Yet should their season be considered failure or success? They reached unthinkable highs and downgrading lows throughout the season. In this article, we will consider everything that has happened to this year's squad from the 2011 summer transfer window to now.
To begin with, let's look at the 2011 summer transfer window.
Departures of Fabregas and Nasri
Fabregas: A name engraved in all Gooners' hearts for the effort he put into the game and the joy he brought to North London. After hinting a move to his hometown club Barcelona for several years, he finally left on a good note with everyone from the organization.
Nasri: A name despised in most Gooners' heads. The French international did not put in the effort after he revealed he would be leaving. He left for the money, one of the deadly sins in all of club football. Good riddance.
Last Minute Buying Spree
Arsene Wenger did something last year that is completely against his transfer window philosophy. He made a total of nine signings, including five of them in the last 48 hours. They include:
- Carl Jenkinson
- Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
- Joel Campbell
- Chu Young Park
- Andre Santos
- Per Mertesacker
- Yossi Benayoun
- Mikel Arteta
Arteta and Gervinho put in really good efforts in this year's campaign. Mertesacker had many lackluster performances that leave many wondering if he was worth the £8 million pound transfer fee. Oxlade-Chamberlain is one of Wenger's brightest prospects. Benayoun failed to make a significant impact on the course of the season until the very end, where he had a sort of last minute push. Many of the other signings, Jenkinson, Park and Santos, were haphazardly bought, and were a waste of money.
Summer Transfer Window Failure
Arsenal lost two arguably world class players during the summer transfer window. They made many half thought out signings that were simply a waste of money. Hopefully this year Wenger will think twice before he goes on a last minute signing spree.
After the summer transfer window, the season got off to a terrible start. They were sinking to the bottom of the table, losing matches that were winnable on paper. They were dropping points and had their worst start in 58 years.
Then it happened.
On August 28, 2011, Arsenal faced Manchester United at Old Trafford. It was a normal day and supposedly a great game at hand. The opening whistle sounded, and the game began. Then begun the 90 worst minutes of any Gooner's life. The ball struck the back of Arsenal's goal eight times before the final whistle sounded. The catastrophic defeat to a team that was considered an equal.
Talk of relegation and the sacking of Arsene Wenger had begun. Would this be the year that Arsenal stepped down from the Premier League? While none of this happened, it was still a particularly scary period in Arsenal's recent history.
For several months, they dealt with spotty defending from Vermaelen and Ramsey not playing up to par. The Arsenal many had known was disappearing.
It wasn't until November that Arsenal picked up the pieces. Then a miracle happened. They started winning once more. The defense picked up, and RVP became a scoring machine. They notched strong victories against Chelsea and Tottenham. Many were considering a bid for the EPL title or the FA cup. Maybe they could have a successful season after all.
Life was nice at the Emirates. The spirits were high; they were winning matches. They had made it past the group stage of the Champions League without too many problems. Their knockout stage competition were Italian giants AC Milan.
Thus began another sad chapter in Arsenal's 11-12 season. They suffered an embarrassing 4-0 loss to AC Milan.
While they didn't make it to the next stage, they put their heart into the second leg, winning it 3-0, all goals in the first half. Their Champions League dreams were over for this season, but there were still hope for them in the EPL.
They failed to win the FA Cup and had many poor performances to close out the season. They finished in the third position.
After writing a quick recap to their season, I still must answer the question: can this really be considered success?
My answer: yes and no.
Yet much of it is no. They had so many heart-wrenching performances that were simply under par. They do not have an outstandingly strong team going into next year's season. They are trophy-less once more (unless you count RVP's PFA Player of the Year award), and the defense looked incredibly spotty in their last match against West Brom.
The yes part of the answer is that they have another opportunity. They finished in third, guaranteeing a spot in the Champions League. They have the opportunity to build a strong roster and supporting cast. They have so many opportunities to do well next season. Yet if they fail to optimize on those opportunities, then no, they have not had a successful season.