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How good is Arsenal’s defence?

Lee Dixon. Tony Adams. Steve Bould. Nigel Winterburn. Martin Keown. David Seaman.

Lauren. Kolo Toure. Sol Campbell. Ashley Cole. Martin Keown. Jens Lehmann.

First, George Graham, and then Arsene Wenger, have managed to build two great defensive units in the past for Arsenal. While Graham managed to build a resilient, hard-tackling English unit, which lasted a good part of a decade, winning 3 championships, Arsene Wenger built a defence, mixed with both English and multicultural talent, which went on to win 2 league titles, one of which was an unbeaten campaign. This unit was more adept in going forward, and blended amazingly well with the talented array of players going forward.

However, over the last few seasons, the Arsenal defence, which had been renowned for so long, has disintegrated, and is a thing of the past. Arsenal shipped out Lauren, Sol Campbell and Ashley Cole, by 2006. Taking their places were young Swiss centre-backs Phillipe Senderos and Johan Djourou, along with Kolo Toure’s Ivorian teammate Emmanuel Eboue and Ashley Cole’s understudy Gael Clichy. The defence put in some massive displays in Europe as Arsenal went on to the Champions League final, before eventually losing. William Gallas was soon added to bolster the defence. The defence had some much needed experience now, in its heart and had two bombing full-backs. And, by 2007, Arsenal had signed French international Bacary Sagna to replace the erratic Emmanuel Eboue, who played second fiddle. Arsenal came so very close to silverware, before Eduardo suffered a horrific injury.

By 2009, the last of the Invincible’s defence, had gone, as Kolo Toure departed for Moneybags City. Arsenal secured the signature of a tough tackling Belgian centre-half Thomas Vermaelen, to partner William Gallas. Also, joining was former Manchester United defender Mikael Silvestre. In January, Wenger resigns Sol Campbell on a short term basis. But, a spate of poor performances, and Campbell, Gallas and Silvestre were shown the door. Phillipe Senderos, who has turned out for AC Milan, and Everton in the last couple of seasons, finally leaves on a free transfer. In came, two more unassuming Frenchmen Laurent Koscielny, and Sebastien Squillaci. The club has had a host of goalkeepers in this period, including Jens Lehmann, Manuel Almunia, Lukasz Fabianski, Vito Mannone et al. By 2010, Arsene Wenger handed a contract to young Academy graduate Wojciech Szczesny. In the summer of 2011, Arsenal let go of Gael Clichy, to Moneybags City, while snapping up Brazilian interbational left-back Andre Santos and German centre-back Per Mertesacker.

So, after all the circus that’s taken place, Arsenal’s first choice defence reads,

Bacary Sagna. Laurent Koscielny. Thomas Vermaelen. Andre Santos. Wojciech Szczesny.

While, the second choice backline reads,

Carl Jenkinson. Per Mertesacker. Johan Djourou. Kieran Gibbs. Lukasz Fabianski.

With reserves such as Nico Yennaris, Sebastien Squillaci and young Spanish defencer Ignasi Miquel. The question I am asking is how good is Arsenal’s defence. Let’s take a look.

Wojciech Szczesny

Szczesny has been a breath of fresh air. He is passionate, young, talented and determined. He seems to be the answer for all of Arsenal’s goalkeeping woes in the past, and has pulled off some amazing saves this season. He is a fine goalie, but he isn’t the best when it comes to facing free-kicks.

On quite a few ocassions this season, the two Rooney free-kicks at Old Trafford, Larsson’s free kick in the Sunderland game and the Pedersen dead ball goal against Blackburn are proof. Szczesny was a bit late in reacting, and failed to read the flight of the ball, and when he did, he had little time to react. He has saved some mammoth penalties this season, including the di Natale one in Udinese and Dirk Kuyt against Liverpool. He remains the best bet for being goalkeeper in the coming seasons for the club.

Bacary Sagna

The French right-back has gone from strength to strength, and is probably the best right-back in the league. His performances have been consistent throughout the season. Defensively, he has the ability to break down attacks from the left, with ease. He showed his tenacity against players such as Martin Petrov, Stewart Downing and Gareth Bale, essentially left-wingers. However, when up against very skillful forwards, Sagna does tend to get caught out. For example, Luis Suarez or Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Ibrahimovic managed to waltz his way past Sagna numerous times, in the 4-0 thumping at the San Siro. What Sagna does best is provide the right platform for Theo Walcott to bomb forward on the right wing, while himself being able to provide thrusts from the back.

The emergence of Alex Song is vital for the good form of Bacary Sagna. What Song does best is rotate in the midfield area right in front of defence. This gives Sagna time to drop back. Though on some instances, Sagna gets caught out when the balls are played far behind him, and he is up against a pacy winger.

Laurent Koscielny

Without a shadow of a doubt, Koscielny is Arsenal’s most improved player this season. He must have felt, what can be called as a ‘culture shock’, when he arrived from Lorient at the start of last season. He was seen as a weakly built defender, who could not get to grips with the pace of the Premier League. However, this season, we have seen nothing short of brilliant from Koscielny. He has been comfortable in dealing with top strikers, the likes of Ba, Aguero, Ibrahimovic, Sessegnon and Adebayor.

What helps Koscielny is his nimble movement, which allows him to transfer his weight while defending against quick opponents. A clear case is how he kept Messi under wraps last season against Barcelona. His reading of the game has improved. In the second leg against AC Milan, it was quite visible the number of interceptions he managed to make. Another feature of Koscielny’s game is getting behind the striker, and taking hold of possesion in crucial positions.¬†By early January, Koscielny ranked 1st in the league in between center backs for tackles at 2.7 per game, 1st in the league between center backs for interceptions with 2.8 per game, 2nd overall with 1.6 off-sides won per game and 30th overall with 5.7 clearances per game. He has put in some fantastic performances this season, which include the win in Marseille and at Chelsea, also the second leg against Milan.

Thomas Vermaelen

As Arsenal’s best defender, Vermaelen brings a lot to the team. Sorely missed through the entirity of last campaign, Vermaelen has played lot more games this season, more so at left-back. He is probably today’s version of Tony Adams, and what Arsenal have missed for so many seasons now, that little bit of steel at the back. Vermaelen, despite his short stature, can get over the striker, to make vital clearances, while his tackles also possess bite. His abilities also mean he has filled in at left-back, which has been a problematic spot for Arsenal this campaign.

The Belgian also brings with him natural marshalling abilities. He knows how to organize defences, to brace for an attack or a corner. His ability going forward is also unquestionable, when he thumped in important goals, namely the equalizer against Fulham, and the winner against Newcastle. What Vermaelen, at times, does lack, is alertness. In the Spurs match, he left acres of space, for Saha to score the first goal. And, against Manchester United, he was not quick enough to react, allowing Valencia to score the opening goal. Also, he can be suspect to that extra bit of injection of pace, as was visible against players like Bale, Robinho and Suarez.

Andre Santos

Santos was signed from Fenerbahce on the last day of the transfer window. He has since appeared 14 times, before his season was cut short in the meaningless Champions League game against Olympiakos. Santos has it in him to be Arsenal’s left back for the next few seasons. He is adventurous, pacy and scores goals. He did take some time to settle into Arsenal’s style of play, but when he seemed like staking down his place, he was dealt with the injury.

Santos loves going forward, probably because of his Brazilian genes, and the fact that he has to fill the boots of a certain Roberto Carlos. He can really bomb up and down the pitch, and scored two fine goals, one against Olympiakos and the other against Chelsea. However, criticism is that he forgets his defensive duties far too often, and that puts pressure back on the central defenders.

Lukasz Fabianski

Fabianski is a bit of a question mark, still. He is usually deployed in cup games, and dead rubber ties. He was horrendous in the Olympiakos game, but did manage to pull of some fine saves in the cup games. However, he is still second best to Szczesny, and I expect him to leave in the summer, for more first-team football.

Carl Jenkinson

Jenkinson, all of 19 years old, was signed from Charlton during the transfer window, and was thrown into the limelight very early, against Udinese in the Champions League and Liverpool in the Premier League, coming on for injured players. He also played in that game at Old Trafford. However, as his performances gradually began to get better, he suffered an injury.

Jenkinson, like Sagna loves to go forward, and like Santos, forgets he is still a defender. Gareth Bale, proved that for a few minutes in the league game in October. Jenkinson needs to work on his pace a bit, and also balancing between defence and attack.

Per Mertesacker

Mertesacker, like Santos was a deadline day signing, probably a desperate signing, rather. He struggled at first against pacy opponents in the Premier League. For example, the game against Norwich, where he was completely caught unaware, or even against Fulham, where he came up against the physicality of Dempsey, Ruiz and Zamora, and against Swansea, where he had to contend with the quick Swansea passing.

However, Mertesacker’s performances have gradually improved. He has vast experience at the international level, donning the German shirt over 70 times. He may lack a bit of pace, but his reading of the game was second to none. His performance against Manchester United stands out, where he kept Danny Wellbeck, the swift striker, quiet for large parts of the game. But, unfotunately even his season has been cut short by injury.

Johan Djourou

Let’s put this into perspective. Johan Djourou is not a bad option for 4th choice centre-back. He has been at Arsenal for 8 years now, and has represented Switzerland 30 times, and he is just 25. The problem with Djourou is, he just cant seem to put in that performance where he can quiet the critics. But instead, he goes from one shambolic display to another. But, is it really his fault that he was played at right-back for most part of the season, whereas his favoured position is centre-back. He had a torrid game against Fulham, and a pathetic game against Manchester United, where he was subbed at half-time. He conceded a penalty against Milan, without which, we had a great chance of going through

Flashes of optimism remain though. He was massive last season, more so in the game against Barcelona where he kept the best attack on the planet, unusually dormant. He played remarkably well in a few games this season, out of position, as well as providing a fine assist in Marseille. Yes, but he still needs to do a lot of work on his defending as well as his pace, if he wants to be a success at this club.

Kieran Gibbs

Gibbs comes from a long line of left-backs in the Arsenal production centre, which has produced the likes of Ashley Cole, Gael Clichy and Armand Traore, all of whom ply their trade elsewhere in the league. Gibbs, essentially, is very similiar to the player I mentioned, in terms of his game. He is defensively sound, and good going forward, and does have the ability of scoring an odd goal in a season.

He does have pace, but at times can be easily knackered by bulkier, more physical opponents. However, he seems willing to improve. He is all of 21, and has put in a fine performances this season, in the few times he has played. I do expect Arsene Wenger to keep Gibbs as second fiddle to Santos.

Nico Yennaris

Yennaris has been one of the revelations this season, though not to the scale of, say, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. He played in the League Cup games against Shrewsbury and Bolton, but his biggest performance, was against Manchester United, when he came on to replace a hapless Djourou. He tracked Nani exceptionally well, and never allowed the Portugese winger to get in some decent crosses. He provides good stability at right-back.

Sebastien Squillaci

One of Arsene Wenger’s poorest signings, again, though, I have to say, he is not a bad player to have as 5th choice centre-half. He has appeared over 20 times for France, and has experienced French and Spanish football. Of course, the English game is a completely different ball game, and at age 31, I wouldn’t expect Squillaci to flourish much. He could be shown the door at the end of the season.

Ignasi Miquel

Another young player to look forward to, Ignasi Miquel looks a polished young defender, at the raw age of 19. He has put in some good performances, usually out of position at left-back in the League Cup and against Manchester City and Swansea in the league.

LOWDOWN

So, now that we have seen Arsenal’s defenders, what really is Arsenal’s best defensive unit.

At right-back, there can be no question about Bacary Sagna. He has been Arsenal’s most consistent player over the last 4 seasons.

At centre-back, Arsene Wenger has a pleasant problem on his hands, as he gets to choose between 3 world-class defenders. While Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny, look a great pair, and complement each others styles, Thomas Vermaelen adds that extra bit of steel to the defence. I think Laurent Koscielny is one of the first names on the team sheet. The choice between Vermaelen and Mertesacker is a tough one, but I think Vermaelen just edges it.

At left-back, too, Arsene Wenger has a happy problem. Andre Santos has bags of experience, while Kieran Gibbs is young, raw and English. I think Andre Santos edges it here, because of his overall play.

SUMMARY

So, the answer to the question, how good is Arsenal’s defence?

Martin Keown, in an interview recently told that Arsenal’s defence is as good as any other in the league. I certainly think so, they are. A defence of Sagna, Koscielny, Vermaelen and Santos looks strong on paper. Arsenal need to stop making ridiculous errors, if they are to win any silverware next season. They have already conceded 39 goals in just 28 games, and that number needs to reduce.

I am no big football analyst, but Desi Gunner is. I read this amazing article, about Arsenal’s defensive issues. It is a must read.

Jai Arsenal ūüôā

 
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Posted by on March 20, 2012 in General

 

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2010-2011 Season Review – Heartbreakingly Close

Well, here’s my last season review. The 2010-2011 season, another topsy-turvy season, full of memories, both good, bad and the ugly.

Arsene Wenger was, again, characteristically quiet in the transfer market. The only signings were the prolific Moroccan striker Marrouane Chamakh on a free transfer and French defenders Laurent Koscielny from Lorient and Sebastien Squillaci from Sevilla for a combined fee of £12 million. Koscielny had seen a meteoric rise through French football, having played for Guingamp in Ligue 3 and Tours FC in Ligue 2, very recently.

Arsenal’s 3 most experienced defenders had left the club. William Gallas made a switch down North London with rivals Cunty Spuds, Sol Campbell moved to Newcastle and Mikael Silvestre joined German side Werder Bremen. Phillipe Senderos too made a cross-London switch to Fulham. Striker Eduardo left for Shakhthar Donetsk to play more frequent first-team football. Highly talented, but struck with a fatal injury in 2008, Eduardo was never able to reach his previous heights nor regain his old touch.

Arsenal’s first game was Liverpool at Anfield in the league, and not a Champions League qualifier, as they had finished 3rd the previous season. Chamakh and Koscielny both debuted for Arsenal and so did Joe Cole, all three of them making the headlines, the next day. While Cole got sent off for a tackle on Koscielny, Koscielny himself was on the receiving end of the ref’s marching orders. The 10 men battled and took the lead through David N’gog, and Arsenal’s patience finally paid off as Chamakh’s diverted shot was bundled home by Pepe Reina.

It’s a howler!!¬†

Arsenal’s intentions were clearly there to be seen as they thrashed newcomers Blackpool 6-0, Theo Walcott claiming a hat-trick. Chamakh was impressive in the opening games, creating space for midfielders to spray in balls, with his hold-up play. He scored against Blackpool as well as against Bolton in a 4-1 win.

Baptism of fire for the new boys!

Braga, like Blackpool too were hit for a 6 as a rampant Arsenal started their Champions League campaign in ruthless fashion. Fabregas and Carlos Vela both bagged a brace apiece, while Chamakh and Arshavin added to the goals.

After Blackpool, it’s Braga’s turn!¬†

The winning start was halted at the Stadium of Light, against Sunderland. Fabregas had scored the luckiest of goals as his shot deflected off Anton Ferdinand to lob over Mignolet. Arsenal should have won this game, but Tomas Rosicky blazed his penalty over. Darren Bent made the Gunners pay with a 95th minute equaliser.

And the following Tuesday, Cunty Spuds hosted Arsenal in the League Cup. Henri Lansbury had scored the opener in the 15th minute. Spuds fought back hard to equalise in the 49th minute, but Arsenal took stranglehold of the game as Samir Nasri converted two penalties in extra-time, and Andrey Arshavin rounded off the scoring in the 105th minute, for yet another win at Shit Fart Lane.

The local boys Lansbury, Gibbs and Wilshere! 

Days later, Arsenal were bought back down to earth by West Bromwich Albion. West Brom were clinical, while Arsenal were wasteful, as they took a 3-0 lead by 73 minutes. Two goals by Samir Nasri weren”t enough to prevent a 2-3 home loss. A 2-0 loss at Stamford Bridge, against Chelsea followed, with Alex scoring a scorcher. (Why does everyone reserve their best against us?)

Birmingham were beaten 2-1 at the Emirates, with goals from Chamakh and Nasri, and big-spending Manchester City were beaten in their own backyard 3-0, despite playing a makeshift defence of Squillaci and Johann Djourou, against the likes of Carlos Tevez and David Silva. Nasri and Fabregas were brilliant throughout. Shakhthar were thrashed 5-1 at the Emirates, as the Gunners made it 14 goals in just 3 Champions League games.

Newcastle were eliminated 4-0 in the League Cup, Walcott helping himself to two more. Arsenal battled hard against West Ham, before Alex Song popped up with a 88th minute winner.

1-0 to the Arsenal!!And that’s how we like it!!¬†

But Arsenal’s form graph had more curves than Jennifer Lopez. They lost 2-1 in Ukraine to Shakhthar Donetsk, old boy Eduardo scoring the winner, but not celebrating. And Newcastle piled misery, escaping with a 1-0 win, the was-to-be¬†¬£35 million man Andy Carroll scoring the winner.

Chamakh built on his impressive form, scoring 2 against Wolves at the Molineux, one in the first minute, and the next in the very last. And more away points were secured at the Goodison in a 2-1 win.It was around this time the blasted cable operator decided to remove ESPN-Star Sports and replace it with the greatest Ranji Trophy matches between Baroda and Mumbai, with the introduction of Neo Cricket and Neo Sports. Boy, the only spectators for these games were the batting team, the TV umpires and the ground staff. What a goofball.

I was so desperate for watching the North London derby, I dialled up half the people in my contacts to find out who was getting ESPN or anyone who would be streaming the game. Finally, Prajwal Pai responded positively. After lots of waiting, I finally got to his house to discover his cable operator, too, had just removed the channels.This was turning into a nightmare. We followed the game via BBC live text. Soon, Arsenal were 2-0 up by 28 minutes and in total control. I could never imagine what was to transpire in the second half. Gareth Bale scored one in the 50th minute, before Rafael van der Vaart equalised in the 67th minute through a penalty. And we decided to stream the last 5 minutes. The first thing we saw was Younes Kaboul heading Cunty Spuds into the lead in the 86th minute. We had lost a home North London derby after ages.

Despite rare occurances, this should be made illegal!

If that was not enough, Arsenal were beaten 2-0 in Portugal by Braga, the same team that we had decimated 6-0 few days earlier, which meant a win was necessary to book progress to the next round. On this form, I would have expected Arsenal to capitulate at Villa Park, but a brilliant and much-sought win was secured. Arsenal won 4-2 and Arshavin scored a peach.

Villa dispatched! 

Jack Wilshere was brilliant all season for Arsenal Though short and lightly built, he was a wonderful schemer and acute in midfield. It was just like watching Andres Iniesta in action. How Arsenal needed a pass master. And what’s more, he was just 19. He was not one to be daunted to make or take a tackle. A legend in the making, and something that Arsenal were looking for a long time.

3 important points were chalked up Fulham were beaten ¬†2-1 at home, which was won all thanks to the brilliance of Samir Nasri. He scored the first, dancing past Fulham’s defence. Diomansy Kamara equalised, but a flash of genius from Nasri in the 75th minute won the game. He dinked the ball past a crowded defence to slot home the winner. Partizan Belgrade, too, were beaten 3-1, as van Persie announced his return from injury by scoring a penalty.

Samir puts his dancing boots on! 

Arsenal travelled to Old Trafford for their next fixture, and third-choice goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny was called into action. The game was quite a rash affair, and Park Ji-Sung scored the only goal of the game in the 41st minute. Szczesny was called into action quite a number of times and the Pole made a good account of himself. Arsenal were now 2 points behind Manure, having played a game more.

The form graph saw an upward curve as Arsenal hosted Chelsea. The cable operator, thankfully, decided to  put ESPN for some time, and I got to watch this game. Arsenal were all over Chelsea, just like the home fans were over Cashley Cole. The Gunners dominated and were 3-0 up in 54 minutes; Song, Fabregas and Walcott helping themselves to goals. The game ended 3-1, and it seemed Arsenal were there or thereabouts in the title race.

Destroyers-in-chief! 

Sebastien Squillaci seemed to be putting himself in a long line of legendary Arsenal defenders such as Ian Ure, Gus Caesar, Igor Stepanovs, Nelson Vivas and Pascal ‘Zinedine’ Cygan as his own goal against Wigan Athletic would prove. Arsenal’s bogey team, Birmingham were beaten 3-0, with a great free-kick from Robin van Persie. I despised Birmingham City. They played crappy football and one of them injured one of us so badly, it almost ruined a promising career. ¬†Not only did they derail us that campaign, they played a big part in this season as well.

January bought in some much needed Cup respite, as well as uneeded Cup replays. Leeds United were held to a draw by a 90th minute Fabregas penalty. It would have been a shock result, had Leeds held on, exactly a year after Leeds had ousted Manure at the same stage. Ipswich Town beat Arsenal 1-0 in a terrible game in the League Cup semi-final.

In the league, Robin van Persie was just starting a phenomenal year by warming up against West Ham, where he scored a brace and Wigan, where he hit a hat-trick. He also scored at Elland Road, in a 3-1 win, to secure passage to the next round, while Ipswich too were duly rounded 3-0 at the Emirates. Arsenal were in contention for all 4 trophies, at this stage, or were they?

Robin scores a hat-trick! 

Fabregas scored another face-saving penalty against Huddersfield Town in the FA Cup, to help the Gunners avoid another replay in an already piling fixture list, while Koscielny headed in a priceless 75th minute header against Everton to secure 3 points for the Gunners.

Another one of those penalties! 

The game of the season, the game of the century. Call it what you may, for me it was the most dreadful match any Gunner could have endured. Arsenal were rampant in the first half, and raced to a 4-0 lead in the 26th minute, van Persie scoring 2. It looked like Arsenal could run a cricket score here. Then, everything started going haywire. Abou Diaby and Joey Barton got involced in a scuffle, for which the former was sent off for lashing out at latter. The latter then scored a penalty some time later. It was 4-1. Surely, 3 goals were too much to ask for a team who had sold off their prized asset. Two minutes later, Kevin Nolan scored, and Leon Best’s goal made it 4-3 with 15 minutes to go. Just when it seemed Arsenal would see off all this Newcastle pressure, some bloke called Cheik Tiote fired in the ball from planet Pluto, and BAM, it was 4-4 in no time. Arsenal had missed a glorious opportunity to go 2 points behind leaders Manure. (Seriously, why do they reserve their best for Arsenal?)

That goal! ūüė¶

The game of the season was actually played 11 days later at the Emirates. Arsenal had again drawn Barcelona, this time in the knockout stage. Barcelona were reigning supreme in the world of football. None of the games they played, they had less than 70%¬†possession. In Lionel Messi, they had the world’s best player, in Xavi and Iniesta, two gnome-sized superhumans, and in David Villa, one of the most lethal strikers in Europe. In defence, they boasted the likes of Carles Puyol and Gerard Pique, who were the World-Cup winning defence, and a steady goalkeeper in Victor Valdes. All in all, they had the team that Planet Earth would put out, would there be an intergalactic football tournament. Moreover, they were bristling with confidence. They had won 16 games on the bounce in La Liga, and 4 days before the Arsenal tie, they had shockingly drawn Sporting Gijon.

And Arsenal?Well, they were the only team on the planet that would throw away leads of 4-0 and end up drawing the match. They were without their best defender Thomas Vermaelen. But there was more to it. Arsenal had guts. They were never fazed by better opposition, like the 05-06 European run would show, where a second string side beat the likes of Real Madrid, Juventus and Villarreal. Were Barcelona next in line?

They may be good, they may be great; but they can never beat our strongest, 11 on 11!

I had been waiting for the game in excitement ever since the draw was made. It was a very tense affair from the start as both teams were trying to get the better of the other. Both had very¬†similar¬†styles of play, trying to keep maximum¬†possession¬†of the ball. One¬†certain¬†man who stood out, was Arsenal’s own gnome-sized midfielder, the immensely talented Jack Wilshere. Up against a formidable midfield of Iniesta, Xavi and Sergio Busquets, Arsenal’s trio of Nasri, Fabregas and Wilshere were holding their own in an enthralling combat. Both teams created a flurry of chances. Arsenal’s fantastic start in the opening minutes was soon countered by Barca’s ability to keep the ball. Messi sent Villa through and he obliged with the opening goal of the match. I am sure all Gooners around the world were thinking ‘Here we go again’. But there was no stopping Arsenal. They kept probing Barca’s defence, even as Messi was guilty of closing out the tie. When it seemed it would end 1-0, Robin van Persie found himself facing Valdes in the narrowest of angles, and he let in a shot past him, that Valdes would have rued missing. The stadium erupted as the scoreboard read Arsenal 1 Barcelona 1. And 7 minutes later, Nasri was through on the right flank. He waited as van Persie and Arshavin entered play. Nasri sent the ball through to Arshavin, who precisely slotted home the goal of his life. Arsenal had just done the impossible, beating FC Barcelona fair and square. Absolute pandemonium erupted around the Emirates. Dani Alves had a chance later on, but somehow was kept out. As the final whistle blew, there was unparalleled joy. I was jumping around the living room. That was one unforgettable game of football.

Yes, that was cheeky Robin 

It’s that Russian again!!!¬†

Barca f*cked! 

From the heights of beating Barcelona in the biggest stage of all, Arsenal travelled down London, to Brisbane Road, to play lower league Leyton Orient in the 4th Round of the FA Cup. Tomas Rosicky’s strike seemed to have settled matters, before Orient¬†equalized¬†in the dying moments of the game, to force another replay. Beating Barcelona one moment and drawing Leyton Orient the next. Being an Arsenal fan is not for the faint-hearted.

Having gone 6 seasons without a trophy, the Carling Cup final against Birmingham at Wembley seemed the perfect setting to win silverware. Arsenal were without Fabregas and Walcott, who had been injured in a 1-0 win over Stoke Rugby team 3 days prior. I was with great expectation, to see Arsenal finally get their hands of the cup. Nikola Zigic, a giant of a striker headed Birmingham into the lead. But, Arsenal’s pressure finally told as Robin van Persie equalized, injuring him in the process, though he continued to play. Ben Foster became the ¬†goalkeeper for ‘Team Earth’ for a day as he kept out all of Arsenal’s shots, from Nasri, Arshavin, van Persie and Bendtner. In the 89th minute, calamity. Szczesny seemed to be taking control of the ball, as Koscielny waited for him to retrieve it. But, for some reason, he didn’t. The ball rolled to Obafemi Martins, in front of an empty net. He obliged and tapped home the winner. It was too late for the Gunners to muster a response and Birmingham had snatched the cup from Arsenal. I just couldn’t speak after the game, I was so distraught. As Wilshere and Co. climbed the steps to take their runners-up medals, I just wondered what would have been.

More cup-final heatbreak! ūüė¶

Days later, Arsenal responded with a 5-0 thrashing of Leyton Orient. Bendtner got a hat-trick. But the biggest test was to hold on to a 2-1 lead against Barcelona at the Nou Camp. Arsenal defended resolutely throughout the first half, but all hard work was undone as Lionel Messi made most of a Fabregas mistake to slot past Almunia. The score was 2-2 on aggregate, but the Catalans would go though on away goals. Barca were rampant in the first half, creating chance after chance. Arsenal could hardly get the ball past the halfway line. But, Samir Nasri’s corner was deflected in by Sergio Busquets for an own goal, and it seemed Arsenal would wriggle through somehow. It was completely against the run of play and undeserved. But no Gunner cared. But, from there, it all¬†spiraled¬†down. One of the most horrendous decisions by a ref, saw Robin van Persie being sent off. He was in an offside position when the referee blew, and kicked the ball 0.95 seconds after the whistle. Plus, the noise of over 90,000 fans in the stadium. The referee sent him off. It seemed like Barca had the ref’s¬†favoring¬†them again. There was no stopping them after that. Xavi scored soon after that and Messi converted a spot-kick to send Barca through. Jack Wilshere sent Niklas Bendtner through, in the dying moments, and had he scored, Arsenal would have gone through. But, I am pretty sure, every Arsenal fan in the world knew he wouldn’t. He didn’t. It ended Barcelona 3-1 Arsenal.

The worst decision in the history of the sport! ūüė¶

It’s over, at the Nou Camp, again! ūüė¶

4 days later, Arsenal faced another mountain to climb. Manchester United away in the 6th round of the FA Cup. Arsenal enjoyed lion’s share of the¬†possession, but Fabio’s goal in the 28th and Rooney’s in the 49th meant Arsenal were knocked out of their third competition in 2 weeks. The season was deteriorating and fast.

More misery in the cup! ūüė¶

And again, the Premier League was the last frontier of possible silverware. West Brom, who had already beaten the Gunners were 2-0 up at the Hawthorns, and an exit from a 4th competition in the space of 25 days seemed imminent. Andrey Arshavin rose to the occasion and let in a brilliant goal, before van Persie wriggled the ball past the goal-line. Blackburn held the Gunners to a goalless draw at the Emirates, to leave Arsenal 7 points off the pace, with a game in hand.

Jens Lehmann was the answer to Arsenal’s goalkeeping injury woes, as he made a return against Blackpool in the league. Arsenal won 3-1 to keep the gap the same, with a game against United still to come. The game in hand was against Liverpool, who visited the Emirates next. There was talk about Liverpool letting the Gunners win, as that was the only way they could prevent United from reaching the 19th title, and breaking Liverpool’s record of 18. Jamie Carragher suffered an¬†injury, and it resulted in treatment on the pitch for nearly 8 minutes. I was on a return journey from Bangalore and was depending on my friends’ text updates for live scores. When the 90th minute came, with the game still goalless, I knew it was all over. But then, I got the news that van Persie had converted a 98th minute penalty to hand Arsenal the lead in a must-win game. I didn’t bother touching my cell for the next 10 minutes or so. I was so confident that there was no coming back for Liverpool after this. The next thing I saw on my cell was Arsenal 1-1 Liverpool. Dirk Kuyt had scored a penalty in the 102nd minute. It struck me, Arsenal had no luck.

Kuyt strikes home Manure’s 19th title!

An exciting North London derby was up next. Both teams were treating it like a dead rubber and a fun tie. But, it was end-to-end stuff, with the game ending 3-3. Tottenham could have added to Arsenal’s misery, but Szczesny’s safe pair of hands denied them the chance. Instead, it went to Bolton Wanderers. Tamir Cohen’s 90th minute header effectively ended the title challenge. Arsenal were now 9 points off the pace, with 4 games to go.

That’s that..

Aaron Ramsey scored the only goal against Manchester United, as Arsenal closed the gap for Chelsea to 3 points, giving them hope, if not us, to win the league. Alas, for Liverpool, Manchester United went on to win their 19th title as Arsenal’s fans endured 2 more defeats; away to Stoke and home to Aston Villa.

Finally something to smile about 

Only a 89th minute Walcott goal avoided a 3rd straight end of the season run of losses against Fulham. Arsenal slipped to 4th, below Manchester City.

From being genuine contenders in 4 competitions at one stage, to the agony of getting knocked out of all in quick succession was a bitter pill to follow.

But, our time will come. It has to. I believe in the Arsenal. C’Mon you Gooners!!

Jai Arsenal ūüôā

Summary:

Premier League ‚Äď 4th place

FA Cup ‚Äď 6th Round

Carling Cup ‚Äď Runners-Up

Champions League ‚Äď Round of 16

Top Scorer ‚Äď Robin van Persie (22 goals in all competitions)

 
1 Comment

Posted by on December 15, 2011 in Season Reviews

 

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2005-2006 Season Review – The Final Salute

The 2005-2006 season brings back some amazing memories to me. The final farewell to a legend of English league Football, i.e The Arsenal Stadium, Highbury; the red-currant kit, the final season of the Dutch master Dennis Bergkamp and some more of the usual nitty-gritty of the season, which I will take you through in this post.

Club captain, and a towering influence in Arsenal’s midfield for 9 years, Patrick Vieira left for The Old Lady of Turin, supposedly to win the Champions League. Well, no disrespect to the legend, but all he got there was relegation to Serie-B, after the great Italian match-fixing scandal of 2006. Patrick left some great memories, arriving as a raw 19 year old in 1996, to replace the erratic Eddie McGoldrick, forming a strong midfield with compatriot Emmanuel Petit, hence contributing the the double success of the 1997-1998 season. His constant tussles with Manchester United skipper Roy Keane, were legendary, and Vieira had the last laugh as he took the decisive penalty in the 2005 FA Cup Final.

His greatest and most significant contribution, however was captaining the Gunners in their unbeaten and non-blotted campaign of 2003-2004, where they ruled the league with an iron fist, and a swagger unmatched.”RESPECT“.

The Community Shield was lost 2-1 to the¬†billionaires¬†of West London and then Arsenal’s last season at Highbury began with the visit of Newcastle, Henry scoring and celebrating with the ‘T’ sign, signifying the name of his newborn daughter.

A loss to Chelsea followed, with Drogba’s shin scoring the unlikeliest of goals, after bullying Phillipe Senderos throughout the game. Stop-start season continued, with a win against Fulham, where the legendary Pascal Cygan scored a brace and then a 2-1 reverse to Middlesbrough.

Pascal Zinedine Cygan..A legend of football..

Speaking of Pascal Cygan, he was the most comical footballer I have seen. He was so weirdly built, like a blob of baldness over a clumsy body. He didnt have pace, no guile, no agility. He had height, which he used to good effect, against strikers, to usually score into his own net!! Boy, he was a calamity, and the one to press the self-destruct button on a usual basis; and without a shadow of doubt, one of the worst players to put on the Arsenal shirt!! Here’s to Pascal ‘Zinedine’ Cygan!

More dissapointments followed, with a 2-1 loss at West Bromwich Albion. Anyways things looked bright in Europe, as Arsenal seemed dominant in their group, as they beat FC Thun of Switzerland and Ajax Amsterdam, Dennis Bergkamp scoring a sublime winner against FC Thun!!

Henry, Wright and Bergkamp

Thierry Henry raced past Ian Wright’s club record of 185 as he scored a brace in a chilly night in Prague.

That’s No 186!

Arsenal were all rounded over the mercurial Frenchman’s exploits that season, as a seemingly underperforming Arsenal lost 3 games on the bounce, against Bolton, Newcastle and Chelsea, confirming the demise of Arsenal’s title challenge that season.

On the bright side, Arsenal mocked all penalty taking norms, as Robert Pires stepped up to take a penalty against Manchester City. His run-in looked decisive. However, he stopped and then looked to pass it to Henry. However, Henry wasn’t ready, and City cleared the ball only for an¬†embarrassed Pires to give a wry smile to the cameras. It mattered little in the end, as Pires’ earlier spot-kick had landed the 3 points. Robin van Persie scored a stunning goal against Blackburn, beating 3 defenders in his wake to slot the ball past a hapless keeper. Was it the arrival of a new Dutch master?

The Pires-Henry penalty fiasco!!

Meanwhile, the Carling Cup seemed a kind of escape from the stuttering league campaign. Or was it??Drawn to Doncaster Rovers, Arsenal seemed on the verge of exit, as they trailed 2-1 after 120 minutes. Cometh the crunch, cometh the man, as Gilberto Silva snatched a late-late equalizer to take the game to penalties; where Manuel Almunia (yes, you heard right) proved to be the hero, as Arsenal narrowly avoided some really giant-killing!!

Gilberto saves the night!!

And Almunia saves the day!! 

Wigan was next up in the League Cup semi-finals. The Lactics had already proved to be somewhat of a force in the Premier League, as they had notched up some valiant performances in their first season in the top flight, starting the season with a 93rd minute loss to a Hernan Crespo goal in a game against the billionaires of West London. They beat Arsenal 1-0 at the JJB Stadium, a game best remembered for a lowly turnout and a power failure in the area.  Two weeks later, they completed the job at Highbury, even though Arsenal won 2-1, on away-goals rule.

I swear, this stupid power cut cost us the tie and the cup!! 

Middlesbough proved to be cannon fodder and were brushed by a rampant Arsenal 7-0 at Highbury, with Henry helping himself to a hat-trick. Well, then started a miserable run for Arsenal, as they lost to a physical Everton at the Goodison, got knocked out of the FA Cup to Bolton, a 2-3 humiliation at home to newly promoted West Ham, a late 1-1 draw again at Bolton, culminating in a heartbreaking 87th minute goal in a 1-0 loss at Anfield. The season looked to on a downward spiral, and Arsenal had to do something about it.

Arsenal were riddled with injuries, to the defensive team of Lauren, Sol Campbell, Ashley Cole and Gael Clichy. The only lynchpin at the back was Ivorian Kolo Toure, who with Phillipe Senderos, had formed a formidable centre-back pairing in Europe. Sebastien Larsson and Pascal Cygan were both roped in as emergency left-backs, but the injury crisis mounted and Mathieu Flamini, a right-footed defensive midfielder, was played at left-back for most of the remainder of the season. Emmanuel Eboue had been a revelation at right-back with his marauding runs into the opposition’s penalty area.

The greatest defence ever!!

Next in line was a trip to the Santiago Bernabeu, to play the ‘Los Galacticos’, Real Madrid’s expensively assembled galaxy of stars; comprising of stalwarts such as Zidane, Ronaldo, Carlos, Casillas and Guti. Notice I have discounted a certain David Beckham here.

The Spanish media were already discussing by how many goals Real Madrid would plunder the Gunners. Were they wrong or what?Arsenal started with a flurry if chances. Jose Antonio Reyes, nearly scoring an opener upon his return to his homeland. Fabregas and Hleb were brillilantly spraying passes and keeping the game well in control. And then, in the 47th minute, Henry picked the ball from near the half-line, and left quite a few defenders in his wake, before calmly slotting the ball past Iker Casillas. The scoreboard had read Real Madrid 0-1 Arsenal (Reserves, literally) The stars huffed and puffed, but at the end , it was Arsenal’s young guns, who came away from the Spanish capital, with a vital 1-0 lead to carry to the second leg at Highbury.

Galacticos?? Really??

Arsenal started the second leg, with the same Madrid-conquering side, while Real drafted in local boy cum hero Raul, into the starting line-up to multiply firepower. Real came close on several occasions, only to be denied by the German superman Jens Lehmann. Arsenal’s resolve was testified by Kolo Toure, who took a blow to his body as he blocked a Roberto Carlos freekick from close range. Towards the end, Real were so desperate they threw everybody forward, including the keeper, and almost resulted in a second goal for Arsenal, as Robert Pires, ¬†shot from half-way, only to be halted by a sprinting Roberto Carlos. All’s well that ends well, Arsenal secured passage to the next round, and now had to face Italian giants Juventus.

Galacticos up in flames!! 

The German Superman!!

Meanwhile, Arsenal slowly picked up on the domestic front, with wins over Liverpool(thanks to a brilliant backpass from Steven Gerrard), Charlton and a 5-0 drubbing of David O’Leary’s Aston Villa.

Juventus visited North London on 28th March, and Patrick Vieira got a standing ovation from the Arsenal faithful. It seemed for large amounts of the game, Juventus had taken the game very lightly, with press remarks from Lilian Thuram stating that they would destroy Arsenal. And they had every reason to think so. They had the world’s best goalkeeper; and the costliest one as well, Gianluigi Buffon, a towering defence comprising the likes of Fabio Cannavaro, Lilian Thuram and Gianluca Zambrotta, an experienced midfield of Vieira and Emerson; and a devastating strike force of Mutu, Trezeguet and Ibrahimovic. Unfazed in no sense, Arsenal dominated the game, with Fabregas playing like a seasoned professional, as he went about the task of going up against his mentor, Vieira. He scored with a sublime shot past Buffon in the 40th, truely announcing his arrival on the European stage, before Thierry Henry scored a brilliant winner in the 69th. The Old Ladies were down 2-0. So much for destroying us, Juve fell to pieces, and Camaronesi and Zebina were sent off, as the 9 men prevented further damage.

Vieira, who?

And that’s how it’s done, my Old Lady!!

The return leg was more of a formality for Arsenal, as they comfortable eked out a 0-0 draw, against Juve, who had drafted in the Czech playmaker Pavel Nedved. Arsenal’s dismal home campaign had continued with a 2-0 loss at Old Trafford and a disspointing draw away to Portsmouth. However, Dennis Bergkamp scored a delicios flick in a 3-1 win over West Brom, on Dennis Bergkamp day, a day dedicated to the Dutchman, whose class had lit up the English game, for a decade.

Dennis Bergkamp scores on Dennis Bergkamp day!! 

The Champions League semi-finals beckoned, and surprisingly the opposition was no Milan, Inter or Bayern, but a small provincial club from Spain, Villarreal. The club had seen a phenomenal rise in Spanish football, and were now in the semi’s after ousting Inter. ‘The Yellow Submarines’ had some fine players in their ranks, including Argentina captain Juan Pablo Sorin; former Manchester United striker Diego Forlan, who had transformed his career in Spain, and become the top scorer in the Spanish League;Juan Roman Riquelme, the Argentine midfield schemer, at the moment, considered the world’s best; Brazilian born Marcos Senna, who represented Spain, and was known for his long range goalscoring skills; and Juventus veteran Alessio Tacchinardi.

They are a good yellow lot, they are!!

The last game under floodlights, and the last European fixture at Highbury, and it couldn’t get bigger than a Champions League semi-final. Arsenal had fielded nearly the same side that had ousted the giants of Madrid and Turin. The game was mostly end-to-end stuff, with both teams creating opportunities. Chants of ¬†‘Squirrel¬†is a Gunner’ and ‘There’s only one squirrel’ to the tune of ‘There’s only one Dennis Bergkamp’ filled the historic stadium, as a little lost squirrel ambled on to the Highbury pitch, for its only Arsenal appearance. Kolo Toure scored the only goal in the game as he poked in a Hleb low cross for Arsenal to take a 1-0 advantage to the yellow-drenched part of Spain.

There’s only one squirrel and he’s a Gooner!!¬†

He’s a fine little Ivorian, isn’t he?

Arsenal were 4 points behind Tottenham, and uncomfortably in 5th place, as the two sides geared up for the last North London derby at Highbury. A win here, would put the Gunners within 1 point off a Champions League playoff place, and a game in hand, but a loss would all but end all of Arsenal’s hopes of a top 4 finish.On a bright afternoon, the Scum scored one of the most¬†unsportsmanlike¬†goal, ever witnessed at Highbury. Eboue collided with Gilberto, the former requiring treatment. Michael Carrick, who was scum then, and still is now, got hold of the ball, and passed it to Edgar Davids, who then provided a simple tap-in for Robbie Keane. Arsenal were furious at this point, but the game had to go in. Adebayor and Henry combined to set up Arsenal’s equaliser on a frustrating afternoon. Arsenal were still 4 points behind, and required Spurs to slip up against either Bolton or West Ham, to finish 4th.

Keane celebrating his scumdom!! 

And Henry saves the day yet again!!

Meanwhile, Arsenal knew that winning the Champions League would also seal a place for next years competition, and a name in the history books. The return league at Villarreal, would be no simple task, as the Spanish team had a formidable record at home. And they did dominate most of the game, and probably deserved the win. But there was no denying Arsenal that night. Or was there?Substitute, Gael Clichy, who came on after Flamini suffered a knock, was softly adjudged to have bought down Jose Mari. Riquelme stepped up to take the penalty. And all ¬†the time, I knew he would miss it. He was sweating profusely, the game having taken a mental as well as a physical toll on one of the most astute minds of the game. He was spitting constantly, trying to be calm. But his weak shot was brilliantly parried by the German giant Jens Lehmann. And that’s that. Arsenal became the first club from London to play a Champions League Final.

German Superman saves a shot from the Argentine master!!

Everyone wants a slice of Superman!!

The outpouring of emotions at the end, Arsene Wenger doing a fist celebration, with Pat Rice, still brings tears to my eyes. Thierry Henry was simply ecstatic, as the Arsenal players mobbed Jens Lehmann, who had kept 10 fucking clean sheets, and broke Milan’s previous measly record of 7, and couple that with a defence crippled with injuries, against opposition the likes of Real Madrid, Juventus and Villarreal. It was an amazing night.

Wenger’s greatest night!!

Next up??FC Barcelona. Ronaldinho. Samuel Eto’o. Xavi. Iniesta. Deco. Giuly. Henrik Larrsson. Referee. Linesman. etc. Anyways, that apart Arsenal had a job in hand in the league, and that was to qualify for the Champions League, by finishing 4th.

Arsenal secured 3-0 and 3-1 wins away to Sunderland and Manchester City respectively, and last day of the season, and last game at Highbury, they needed 3 points against Wigan Athletic, and hoped that Spurs lost to West Ham United. Mind games had already started, Arsene Wenger stating that West Ham Couldn’t win the final, if they didn’t beat Spurs, as it would cause a psychological effect, and all that stuuff that goes with it.

The day was perfect. The sun was shining brightly on the Highbury pitch. And, I had missed the first 30 minutes of the game, thanks to my stupid PUC tuitions. Anyways, it was Arsenal 1-2 Wigan. Man, why did Wigan have to come and spoil the party??Oh bother, onto the game stepped messrs Thierry Henry, as he equalised in the 35th minute, and Arsenal went in to half-time at 2-2. Meanwhile, in another part of London, some portly dude called Carl Fletcher had given West Ham the lead against cunty Spuds.Talk of injustice, Spurs had half their team down due to food poisoning , and had asked the Premier League to delay the game. However, this plea was rejected, becasue of West Ham’s upcoming FA Cup Final and the game went ahead as was scheduled.Surely, the chef was a Gooner, wasn’t he??

Meanwhile, the final 45 minutes of football at Highbury began, with Arsenal still needing 3 points. Henry duly obliged, as he rounded keeper Pollitt to calmly slot the goal to make it 3-2. Meanwhile, over at The Boleyn, Defoe had equalised for Spurs, and former Spud and cunt Teddy Sheringham had missed a penalty to put West Ham ahead.(Everyone knew he was going to miss it.) Anyways, in North London, it seemed like a fairytale ending was in the script as Andreas Johansson bought down fellow Swede Freddie Ljungberg, in the box and Arsenal had a¬†penalty. Fittingly, Arsenal’s greatest ever player, Thierry Henry, takes it and scores, and celebrates by kissing the penalty spot in front of the North End. And, its St. Totteringham’s day, as an Israeli of all people, Yossi Shai Benayoun, scores the winner for West Ham. Highbury erupts, well knowing that Arsenal have got the better of Spuds yet again.

Henry kisses the pitch after scoring the final goal at Highbury!!

Benayoun..gotta love that Israeli!!

Celebrating St. Totteringham’s Day!!¬†

10 days ahead, Paris was the centre of the world, as Arsenal and Barcelona faithful converged in on the showpiece event of European football, the final of the Champions League. This was Barcelona’s 4th time in the final, winning once against Sampdoria at Wembley in 91/92. And, this was the first time Arsenal had won the right to be in a Champions League final.I myself remember, waiting in anticipation for the final. I knew Barcelona were the favourites, as they had two world superstars, in the peak of their careers. But, Arsenal had the meanest defence in Europe, now fortified with the return of England duo Sol Campbell and Ashley Cole.It was ‘The¬†Irresistible¬†Force’ against ‘The Immovable Object’.

As the two teams, walked out side by side, with the trophy they were playing for in the centre, I remember praying for an Arsenal win. I knew every Gunner in the world,was too, in silent prayer. The game began, with Barcelona employing smart tactics and playing Ronaldinho in the centre and Eto’o on the left. Arsenal nearly scored with Thierry Henry clear, only for Valdes to pull off a diving save. Jens Lehmann, Arsenal’s hero through the European campaign turned from hero to villain in the 18th minute, as he bought down Samuel Eto’o. Barcelona’s 12th man, namely the referee Terje Hauge, rendered a massive blow by sending off the German, even though Arsenal insisted him to let off the German with a yellow and award a penalty to Barca.Off went Lehmann, though; and so did Robert Pires, who was sacrificed for Manuel Almunia.

Barcelona’s 12th man sends off the German Superman!!

Barca went on a rampage of attacks, capitalizing on their numbers advantage, but were kept in check by Arsenal’s defence. And in the 37th minute, the unlikeliest of goals from the unlikeliest of players, as Sol Campbell’s thumping header of a Henry free kick gave Arsenal the lead. I was delirious, jumping around the house at 1 AM!!

And the 10 men from North London take the lead against the 13 from Catalonia!! 

Arsenal seemed all set for victory as they controlled the game exceptionally, before Barca sent on Henrik Larsson, who first teed up Samuel Eto’o, who was clearly offside; but Barcelona’s 13th player, the linesman, said he wasn’t. And so, ended the over-900 minutes of football without conceding. And Larsson drew the final nail in the coffin, as he set up Juliano Belleti to score 5 minutes from time. I remember myself, nearly in tears at that point of time, as I knew there was no back. Barcelona knew it. Arsenal knew it. So, did the fans know it. And, so did Wenger. He bought on Reyes, for one final roll of the dice, but Arsenal were too deflated at that point. And so it ended Barcelona’s 13 2-1 Arsenal’s 10.

That heartbreaking moment

Would this be his last appearance as a Gunner??

As Barcelona lifted the trophy, it had me wondering me if Thierry Henry would be tempted by that and soon leave for Barca, as he had been courted wildly by them. In gazillions of interviews, and newspaper reports, ‘Henry to leave Arsenal for Barca’ was the constant. How I had wished, for Arsenal to enter their new home as European champions. Sigh, it was not to be.

That sinking feeling

This season, of so many highs and so many lows, with so many heart-stopping moments, fuelled my love for the Gunners. To be part of unparalleled joy at 3 points, and to be heartbroken at the end of an epic European campaign, was an amazing Arsenal experience.

Jai Arsenal ūüôā

Summary:

Premier League – 4th place

FA Cup – Fourth Round

Carling Cup – Semi Finals

Champions League – Runners Up

Top Scorer – Thierry Henry (33 goals in all competitions)

 
3 Comments

Posted by on November 22, 2011 in Season Reviews

 

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