of 16.

MORE: Read our report as Arsenal beat Sevilla

How can Arsenal qualify for the Champions League knockout stages?

To qualify for the Round of 16, Arsenal had to finish in the top two of Group B, drawn alongside Sevilla, PSV, and Lens.

Opening with an emphatic 4-0 victory over PSV in late September, Mikel Arteta’s side put forth a marker of intent. They suffered their only blemish through five games on the road at Lens, falling 2-1 as Bukayo Saka came off injured early in the game.

Yet they would recover in short order, topping Sevilla 2-1 in Spain before winning the reverse fixture 2-0 at home two weeks later, putting the Gunners in a great position atop the group. The 6-0 demolition of Lens at home officially claimed a place in the Round of 16, putting them four points adrift of anyone else with just one match remaining.

Last season, 10 points was enough to go through in three groups, with 9 being enough in another. Thus, Arsenal’s 12 points through five matches proved a hefty total, and there could be more to come in the final game against second-place PSV, who have also secured qualification.

MORE: Champions League group-stage standings 2023/24

Group B table

Team PTS GP W L D GF GA GD
1. Arsenal 12 5 4 1 0 15 3 +12
2. PSV 8 5 2 1 2 7 9 -2
3. Lens 5 5 1 2 2 4 10 -6
4. Sevilla 2 5 0 3 2 6 10 -4

Group B schedule and results

Date Match
Wed, Sept. 20 Sevilla 1-1 Lens
Wed, Sept. 20 Arsenal 4-0 PSV
Tue, Oct. 3 Lens 2-1 Arsenal
Tue, Oct. 3 PSV 2-2 Sevilla
Tue, Oct. 24 Sevilla 1-2 Arsenal
Tue, Oct. 24 Lens 1-1 PSV
Wed, Nov. 8 Arsenal 2-0 Sevilla
Wed, Nov. 8 PSV 1-0 Lens
Wed, Nov. 29 Sevilla 2-3 PSV
Wed, Nov. 29 Arsenal 6-0 Lens
Tue, Dec. 12 Lens vs. Sevilla
Tue, Dec. 12 PSV vs. Arsenal

Will Arsenal qualify for the Champions League knockout stages?

According to UEFA.com, who reviewed previous Champions League seasons to create a probability rating, Arsenal had an 83% chance of going through at the halfway point of the competition, while PSV sported just a 16% chance.

The site, however, pointed out that even seven points at the midway point – one more than Arsenal gained – has not been enough for four teams involved since 2003-04.

PSV and Sevilla may have taken encouragement from the fortunes of some of those teams to recover from slow starts. Lille, Roma, Manchester City, Stuttgart and Celta Vigo have all qualified for the round of 16 in previous seasons after being in the same predicament as them, and Atalanta remain the only team in history to progress after losing all of their first three games, achieving the feat of redemption in 2019-20.

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How many English teams have won the Champions League?

The Champions League has only seen six different English teams claim the title. Manchester United were the first English side to lift the European Cup back in 1968. Less than a decade later, in 1976/77 Bob Paisley led Liverpool to a 3-1 win against Borussia Monchengladbach in Rome. Nottingham Forest’s ‘miracle men’ were the side who won it back-to-back in 1979 and 1980 before Aston Villa won their first in 1982. 

In 2008, United defeated Chelsea in an all-English final, while Chelsea avenged their loss in 2012 against Bayern Munich. Manchester City then lifted the title in Istanbul when they beat Inter Milan in 2023.

England boasts 15 European Cup/Champions League titles, led by Liverpool with six wins. Manchester United has three, Chelsea and Nottingham Forest have two, and Aston Villa secured another, before Manchester City won their first in 2022/23.

In the 2023/24 Champions League group stages, reigning champions Man City, Man United, Arsenal, and Newcastle United represent the Premier League.

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