At the start of the season, we Arsenal fans, would have never thought what lay ahead. We have had a season of ups and downs until lately, we have seen our chins go up in pride. Yes, Arsenal sit at the 3rd spot now from when we were once at a relegation threatened 17th even though many games hadn’t been played. Many fans criticised Wenger, a manager who has been with the club for 15 years and has taken Arsenal to the Champions League every time. Though their grievances are justified, one forgets that, in the end “Arsene knows”. How this season has unfolded in front of us right from transfers to horrific losses to remarkable wins has only had us watching it all in surprise.
Of the many times that it did, these are the parts when our heart skipped a beat:
When Fabregas and Nasri left, all we fans pretended we were alright without them. We said to ourselves “We don’t need them”. Most of us took to taking cheap shots at “Moneyclinching” Nasri and some at “Loyal?” Fabregas. Though the latter has done a lot for us and has been wanting to return to his boyhood club, we excused him, but the former leaving for Manchester City, left a trail of hatred. We got to see the two different sides to the players, with Fabregas saying that Le Professor is still like a father to him and he still visits the Emirates and tweets about how much he loves the club. On the other hand, Samir chose to criticise the team saying they would’nt win trophies and that’s why he left. Especially, after the loss to Arsenal a few days back, provoked by Pierce Morgan, he let out all he felt about the club which just helped pile the odds of trying to like him.
While the fans were hoping for big names like Mario Gotze or Eden Hazard to make the buzz, there were relatively lesser known signings. No fan wants to google a player’s name they’ve bought as that automatically means he’s not a famous player to boast to others about. Per Mertersacker, Andre Santos and Yossi Benayoun on loan, did’nt feel like really good deals though we tried to pacify ourselves that they were. The last minute signing of Mikel Arteta on transfer deadline day sure gave a boost. But how all of these players have gelled with the club is truly remarkable. Benayoun, after failing to be used to his potential in Chelsea, hit form with the North London club. Whether his move will me made permanent is still a question in all our minds,the answer to which will be “yes”, hopefully. Mikel Arteta on the other side has provided utmost stability to the team, which has made us win maximum games with him, while we stutter a little when he’s absent from the squad.
3) Wilshere sidelined
Having one of your best midfielders injured can never do you any good. Currently, one of the best in the world, the youngster has sat out all season with a pre-season injury and has watched the games from the sidelines, feeling restless. His tweets about how much he wishes to play and his amount of love he holds for the club, make us miss him even more. The game against Barcelona last season, where he got the better of the best midfield duo in the world, Xavi and Iniesta, raised the bar of expectations. Next season, with him back on the field, we definitely have a chance to go all the way.
4)The unsung heroes
As a whole, we’ve seen every individual perform at such levels that we’ve just been watching in awe. Be it Alex Song’s sweet chips to Van Persie, consistent goals by the Dutchman, Rosicky’s amazing defence tearing runs, Koscielny’s rock solid defending, Sagna’s perfect crosses or Arteta’s long range efforts we’ve been amazed every time those eleven players have walked out onto the pitch. The Cameroon international, has been superb with his amazing ability to attack and defend at the same time. The Czech star, on the other hand, has had the past few seasons nursing injuries which had ruled him out of our frame of thinking. But at the age of 31, the stamina and determination he has, makes him one of the best attacking midfielders in the league. Van Persie, though not an underrated player, has done much more than what was expected of him. Scoring important goals as well as perfect ones, have been his trademark all along. A few days back winning the PFA as well as fan’s award, shows his style of play is loved by his compatriots as well as his supporters.
5) The comebacks
This would undoubtedly be the most unforgettable part of the season. Losing to United with the jeers and jokes of 8-2 was one of the most difficult times as an Arsenal fan. What troubled more was that our season wasn’t underway yet and made us think of what lay in store. Was it going to be a horrible season ahead? We told ourselves that it would be alright, we were “The Arsenal” after all, but deep inside we feared the worst. Losses against teams like Blackburn Rovers weren’t helping as well.
Then came 29th October, Arsenal vs Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. It would go do down in history as one of the most entertaining games played with Arsenal going full throttle throughout to overpower the Blues 5-3. It was a moment to cherish as the fans in the crowd cried their hearts out, with joy written all over their face. Blackburn’s routing of 7-1 set the tone for the AC Milan game, a team we’d drawn, in fact the toughest we could have drawn. Arsenal have always had the luck of picking the most difficult opponent in the Round of 16 draw. The 4-0 loss at the San Siro “farm” was a shocker as going through it was next to impossible. While we fans waited to see what happens in the return leg at the Emirates, we had tough fixtures in between. We bowed out of the FA cup and then hosted our biggest rivals Tottenham. As it is ten points behind them, it was a must win game but going two goals down, we feared a 13 point difference. But we staged a remarkable comeback scoring five goals,taking the game home comfortably and getting the all important bragging rights. We now felt the AC Milan tie wasn’t over yet. After beating Liverpool at Anfield, we were pumped up for the game against the Italian side. That was the day we got to see a very different highly-attacking Arsenal game. We were the better team on the day, but were eliminated, even though we won 3-0, with our heads held high.
And now we look solid enough to finish at 3rd place with Tottenham and Newcastle hot on our trails, but keeping a slender distance. The qualification problem that could occur now. If Chelsea wins the Champions league, they automatically qualify for next season’s edition and then, the team that ends 4th goes to the Europa league. So we need to make sure we don’t slip up at the last step. Just West Brom and Norwich lie in our path and wins there, would set the stage for a fresh season with a charged up quest for silverware.
Never doubt our capabilities, there’s a reason we’re known as one of the best in the world.
Keep the faith.