Arsenal - A Season Review

Arsenal – A Season Review

Arsenal are generally disappointing at the start of their season and this season was no different.

Despite the fact Granit Xhaka and Rob Holding were bought for £30 million and £2 million respectively. Arsene Wenger was soon under fire for failing to secure the services of Jamie Vardy and buying Takuma Asano.

Their first game of the season, a 4-3 loss to Liverpool, was the third time in four years they had lost on the opening day. The fans already began questioning the pulling power of the club despite the fact Arsenal had qualified for the Champions League for 20 consecutive seasons.

The second game of the season was away to Leicester, where both teams were searching for their first win. Their search would have to wait a little longer as they drew 0-0. Arsenal’s first win of the season came at the third time of asking after first half goals from Sanchez, Cazorla and Ozil helped beat Watford 3-1.

On the 28th of August, Arsenal found their striker and bought Spaniard Lucas Perez from Deportivo La Coruna after triggering his £17.1 million release clause. Perez had an exceptional season the year before, grabbing 17 goals and setting up 8 more in 36 appearances.

A few days later World Cup winner Shkodran Mustafi was bought for £35 million from Valencia which filled the hole left by Mertesacker through injury. Arsenal were strong entering September.

Wins against Southampton and Hull in the Premier League bought Arsenal back into contention for the Premier League title and momentum was building.

In the Champions League, a draw against French giants PSG and a win against Basel left them 2nd in their group only on goal difference. At the end of September, Arsenal beat Chelsea for the first time in the league for 5 years.

A last minute goal from Laurent Koscielny helped defeat Burnley in a game dominated by the Gunners. Another slim win against Swansea where Granit Xhaka got his first red card of the season put Arsenal second in the table.

A 6-0 hammering of Ludogorets in the Champions League made sure they topped their group. However, a 0-0 draw against Middlesbrough at home created a gap between themselves and the top of the league. Arsenal ended October with wins against Reading in the EFL Cup and a 4-1 win against Sunderland in the Premier League.

Arsenals next game was against Ludogorets in the Champions League and even though Ludogorets rushed into a 2 goal lead, Arsenal fought back to win 3-2, securing their place at the top of Group A.

The first North London Derby ended 1-1 and a last minute equaliser against Manchester United kept them at the top end of the league. A home tie at the Emirates against PSG ended 2-2, which put PSG top due to their head-to-head record. A comfortable win against Bournemouth placed them in the familiar position of 4th and three points behind leaders Chelsea.

Arsenal scored a combined 12 goals against West Ham, Basel and Stoke, beating them all by comfortable margins and securing a place at the top of their Champions League group. However, back to back defeats against Everton followed, conceding a late goal and then against title contenders, Man City, losing 2-1. They finished the year with a home win against West Brom and finished the year in 4th position, 9 points behind Chelsea.

Arsenal started the new year with a bang with Olivier Giroud scoring a contender for goal of the season, a scorpion kick going in off the bar. Arsenal then mounted a superb comeback against Bournemouth, after salvaging a draw from a 3-0 deficit.

Despite the heroics of the team, the gap from Chelsea widened and their title chances were disintegrating fast. They almost slipped up against Preston North End after going 1 goal down after 7 minutes and were under immense pressure.

Fortunately, a goal from Ramsey and a last minute goal from Giroud helped avert the crisis in the FA Cup. Arsenal beat Swansea comfortably by 4 goals then played Burnley in their next game at the Emirates.

Burnley only picked up one point on the road at this point in the season and were sure to make it 2 points after an injury time penalty from Andre Gray equalised for the clarets.

A controversial penalty was awarded to Arsenal in the 97th minute and Sanchez fired in from the spot to steal all three points. A Danny Welbeck hat trick put down Southampton in the FA cup and Arsenal advanced into the quarter finals.

Arsenal’s Premier League form suffered again at the hands of Watford as they came out 2-1 winners.

A second consecutive loss against Chelsea stretched the gap to 12 points between the two clubs and left Arsenal in 3rd. Despite the fact they topped their Champions League they inevitably drew Bayern Munich in the round of 16, the second time they faced the German champions in 4 years. They suffered a truly embarrassing 5-1 defeat.

The path to the FA cup semi finals were a walk in the park, on paper with ties against two non league sides. First up were Sutton who Arsenal beat 2-0 and then in the quarter finals, Lincoln who were beaten 5-0.

Despite reaching the semis of the cup, the Emirates was not a happy place after suffering a 10-2 aggregate defeat against Bayern Munich. They also lost to top 4 challengers Liverpool.

After losing 3-1 to West Brom, their form did not improve and Arsenal managed to embarrass themselves further by flying two contradictory planes over the Hawthorns about the future of Arsene Wenger.

Arsenal’s form since then has been inconsistent getting wins against West Ham, Middlesbrough, Leicester, Man United and Southampton in the league.

They also  advanced to the final of the FA Cup by beating Manchester City in extra time, however losses against Crystal Palace and Tottenham have their top 4 hopes hanging by a thread and ultimately out of their hands.

Analysis & Opinion

Arsene Wenger has divided opinion between the Arsenal fanbase. The atmosphere at the Emirates is almost toxic with marches arranged and protests.

Arsenal have almost become a meme over the past few months especially with things such as Arsenal Fan TV gaining popularity recently where fans go on explicit rants about Wenger, the board and the club in general.

There is an argument that his tactics are outdated and he is reluctant to change but he has switched to a 3-4-3 formation since the loss to Crystal Palace.

He has been coy about his future which has left many Arsenal fans disgruntled, especially with reports that there is a 2 year deal waiting for Wenger if he chooses. The summer coming up is a big one for Wenger and even more so for Arsenal.

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