This is the last season, season 8 of no trophies.
I think last season was a turn around for us, overall it was another disappointing campaign. Scraping into the top 4 with the infamous 1-1 draw at St James Park, (yes I know it was 1-0 to us) pipping our rivals to the 4th spot again.
I say turnaround as there was a clear and memorable game which seemed to change things for us, Munich away. Wenger dropped our club captain and goalkeeper for possibly the hardest game of the season against possibly the best club in Europe and we won, and not only won but nearly got through after the disappointment in the first leg. We played well and won well, left it a bit late to get a third but we came away with a big win which instilled much confidence into the team and we overcame another gap between us and Spurs to finish 4th.
In other turn-arounds our long term serving assistant manager and true legend of the club in player and coaching roles, Pat Rice, retired meaning Steve Bould took over as Wenger’s assistant.
Also Peter Hill-Wood moved away from the Chairman position he had held for many years due to ill health and Sir Chips Keswick took over.
In player movement we lost another captain who had lost passion for the cause and wanted to move on to more money, sorry I meant to win things. RVP went to Man United and followed the dreams of the little boy screaming inside of him, the same little boy who was once pictured sitting in his bedroom with Arsenal possessions surrounding him. Fuck him, let him go, we are a better team without him, well I think so anyway.
Alex Song followed him out of the door, pretty swiftly actually after he decided to pick a fight with Steve Bould. Not the wisest decision he’s ever had and again fuck him, glad he’s gone, we’re better off without him.
Almunia was released and join Watford. 13 youth players left the club as well.
We brought in 4 experienced players who would be able to offer something to the team rather than youngsters we had been focussing on previously. Giroud from Montpellier, Santi Cazorla became our biggest signing from Malaga and fan favourite Lukas Podolski joined from Koln. Monreal joined in January after a Kieran Gibbs injury forced us to bring forward the deal which was rumoured to have already been agreed.
Our first 3 games of the season we didn’t concede a goal and the press started hyping up the impact Bouldy had on the team. It didn’t last and the backlash came at Man City when our zonal system was blamed for Lescotts goal. We should have beaten City that day with Gervinho being clean through late on I remember, he missed and we drew.
We then lost to Chelsea, Norwich and United and by 10 games we were 7th. A stand out result at home to Spurs was the highlight of the next couple of months really. We won 5-2 AGAIN. Adebayor was sent off within 20 minutes and being honest if he had stayed on we would have been in trouble. They started much better than us and went 1-0 up. The red card came and we finished the half 3-1 ahead.
Walcott scored a fantastic hat-trick against Newcastle in a 7-3 win in the Xmas fixtures and in January we lost twice against City and Chelsea within 2 weeks, it was another season we had failed to beat any of the other teams in the top 4. We finished strongly after the Bayern result and got enough momentum in the season to finish where we needed to.
We actually only finished 2 points off 3rd and 5 off 2nd place, it makes you look back at silly results where we could have come away with 3 points or even a point and we would have been in with a chance of challenging. Games like away to Norwich, home to Swansea where we lost, or silly draws like the first day at home to Sunderland, away to Stoke, home to Fulham or away at Villa. Its about consistency again and we need to have that to be in with any chance.
I’ve written about Europe and especially the Bayern game above, our group stage was disappointing, we made hard work of an average group and should have finished top. Looking back I’m glad we had the game in Munich though as it transformed us.
Domestic cups were just as disappointing and forgettable. Being put out to Bradford and Blackburn was beyond disastrous. It wasn’t acceptable.
The Blackburn game came 3 days before the Munich game, 1st leg at home. I cant remember the line ups but I think we went with a weaker team in that game trying to prepare for Munich and ultimately shit out at both games.
So that’s the short reviews of the 8 barren seasons finished.
In my own opinion it has been a big period of transition for the club. We have a new stadium which came with a lot of cost. We have had to manage our new debt without affecting anything the football club does which has been difficult, a lot of fans would say we have failed on that front, I disagree. We have broken even in the finance dept for several seasons using player sales and property sales to bump up our income.
We have sold a lot of our best players and tried to go down the youth recruitment path which failed. We have been shopping in a level below the top clubs meaning players who have not been good enough for the club have come in, some have worked out, some haven’t.
We reached a Champions League Final, challenged for the league twice before falling away, reached 2 Carling Cup Finals losing both and a FA Cup Semi Final, we have finished in the top 4 each season since leaving Highbury, another Carling Cup semi appearance ended against Spurs and a semi final in the Champions League against United.
Yes we haven’t won anything for 8 seasons but it annoys me to the core when people say that without knowing exactly what we have done in those 8 years. Yes we should be aiming higher and those semi finals need to turn into finals, and the losses in the final need to turn into wins, but consider what we have done as a club. We have left a smaller stadium and built our own 60,000 stadium in the middle of London, paying for it ourselves! To get the money to pay for it we had to negotiate commercial deals to help us in the primary costs of it which means money has been tight. We are getting to the end of that now with the Puma deal coming in, a new Emirates deal has been penned which could have been for more I think, plus there is a new Premier League deal which has rocketed our income up. We have one of the highest match day incomes in Europe and the mortgage payments have settled and our debt is now manageable. There is now no excuse and it shows the club has changed if you look at our summer. We were in no danger of losing our top players, and we brought in a proven world class player for a club record value. We now seem to be competing and if you take this season as our first as a club with money I think you will see something happen soon. I’m not saying forget the 8 seasons but class them as the transition, our club has gone for more seasons in its history without winning anything, 8 is a drop in the ocean really.
Also I ask you to remember the trouble other clubs are having to build a new ground, Spurs are failing miserably and asking the council to pay more and more for them, Liverpool have been trying to do it for years and that’s in Liverpool where you can buy a street of terraced houses for £8.67! West Ham have had to move into an Olympic ground which isn’t suited to football thus how desperate these clubs are for a new bigger stadium, we done it ourselves, with our own money, with all your ST money and not some sugar daddy coming in to bank roll us. Our club needs us as fans whereas Chelsea and City only need one fan. This isn’t to say I’m happy with 3% rise but that’s a different matter for a different blog.
Support the players, support the club, this is our Arsenal.
Lets hope I’m not doing one of these reviews for this season!
Cheers for reading