3 seasons without a trophy and last season we had a go at fighting for the league before falling away towards April. It all went wrong after Eduardo broke his leg at Birmingham and we couldn’t continue the good run we had been on.
Semi final of the Carling Cup and quarter finals of the Champions League showed we were moving forward and we wanted a good run at the league this time around.
Transfer wise saw Flamini walk out for nothing and join Milan. This was an incredibly disappointing loss and especially over a contract. We will never know the full story but I think the club offered the deal to late, by that time he had made his decision and left, we should have gone all out to try and keep him and offer him a deal to ensure he stayed. Gilberto left for Greece, Hleb went to Spain and Lehmann went back to Germany to join Stuttgart. We signed Aaron Ramsey, a young talent from Cardiff, Samir Nasri came in from Marseille for £12million, one of the strangest signings was Silvestre from United. As fans I think the feeling was if he isn’t good enough for Man United, why would we want him when we want to battle for the title! This was also the summer Amaury Bischoff joined us, another weird transfer! Arshavin came in during the January window for a club record fee and after much rumour and speculation.
In doing these write ups I have found out how bad my memory is. I knew it was bad but there are whole chunks of seasons and games that I just do not remember, even though I was at them! This season is one of those, I don’t remember hardly anything about it but looking back through our results and league standings I can see that it was once again disappointing. We had lost 5 times before November had finished which meant we never had a chance for the league. We were still losing to the teams we should really have been winning against, Fulham, Hull, Stoke, Villa and Man City. Funnily enough this was the season that Man City were taken over and became one of the richest clubs in the world, they bought Robinho on the last day of the season for a British record fee.
In comparison to our losses Liverpool, who challenged United for the title, only lost twice all season, and United themselves only lost 4 games. Liverpool lost the league with far to many draws when they needed wins.
Despite us losing those disappointing games we did beat Chelsea away and United at home. I was at the Chelsea game, RVP scored twice but I just do not recall it at all. Funny how as a fan you can block out seasons you don’t wish to remember!
During January and February we went on a run of 4 games where the game finished 0-0 in every one of them, its unusual for us to not score in more than one game but to draw 0-0 in 4 games all in a row, we were out of sorts and seemed to be going backwards. We didn’t lose again in the league until May when Chelsea beat us 4-1 at home, but after those early losses and draws throughout the season it meant we were only ever going to finish 4th, we ended up 9 points in front of Everton who were 5th and 11 points off Chelsea in 3rd.
Our draw at Old Trafford in the penultimate game gave them the league and we finished the season winning 4-1 at home to Stoke.
After scoring at Stamford Bridge
My personal opinions on these bad seasons in the league, and especially this one, was that we were way off the pace and not getting any closer to challenging. I put that down to us moving to the new ground and I know that a lot of people are not going to agree with me on this. I will always believe that money has been tight for a good few seasons, we have had to be careful in what we spend and have had to sell players to break even financially as a club. Wenger attempted to get through this period by investing in youth and going down a different route to try and build his team, it was his “experiment” as I’ve heard it called before. We all now know, and Wenger himself knows, that this didn’t work. Most of those youth players have now moved on or been moved out of the club, but I don’t think we had the money to invest in the team and make the squad depth and quality better during these seasons. We were battling through a tough period and constantly qualifying for the Champions League, sometimes reaching a final and that is all we could achieve. I’m not accepting this and sitting here blindly saying that I was happy with that, far from it in fact, but looking at the bigger picture I understood what we were doing.
Chelsea and Man City have only 1 fan who is important to their clubs, and that’s their owners. The other fans of those clubs mean nothing as those 2 people hold all the money and future for them, our club is different. We as fans are all important to Arsenal, they need our season ticket money and shirt money etc. We helped our club to get through that period, we supported them and didn’t stop going. I’m glad to support this club and proud of sticking with it through these seasons.
We had another good Champions League again but still not going the whole way to reach the final. We got to the Semi Finals where we came up against Man United who we didn’t stand a chance against. We lost 1-0 away and 3-1 at home, United went on to play Barca in the final losing 2-0.
We finished 2nd in our group playing Kiev, Porto and Fenerbache. I went to Fenerbache away and it was a great trip. I think the club tried to scare the fans in to not going but we had a great time, Efes and kebabs along with a 5-2 win! What could be better. We played Roma and Villareal in the next 2 rounds beating Roma on penalties out in Italy, another good trip!
The FA Cup saw us reach Wembley, but only for the Semi Finals. We got beat by Chelsea 2-1 after going ahead 1-0, the same as the Carling Cup Final 2007. Cardiff away in the early rounds was the pick of the games, but we went down there to see a drab 0-0 draw. The trip was more exciting than the game, lets leave it at that!
The quarter finals was as far as we went in the Carling Cup when Burnley put us out, again this competition saw us bringing the youth through and trying to blood some youngsters as we had always done and would continue to do.
In summary it was the 4th season where we had not won anything and although I cant remember, I can imagine the fans who were already unhappy, had become almost inconsolable. The Wenger out thing had started im sure although again cannot remember, and things were not looking like improving. More high profile sales were to come in the next few seasons with no one of real note coming in to make things even worse.
Cheers for reading
Read the previous part 3 here
2008-09 season – worst home and away kit in the club’s history!
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