Arsenal's Biggest Disappointments of the 2013/14 Premier League Season
On the whole, Arsenal had a very encouraging campaign. Though it's not quite over yet, we can still reflect on the dozens of exciting matches the Gunners played, and mostly won, this season.
There were certainly a great many highlights, but no season is without its fair share of disappointing moments. Let's take a look back at the worst times of the season that is almost past (though the title says "Premier League," I'll include every competition in this list).
The First Game of the Season
It looked like Arsenal were having a dream start to their season. Despite being reamed by everyone in the press for not spending a single penny during the summer transfer window, the Gunners opened the scoring at home against Aston Villa through Olivier Giroud after only six minutes.
Then Arsenal collapsed, as they so often have in recent years.
Christian Benteke struck home a penalty rebound and another penalty as Arsene Wenger's men melted down, before conceding a final hammer blow on the counterattack in the 85th minute. With no hope of future spending, this was arguably Arsenal's lowest point of the entire season.
Manchester City 6-3 Arsenal
This was just the first of what turned out to be a few hammerings that Arsenal took this season.
At least the Gunners looked like they had a chance of taking something from this game at some point. But in a contest widely viewed as the first true test of the emergent Arsenal's title credentials, they were summarily hammered by the eventual Premier League champions.
City's star-studded attack, which would go on to score over 100 goals on the season, was absolutely rampant, and a lauded Arsenal defense that had been tightly sealed hitherto was blown open in front of a rapturous crowd at the Etihad Stadium.
Aaron Ramsey's Injury
Arsenal's title dreams arguably died on Boxing Day.
Every time Aaron Ramsey took a knock during the first half of the season, fans held their breath. The Welshman was running so rampant, and he had become so crucial to the way Arsenal played, that any injury to him would be catastrophic to the team.
So, when Ramsey hobbled off the pitch at Upton Park with an apparent knock, supporters feared the worst. They were justified: Ramsey missed the next several months through an injury that just never seemed to heal.
And the Gunners never seemed to recover from the lack of pace and energy that he injected into the midfield and attack. The team looks so much more lively and dynamic with him back in the side.
Liverpool 5-1 Arsenal
Two seeming anomalies don't make a trend, but Arsenal fans rightly questioned why they were so summarily thrashed by multiple title contenders twice in one season.
Here was another big test for Arsenal's title hopes: a match at Anfield against a surging Liverpool side but one that the Gunners had already put to the sword 2-0 earlier in the season.
They failed spectacularly. The game was over before 20 minutes were up, as Liverpool ran absolutely rampant and did not let up for the entire match. It was a sucker punch from which Arsenal struggled to recover.
Stoke City 1-0 Arsenal
Arsenal's title chase was already sputtering a bit, but Stoke City rammed a giant nail into the Gunners' coffin with a shocking 1-0 victory at the Britannia Stadium.
Arsene Wenger's men just couldn't seem to break the curse that seems to hang over their heads whenever they travel to Stoke. There is already animosity between fans of the two clubs, which play diametrically opposite styles of football, and it was that much more painful for Gunners fans to see the supposedly less sophisticated style win on the day.
Arsenal lacked all imagination and creativity. This defeat was, in a way, worse than the numerous other awful ones they suffered this season because the quality of the opposition was worse. No one saw it coming.
Thomas Muller's Goal at the Emirates
Had Arsenal only lost 1-0 to Bayern Munich at home, conceding a single away goal to a side that seemed utterly unstoppable, the Gunners would have had a chance at pulling off something remarkable in Munich.
But they tried to do too much. After aggressively trying to push the ball up the pitch, Bayern snagged it back and in a flash put the ball onto Thomas Mueller's head, which sent the ball flying past Lukasz Fabianski.
Arsenal looked utterly defeated after that; so disappointed that they lost that bit of belief that fuels improbable comebacks. They were basically already out of the Champions League.
Chelsea 6-0 Arsenal
When Arsenal traveled to Stamford Bridge to take on Chelsea in Arsene Wenger's 1000th game, they still had a chance at taking the title. They simply needed to take three points.
But this match was over inside of 20 minutes. Arsenal were already down when Andre Marriner mistakenly sent off Kieran Gibbs instead of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain—a shocking case of mistaken identity for which Marriner will always be the butt of jokes.
Arsenal merely rolled over thereafter and succumbed to their worst beating of the season. Unlike the other smack-downs on this list, the Gunners could not even manage a single consolation goal. The club's social media feeds went completely dark after the match, and it took the team a couple weeks to recover.
Still, Chelsea only finished with three more points than Arsenal at the end of the season.