The 2010/11 season was a season to forget in Arsenal Football Club. A season that promised so much ended in shambles and the panic button was pressed so hard that it sprang out of the remote control.
The club won the 2011 Emirates Cup following a draw with seven-time Champions League winners AC Milan and a 3-2 victory over Celtic. At the start of the New Year, Arsenal was the only club that was still eligible to win every competition football as a port had to offer but disaster struck as the season progressed.
The Gunners had another clear shot of silverware on the 27th of February when they took on Birmingham in Wembley, but the game will be remembered for the error that won Birmingham the game after a mix-up between Laurent Koscielny and Wojciech Szczesny. Arsenal were shown the exit door in the Champions League by Barcelona and Manchester United drove the nail in the club’s FA Cup coffin despite starting the tie with seven recognized defenders.
The Premier League offered the Gunners a chance to end the six-year trophy drought as well as the seven-year Premier League drought.
The last Arsenal team that won the Premier League did it in grand style as they went to an entire season unbeaten, so Wenger’s class of 2011 had it all to do when they were told that victories in their last nine games would have been enough to put their names in history. The last nine games included: Blackburn (home), Blackpool (away), Liverpool (home), Tottenham (away), Bolton (away), Manchester United (home), Stoke Rugby FC (away), Aston Villa (home) and Fulham (away).
With Manchester United competing on three fronts (league, FA Cup and Champions League), Arsenal were expected to have the fresher legs and had the chance to rest because every game was played on Sunday. But it wasn’t still enough for the Gunners, as they decided to put up a dismal run of form that can be compared with the likes of Wigan, Sunderland and Wolves.
The run started with a bore draw at the Emirates against a Blackburn side that has a goalie that opens the floodgates anytime he plays against Arsenal. Mad Jens Lehmann came back from retirement to be the custodian between the sticks in the 3-1 win at Bloomfield Road against the relegated Blackpool so Arsenal was faced with the “week of destiny,” with games coming up against Liverpool, Tottenham and Bolton.
With Manchester United making steady progress at the summit of the table, there was no room for error but Farmer Emmanuel Eboue inspired an amazing comeback for Liverpool in the 101st minute after Arsenal had gone ahead in the 98th minute. The spoils were also shared in the North London Derby after an intense battle so Arsenal required a win against Bolton to stay in touch with the leaders.
After conceding a headed goal to loanee Danny Sturridge, Wojciech Szczesny spared Arsenal’s blushes by making a good penalty save before Robin van Persie brought Arsenal back into the game after a neat one-two with Cesc Fabregas. Nasri and Chamakh had the chances to kill the game off but it was Tamir Cohen’s header in the 90th minute that inflicted the final blow in Arsenal’s title aspirations.
The fact that Arsenal lost to a side that was pummeled 5-0 by Stoke Rugby FC wasn’t enough; the defeat also meant that Chelsea had usurped Arsenal to second place as the new challengers for the title and were really close but Manchester United’s character shone through when they needed it the most. I’m very certain if Manchester United or Chelsea were behind Arsenal by three points, the match would have ended in a draw or a win for Arsenal’s rivals because the squad’s mentality is very low.
The remaining fixtures were mere formalities, so no eyebrows were raised when Manchester City leapfrogged Arsenal to take the final Champions League automatic slot. At the end of the Premier League campaign, Arsenal scored 72 goals and conceded 43 with a final league position of fourth place after amassing 68 points.
Some players like Robin van Persie, Jack Wilshere, Samir Nasri, Wojciech Szczesny, Bacary Sagna et al could raise their heads high and pat themselves in the back for a brilliant season but I’m going to lay emphasis on 10 Arsenal players that were largely disappointing in the entire campaign and they need to step their game up or face the axe.
Here’s my take on the infamous 10.