The 2010/11 campaign will be a campaign that Arsene Wenger, his players and the Arsenal faithful will never forget. He continued his low spending principle and honed young talent despite several taunts from the media, players and probably other football managers.
Arsenal ended the previous campaign in third place behind Man Utd and eventual winners Chelsea. Like the four previous seasons, Arsenal ended the 2009/10 season without winning silverware of any sort.
Man City taught the youngsters a lesson in the Carling Cup, as Rory Delap and his fellow goons of Stoke City drove in the nails of Arsenal’s FA Cup coffin. Lionel Messi turned on the style with a 5-star performance in the Champions League quarterfinals, while Arsenal’s late league surge was halted thanks to disappointing defeats to Tottenham, Blackburn and Wigan in the business end of the season.
As expected, some players found new employers because the club chose not to renew their contracts. Senderos didn't do well enough for AC Milan to retain his services, so he was snapped up by Fulham for free.
Silvestre was disappointing in his two-year stint with the club but Werder Bremen still felt that he was good enough to make their squad. Maybe they wanted his "experience" or something of that nature. Gallas was given a chance to stay with the club offering him a new contract but he waved his goodbyes, packed his backpack and went to the white half of North London.
Their exit meant that Arsenal was in dire need of manpower at the back, so Wenger responded by signing a relatively unknown French center back from FC Lorient, called Laurent Koscielny. He also signed an "experienced" French nomad called Sebastien Squillaci. It’s really awkward to know that players like Squillaci and Silvestre can pat themselves on their backs and say that they are experienced. Players like them give that word a new meaning. Wenger also pulled up a quick bargain by snatching Marouane Chamakh for nothing from Girondin Bordeaux.
The Premier League’s new rule of registering only 25 players with at least eight being homegrown, probably had an effect on Wenger’s spending and pretty much every other club in the league except traditional British clubs like Manchester United and others in their mold. It was evident in Man City as Roque Santa Cruz, Craig Bellamy and a host of others couldn’t make the provisional 25-man list. The Arsenal of the 2010/11 season isn’t a traditional British team of any sort but it contains players who satisfy the Premier League’s rule.
Arsenal started the new season with a friendly match against their affiliates Barnet which ended in a 4-0 thrashing of the lower league outfit. Wenger and his boys visited Austria to continue their preseason action against Sturm Graz and SC Neusiedl 1919, leaving both opponents with seven goals to share.
The Gunners went back home to host the Emirates Cup. Chamakh’s goal was enough to seal a draw against the seven-time European Champions AC Milan while Vela, Sagna and Nasri did enough to win the trophy for Arsenal when they hosted Celtic.
The preseason friendly match in Poland that followed the Emirates Cup was one of the most entertaining you’ll ever watch because 11 goals were scored in the game. Arsenal had six while Legia Warsaw had the rest. That game also exposed Lukasz Fabianski thereby adding more uncertainty to Arsenal’s goalkeeping situation.
Arsenal kicked off their Premier League campaign in August with a 1-1 draw against Liverpool—thanks to some catastrophic goalkeeping by Reina. The Gunners taught Blackpool a very harsh Premier League lesson by gazumping them with six unreplied goals but the game will always be remembered by the goal scoring exploits of Theo Walcott. Wenger’s men ended the month with a hard fought 2-1 victory against Blackburn in Ewood Park.
August Match of the Month
Arsenal 6 Blackpool 0 (Walcott (3), Arshavin, Diaby, Chamakh): Arsenal showed everyone how lethal they could be in front of goal. As expected, they were still profligate in the match but they settled for six against the Premier League newbies. Walcott also got his first senior hat trick in Arsenal colours with that game.
August Goal of the Month
Theo Walcott against Blackburn: A very good attacking play from Arsenal saw Walcott go through on the edge of the box after a brilliant one-time pass from van Persie. He smashed his shot past Robinson to the bottom corner. It was also the only Arsenal goal that literally tore the net.
August Save of the Month
Manuel Almunia against Blackburn: It was a good stop from Arsenal’s troubled goalie as he brought back the form of the 2007/08 season to make a save that made him hit his back on the post.
August Player of the Month
Theo Walcott: Four goals in three games was an amazing return for a winger who was criticized for not having a football brain. It was also good for Walcott to start the season strongly because he missed out on the summer’s World Cup thereby giving Fabio Capello a cause for concern.
September was a good month for Arsenal FC. The team kicked off the month with an orgasmic display against Bolton that saw them run out as 4-1 winners. Champions League newbies Braga were shown the light as they were on the wrong end of a 6-0 spanking.
A Darren Bent goal at the death ensured that Arsenal shared the spoils with Sunderland in a 1-1 draw, but the players responded with a sweet North London Derby Carling Cup 4-1 victory against the old enemy.
Manuel Almunia lost his place in the squad when West Brom inflicted the first defeat of Arsenal’s season in a 3-2 reverse. Arsenal ended the month with a 3-1 win against Champions League minnows Partizan Belgrade.
September Match of the Month
Tottenham 1 Arsenal 4 (Lansbury, Nasri (2), Arshavin): White Hart Lane was the ground that Arsenal lost their title charge last season so it was pleasurable to know that the players plotted their sweet revenge on a cold Wednesday night in the Carling Cup. The highlight of the game was definitely Nasri’s penalties because Tomas Rosicky said that he was scared of taking it when he was brought down at the Stadium of Light.
September Goal of the Month
Carlos Vela against Bolton: Fabregas was the star of the show with his amazing passing skills, but the through ball he gave to Vela was the icing on the cake for the Gunners that had successfully shared 23 uninterrupted passes before the ball got to the captain’s boot. Vela controlled his brilliant chip over the top pass to slot the ball past Jaaskelainen.
September Save of the Month
Lukasz Fabianski against Partizan Belgrade: After Almunia proved his critics right that he was a goalie bereft of confidence, Wenger gave Fabianski another chance to quell his own personal demons. Fabianski was faced with a penalty that would have given Partizan an outside chance of getting back into the game, but he produced a top drawer save that guided the ball out for a corner. The scream Fabianski let out after saving the penalty could be heard on the Moon.
September Player of the Month
Samir Nasri: The winger also missed out of the World Cup but he put up some scintillating displays in the month of September. He also scored four goals and had a fair share of assists.
Arsenal didn’t start October well, but they picked themselves up from a 2-0 defeat against Chelsea to win every other game football offered that month. They started with a 2-1 victory against Birmingham followed by a 5-1 demolition of Shakhtar that featured the emotional return of Eduardo to a place he once called home.
Wenger’s men showed their title challenging intent by thrashing Man City 3-0 in their own turf. The Gunners visited St. James Park in the Carling Cup and ran riot with a 4-0 mauling of their hosts. Arsenal ended the month with a hard fought 1-0 win against West Ham.
October Match of the Month
Man City 0 Arsenal 3 (Nasri, Song, Bendtner): Arsenal visited a Man City side that was impregnable at home but the 3-0 score line flattered the hosts because the Gunners would have gone goal crazy if not for the goalkeeping exploits of Joe Hart. The win also propelled the Gunners to second place in the league standings.
October Goal of the Month
Nicklas Bendtner against Newcastle: Wenger finally revolutionized his Carling Cup squad with the perfect blend of youngsters and an "experienced" lot to help them. In a game where Walcott showed how composed he could be in front of the goal, Bendtner stole the show with a goal that’s simply regarded as a thing of beauty. He got the ball at the edge of the box and curled it to the top corner, leaving Newcastle’s goalie with no chance in Hell.
October Save of the Month
Lukasz Fabianski against Man City: Since he claimed the No. 1 jersey back from Almunia, Fabianski played more games with confidence and consistency. When Arsenal visited the City of Manchester Stadium, Fabianski made a magnificent save from a shot by Boateng. With many bodies present in the box, there was little time for Fabianski to gear himself up but he did superbly to punch the ball out for a corner.
October Player of the Month
Alex Song: The former dreadlock wearing player went to his hairstylists to unleash a new hairstyle that would make his appearance change in the next Pro Evolution Soccer. The hairstyle made him look like the missing link between Abel Xavier and Djibril Cisse, but his exploits on the pitch were very impressive. It was also his highest ever scoring month in Arsenal colours, as the defensive midfielder scored three goals in the month. That is one more than all the goals his fellow African defensive midfielder John Mikel Obi has scored in his entire career.
November has always been regarded as a bogey month in Arsenal FC, and this month was no different. Arsenal kicked off the month with a 2-1 loss in the hands of Shakhtar thanks to the tomfoolery of Gael Clichy. Andy Carroll’s solitary goal against Arsenal at the Emirates was enough to grant Newcastle all three points.
Fabianski inspired two back-to-back away victories against Wolves (2-0) and Everton (2-1) before Arsenal put up a Gooner Daily worst match of the season contender when they gave up a healthy 2-0 lead to lose 3-2 to Tottenham.
Arsenal’s Champions League qualification hopes were hanging on a thin thread when Wenger’s men lost away to Braga thanks to two goals from Matheus. The Gunners responded back in the Premier League with a 4-2 win against Aston Villa before ending the month with a 2-0 victory against Wigan in the Carling Cup.
November Match of the Month
Aston Villa 2 Arsenal 4: This match will be fondly remembered by me because it was the first ever match review post I published. Arsenal had suffered back-to-back losses before this game, so a response was needed from Wenger’s men and they duly delivered. The game was probably Arshavin’s best game in an Arsenal shirt this season.
November Goal of the Month
Andrei Arshavin against Aston Villa: Arshavin had a bad season by his standards this year, but the goal was enough to get his critics off his back for a few weeks at least. Arshavin started a solo run from the left hand side that saw him evade his markers before he slammed the ball past Friedel.
November Save of the Month
Lukasz Fabianski against Wolves: In a game where we found ourselves at the back foot throughout the game, Fabianski pulled out a save of the highest quality in the dying moments of the game. With Arsenal leading by a lone goal with seconds to spare, a low drive to the bottom corner was saved by Fabianski’s left hand. The best part of it all was that his long throw led to a quick counter attack which saw the Gunners go two up thanks to Chamakh.
November Player of the Month
Marouane Chamakh: Arsenal’s free signing did extremely well in the absence of Robin van Persie and Bendtner who were both nursing injuries. Chamakh scored four goals this month and also did well to win penalties for Arsenal since the season began. It’s really amazing to know that he cost Arsenal nothing.
The Arsenal players were in a festive mood in the month of December. Nasri’s sheer brilliance inspired a 2-1 win against Fulham which was followed by a 3-1 win against Partizan that sent Arsenal to the knockout phase of the Champions League.
Arsenal was knocked off the summit of the Premier League courtesy of a Park Ji-Sung lone goal when they visited Man Utd in Old Trafford. The game against Stoke was suspended due to heavy snow. Arsenal put up another brilliant display when they hosted Chelsea in a match they ran out as 3-1 winners. They ended the year with a disappointing 2-2 draw against Wigan thanks to Squillaci’s own goal.
December Match of the Month
Arsenal 3 Chelsea 1 (Song, Fabregas, Walcott): This game was definitely one of the high points of a season that ended on a low. Arsenal enjoyed a nine-day break that the postponement from the Stoke game caused, to be fresh enough to see off an aging Chelsea side.
December Goal of the Month
Samir Nasri against Fulham: Nasri scored an amazing goal that saw able bodied Fulham defenders clean the Emirates Stadium with their black shorts. It was more or less a magic trick because the defenders where still looking bewildered and perplexed after the goal had been scored.
December Save of the Month
When Arsenal visited Old Trafford in December, Wojciech Szczesny was handed a debut which he performed admirably. Rooney noticed that Szczesny was off his line so he tried to chip the goalie from outside the box. Szczesny did well to pull up a magnificent save.
December Player of the Month
Samir Nasri: Gooner Daily’s September Player of the Year put up a series of breathtaking performances that saw him end the year with the coveted French Footballer of the Year award. He scored three goals this month, taking his overall tally to 12, making him Arsenal’s highest goal scorer at this point.
January was the month I wished the league ended because Arsenal was on a good run of form. The club started the year by completing the double against Birmingham via a 3-0 victory. Man City came to the Emirates and parked the bus, thereby forcing a goalless stalemate.
Fabregas spared Arsenal’s blushes in the FA Cup against Leeds to level the tie at 1-1 at the death. Ipswich stunned the Gunners with a 1-0 Carling Cup semifinal win, but AW’s men responded with a 3-0 win against West Ham.
Arsenal brushed Leeds aside with a 3-1 win in the FA Cup replay. This was followed by a 3-0 win against Wigan in a game where RvP scored his first Arsenal hat trick. Arsenal booked their Carling Cup final ticket with a 3-0 second-leg win against Ipswich. The Gunners ended the month with a 2-1 win against Huddersfield Town.
January Match of the Month
Arsenal 3 Ipswich 0 (Bendtner, Koscielny, Fabregas): This game may not be my reader’s choice as the game of the month, but we cannot underestimate the importance of this tie. It was the game that Arsenal used to seal its ticket to its first Carling Cup final since 2007.
January Goal of the Month
Nicklas Bendtner against Ipswich: The rangy Dane received a long through ball from Wilshere and he controlled the ball superbly. He then had a few touches before he curled the ball past Fulop in the Ipswich goal. The goal showed how technically adept Nicklas Bendtner is.
January Save of the Month
Manuel Almunia against Huddersfield Town: Fabianski’s shoulder surgery ruled him out for the season so Szczesny made the No. 1 spot his at the expense of Almunia. This meant that Almunia was used in the lesser Cup matches but the save he made against Huddersfield from point blank range rolled back the years.
January Player of the Month
Robin van Persie: This Flying Dutchman took 2011 by storm by going on an amazing goal scoring form. The striker smashed in seven goals in the month of January.
Despite the fact that February is labeled as the month of love, Arsenal didn’t show much love to the opposition teams they played in the month of February. They started the month with a hard earned 2-1 victory against Everton. The next game would be considered as a Premier League epic for the neutrals, but Arsenal’s 4-4 draw against Newcastle is highly regarded as a massive disappointment by the fans because the Gunners threw away a handsome four-goal lead to draw the game.
Robin van Persie inspired a 2-0 win against Wolves before the Gunners sent all Arsenal fans worldwide into euphoria and footballing orgasm when they beat Barcelona 2-1 at the Emirates. A poor display against Leyton Orient saw the Gunners end the tie in a 1-1 draw in a game that saw Rosicky score his first goal since Merlin was a wizard at Camelot.
A 1-0 victory with a price came against Stoke, but Koscielny and Szczesny left tears in the eyes of many Arsenal fans when they decided to hand Birmingham the Carling Cup trophy in the most acrimonious of circumstances. The 2-1 loss against Birmingham in the Carling Cup final saw Arsenal blow their most realistic chance of securing any trophy of any sort.
February Match of the Month
Arsenal 2 Barcelona 1 (van Persie, Arshavin): This is one game I’m going to tell my kids about when they grow up. No team in La Liga had won Barcelona after they had scored first, but Arsenal broke their jinx and gave Arsenal fans a night to remember.
February Goal of the Month
Robin van Persie against Barcelona: I still do not know what was going through van Persie’s mind when he was about to take that shot form such an impossible angle. I can’t recall any goal better that month.
February Save of the Month
Wojciech Szczesny against Newcastle: Even if Szczesny removed the ball from his net four times, he was still Arsenal’s Man of the Match because he produced some amazing saves in a game that saw Arsenal lose their defensive coordination after Djourou was substituted.
February Player of the Month
Robin van Persie: The striker proved to the world that he was the most lethal striker in the business with six extra goals to his name. This month he scored all sorts of goals ranging from headers and low drives to scissors kicks.
March was undoubtedly the worst month in every Arsenal fan's calendar. The team that scored goals for fun all season long became so profligate in attack and poor in defense. They started the month on a high with a 5-0 win over Leyton Orient in the FA Cup replay. The game had landmarks which include Bendtner’s second hat trick in Arsenal colours, Chamakh’s first goal since the days Idi Amin ruled Uganda and Clichy’s first goal since the days Napoleon Bonaparte ruled France.
A bore 0-0 draw against Sunderland followed. Szczesny chose the worst game to rupture his finger tendon, thanks to that diving nitwit called Dani Alves. Barcelona beat Arsenal 3-1 but the game will be undoubtedly remembered for Arsenal’s impotence in front of the goal. Man Utd compounded Arsenal’s misery by defeating the Gunners in the FA Cup quarterfinal with seven defenders starting the game for them. The final score was 2-0.
Arsenal ended the month with a disappointing 2-2 draw against West Brom. The game will never be forgotten for that awkward moment when Almunia’s sanity microchip went haywire.
March Match of the Month
Arsenal 5 Leyton Orient 0 (Chamakh, Bendtner (3), Clichy): In a month that was shrouded with disappointment and despair, this game stands out as the match of the month.
March Goal of the Month
Andrei Arshavin against West Brom: Chamakh did some hard work in the midfield before he teed up Arshavin who showed that glimpse of quality that made everybody know that form is temporary and class is permanent. He controlled the ball with one foot and smashed it in with the other, leaving Carson motionless as he watched the ball go in.
March Save of the Month
Wojciech Szczesny against Sunderland: Arsenal pressed and probed Sunderland for that elusive match opener that never came. But, at the other end of the pitch, Welbeck had a chance to hand the visitors all three points but Szczesny pulled off a magnificent save.
March Player of the Month
Jack Wilshere: This is the first month that the award didn’t go to any player who scored one million goals or made one million assists. Wilshere was Arsenal’s standout player in the dark month of March. If Bendtner had converted the proposed assist he gave him at the Nou Camp, the story might have been a lot different.
April was the first month the Gunners had the chance to fight for the only trophy that was in their grasp, but they capitulated in grand style to hand over the title challenging baton to Chelsea. Arsenal would have been league champions if they won all their remaining games in the season because mathematics was on their side.
The Gunners started the month with a lethargic 0-0 draw against Blackburn. They followed that poor result up with a nervy yet convincing 3-1 win against Blackpool. In the most important week of the season, the AW players self-destructed against Liverpool (1-1) before letting a two-goal lead slip against Tottenham (3-3). They ended the month and their title challenge by conceding a 90th goal against Bolton (2-1). That result also brought their long-lasting unbeaten run to an end.
April Match of the Month
Tottenham 3 Arsenal 3 (Walcott, Nasri, van Persie): Both teams needed a victory to challenge for their targets so a draw didn’t help their cause, but the game was enthralling and entertaining for those neutral football lovers.
April Goal of the Month
Samir Nasri against Tottenham: After having a blistering 2010, Nasri's goal-well began to dry up because he had previously scored against Birmingham and Leeds in January. It was a well-timed drilled effort that went past that calamitous Gomes from outside the box.
April Save of the Month
Wojciech Szczesny against Bolton: Arsenal was trailing Bolton by a lone goal at halftime but, seconds into the second half, Djourou conceded a penalty which was saved by Szczesny, thereby keeping Arsenal in the game.
April Player of the Month
Robin van Persie: The Dutchman scored four goals in five games for Arsenal to continue his impressive goal scoring form.
The final month of the season had little or no relevance to Arsenal FC because they had blown their chance of winning the Premier League with that loss against Bolton in the last game of April.
Arsenal started the month with a pride-restoring 1-0 victory against Man Utd but followed it up with back-to-back losses against Stoke (3-1) and Aston Villa (2-1). AW’s men ended the 2010/11 campaign with a 2-2 draw against Fulham in a game that saw Fulham receive their first red card all season long.
May Match of the Month
Arsenal 1 Man Utd 0 (Ramsey): This was supposed to be the title decider but Arsenal’s capitulation in the month of April ensured that it was going to be just another game on the League’s roaster.
May Goal of the Month
Theo Walcott against Fulham: The pacey winger scored his 13th goal and Arsenal’s last goal of the 2010/11 season with a lovely solo run from the halfway line that hit the post before going in.
May Save of the Month
Wojciech Szczesny against Aston Villa: Even though he was beaten twice by Bent in the first half, Szczesny pulled up two good stops to make the score line respectable. Shortly after saving Young’s shot, Szczesny did well to save Downing’s shot that went through Gibbs’ legs
May Player of the Month
Robin van Persie: The forward scored three goals in the four games he played this month, taking his tally to 22 goals; a personal best.
Arsenal ended the 2010/11 season with 68 points. This is the same point total the club amassed in the 2006/07 campaign. They also ended that season in fourth place.
Thanks for reading this post.
Arsenal FC, it has been emotional.
There’s a big summer to look forward to.
In Arsene We Trust.