It’s a new decade. So to get into the mood (like with our current managerial change) here are a few reminders of what transpired in the previous Gooner decade – highlights, lowlights, players, matches and of course, personal memories.
First: some of the bad times. Let’s get those out the way.
So first up a list of the worst players or signings to represent the club we love. I have narrowed them down to a final few:
The first up is probably one that many remember as the player who just seemed to be more of a winger then a left back, as I don’t recall him being able to defend as much as he used to proclaim. Recently he has made claims as to why he didn’t succeed in the red shirt. Purchased after a rather humiliating show that produced five new signings (of only two remained by the end) by that seasons deadline day summer transfer window. If you hadn’t guessed it’s Andre Santos, I only have the one good memory of him but I will save that one for later on.
Next up is a player from the Ivory Coast, whom we bought from the same club as our most expensive signing Nicholas Pepe. Yep – it’s the player who not many will forget for now it’s Gervinho. Originally brought to add more width in our attack but just couldn’t seem to handle life in the Premier League. I suppose that when you play in the Premier League much like learning to swim either you adapt and swim or you take too long and you sink. Yet another player that I don’t have a fond memory of.
Why is it that when we buy United or Chelsea players they just either don’t stay long enough to be appreciated or they are at the tail-end of their careers? I suppose only Ivan Gazidis and Arsène only know. No point in dabbling: Mikael Silvestre. Just didn’t understand it at the time and still don’t now. To be honest I could have put a few other players in this position but he’s probably the one I look back and say “..Why?!” the most.
The last one on this list is the loan of Kim Kaelstrom. Knowing that we had problems in central midfield, our marmite manager decided to sign him anyway knowing he had been carrying an injury because it would’ve been too late at this point to find anyone one else in the January transfer window. He had less playing time then anyone else by the end of the season.
We’ve also had some horrific results and shocks which I will skim over now for you all to forget.
The Bayern Munich games (you know the ones), the 8-2 loss to United at Old Trafford, various losses to Liverpool, the FA cup loss to Forest and the league cup quarter final penalty shootout lose to Bradford City. You can also add the mess up at Newcastle and anytime we lost to our rivals in white to the list as well.
And now it’s time to move on to a more positive note, five top players we signed. For this, I have not included players from this past summer. There are some players I have left out for various reasons like Alexis and Giroud.
Our first contender is our smiling magician now at Villarreal, Santi Cazorla: just hearing his name brings a smile to my face and a number of magical memories that, if I could, I’d go back and visit again. The free kick in the Watford FA Cup Final is just one of them. It is quite stunning when you look back and realise that it really was like trying to get the ball off him in a telephone box when looking back in some games.
Another Spainiard on the list is Nacho Monreal, who always gave one hundred percent when wearing the shirt. Although we never got to give him a good send off he will fondly be remembered for his goal at United in the FA Cup and his defensive displays – even when playing as a central defender – when called upon.
Per Mertesacker has to be mentioned here, not only because of his final game as a Gunner in the Chelsea FA Cup Final (where we had been pretty much written off after Koscielney was sent off in the previous game.) He may have been slow – but the BFG was wisely respected by the fans.
A few honourable mentions include Lukas Podolski, Mikel Arteta and Carl Jenkinson (he got to live a fan’s dream).
We have had some cracking games and some amazing goals so here’s five of each.
Arsenal v Barcelona 2-1
When the CL draw was made this was one of the games to watch. A peak Barcelona team that had many talented superstars such as Andres Iniesta, Xavi, David Villa and Lionel Messi just to name a few – and an Arsenal team that held the likes of Van Persie, Walcott, Nasri and Arshavin. It was a game of end-to-end stuff from start to finish. The first goal came from David Villa in the only goal of the first half but it could’ve easily been a high scoring game with Messi unable to score when through on goal countless times… going wide or just missing the target. Meanwhile in the second half it was pretty much fireworks from the Arsenal, with a typical Van Persie finish of scoring from impossible positions, drawing us level within the first ten minutes and late into the final fifteen minutes of the second half a typical Arsenal counter attack with Nasri putting in a low cross for Arshavin to tap away.
It was a beautiful night and one to remember: the night that Barcelona were left shocked by the underdog.
Chelsea V Arsenal 3-5
To set the scene: Stamford Bridge, previously Arsenal teams hadn’t managed to get results against the West Londoners in their own backyard. This game was pretty much a way that showed how bad and good both teams were when defending and attacking. From an Arsenal perspective it was pretty much like that one game of football manager (or any football game) where anything goes.
The fact that Andre Santos got on the scoresheet just made it even more unbelievable. The game will probably be more memorable for a hat-trick from Theo Walcott! Yes Theo did score a hat-trick against a top four rival (come to think about it, it usually was against Chelsea). One of my favourite moments of this game was in fact one of Theo’s goals. He picked up the ball and ran through on goal but before that John Terry slips to allow him to get into the space. It was funny game in the end and one that probably could sum up our decade in the Premier League.
Manchester United v Arsenal 1-2
Whenever we end up playing Manchester United in a cup competition my thoughts can range from “yes this is going to be an easy game” to “anybody but them”.
This time around it was the negative. We hadn’t won there for a long time. To put it this way I don’t think many people expected to come away with the win but there’s something with Arsenal and its love affair with the FA Cup that made it magical that night. Arsenal went one-nil up with an unlikely source: Nacho Monreal, United equalised before the first half was finished. In the second half a stalemate looked very much the outcome. Step up Mancunian born and bred Danny Welbeck, signed for fifteen million at the start of the season and it was worth every penny to see him running onto a loose ball tapping it past the oncoming so called ‘greatest goalkeeper of the decade’ De Gea and smashing the ball into a empty net. Not only did it not end there he celebrated like there was no tomorrow.
That was probably the moment when I knew we would be going for the FA cup at full throttle. If i’m honest I would say that this was the moment that was decisive in the challenge for the FA cup that season.
Arsenal v Leicester 2-1
The season where pretty much anything could happen, happened. This game was a real test for both teams: would our beloved reds be able to mount a title challenge? Could the opposition carry on their run? Or was it just a feeling that they didn’t want to become relegation battlers again? This game was full of attacking football and it brought out the best in both teams. Leicester weren’t taking any prisoners and took the game to Arsenal. With additional time running out and the game tied one apiece, the Gunners had a last minute push and had gained a free kick near the opposition box.
Step up again Danny Welbeck who cushioned in a neat header to win the game and set the whole of the Emirates Stadium rocking.
Flamini versus them lot down the road
I don’t know what it was but for some reason this decade decided that Arsenal would have to take on rivals in cup competitions whenever possible and at the earliest point possible.
But now to talk about the goal of this game. The last person you would have expected it from. Flamini scored a brace; his first was a simple tap-in, which was then levelled later on in the game. Into the second half and this was when the magic happened: after a failed clearance from the spuds defence – which flew skyward – Flamini had one thought in mind… “Thanks for the assist, I’m going to hit this” and with that, he pummeled a sweet volley into the net.
It was so good that the next day it birthed an internet meme.
Walcott V newcastle
Theo strikes again. This time he was running into the penalty area only to be tripped. Realising the ref hadn’t blown for the foul, Theo carried on, and chipped an unsuspecting Tim Krul in the Newcastle goal. It was brilliant quick thinking.
Lacazette V Burnley
I was at this game at the Emirates this season and it was a brilliant piece of play from Lacazette, he had done it before in a previous game but to be able to be back to goal and be falling and still manage to twist and shoot and not only score but put the ball inbetween the goalkeeper’s legs was just a brilliant sight to see.
It was also brilliant to see fans shouting for a penalty only for Lacazette to score five seconds later.
Both Rosicky and Wilshere
I’ve put these goals together because although they were against different opposition, they were both brilliant and genius moments that could pretty much echo each other. They both combined player passing and ingenious flicks and one-twos and a great finish to boot. Wengerball at its best.
Oliver Giroud v Crystal Palace
‘The scorpion’ was just brilliant to watch and ended up with Oliver getting the Puskas award by the end of the year. A month earlier Henrik Mkhitaryan, (who would later play for the Gunners) scored a backheel flick goal for Manchester United – only for it to be later talked about as it shouldn’t have been given for offside.
Oliver’s goal was a stroke of genius as the cross had come from behind him, and at full pace he had used his heel to make contact with the ball and lob the Palace keeper in the process.
A few honourable mentions: Aubamenyang v Leicester for a brilliant team goal, Mesut’s solo goal v Ludogorets, Ramsey’s long ranger v Man United and Arteta’s long ranger v Man City.
I’m sure many fans will have other favourites – so please leave them in the comments below.