Arsenal FC: 13 Unlucky Moments in Recent Gunners History
Arsenal have had their fair share of bad luck at different times over the last few seasons, but they are no excuse for the club's failure to deliver any trophies since 2005. It takes more than just bad luck for a top four team to go so long without a trophy, but I will attempt to assess some of their recent misfortune, which ultimately hasn't helped their cause over the last few seasons.
2011 Carling Cup Final Miscue
Arsenal reached the Carling Cup final last season and they were huge favourites to beat Birmingham City in the Wembley decider. After a poor start, Arsenal came from a goal down to equalise, then created chance after chance in the second half. With only a minute remaining, the game looked destined for extra time and maybe even penalties.
However, disaster struck for Arsenal in that last minute when a defensive mix-up between Wojciech Szczesny and Laurent Koscielny gave Obafemi Martins the simple task of putting the ball into an empty net.
It was too late for Arsenal to recover and Birmingham lifted the trophy in jubilation. It was a very unfortunate error for which Koscielny was probably at fault, and it signaled a rapid decline in Arsenal's form.
Arsenal 0-0 Sunderland March 2011
Arsenal had lost the Carling Cup final to Birmingham the week before this game, but they were still in contention in the Premier League. Sunderland came to the Emirates on a very poor run, but they did all they could to frustrate an Arsenal team which was still suffering after their defeat to Birmingham.
The crunch moment in the game came when Andrey Arshavin was played in and scored what looked like it would be the winning goal for Arsenal. Unfortunately for Arsenal the goal was ruled out for offside by the assistant referee, but TV replays showed he got the decision wrong.
Arsenal only managed to win two of their remaining 10 games in the Premier League, and faded to finish in fourth place. If that goal had been allowed it might just have given the team the confidence to continue their challenge, and maybe deliver a league title too.
Robin Van Persie Red Card Vs. Barcelona
Arsenal progressed from their Champions League group in second place last season, and their prize was a tie against tournament favourites Barcelona.
In the home leg Arsenal fought back from a goal down to win 2-1, and they went to Spain for the second leg more in hope than expectation. They fell behind just before half-time, but early in the second half they equalised which put them ahead in the tie.
Barcelona had to push forward to try to get the two goals they needed to progress, and Arsenal looked to hit them on the break.The atmosphere in the stadium was electric and it wasn't easy for the players to hear the referee's whistle at times. Robin Van Persie was played in and took his shot after the whistle had gone.
He had been booked in the first half for very little and the referee decided his actions deserved another yellow card which meant he was sent off. It was an incredible decision, but it proved to be a fatal blow for Arsenal as Barcelona got the two goals they needed.
Arsenal 1-1 Liverpool April 2011
Arsenal's chances in the Premier League were hanging by a thread last season when Liverpool came to visit them in mid-April. Arsenal had seven games left to play, but their form had slipped badly since the Carling Cup final defeat to Birmingham City. A win over Liverpool would have kept them in the hunt, but they made very hard work of their efforts on the day.
There was a bad injury to Jamie Carragher in the second half which meant the referee added eight minutes of time to the end of the game. There was no score with that time almost up, but Arsenal got a penalty in the last of those minutes to take what looked like a winning lead.
Amazingly the Arsenal defence panicked when Liverpool attacked, and a stupid push by Emmanuel Eboue gave Liverpool a penalty. Dirk Kuyt stepped up to score the penalty for Liverpool in the 12th added minute, and in the process he almost certainly ended Arsenal's title hopes.
It could have been bad luck for Arsenal to have conceded a penalty so late in the game, or maybe the bad luck was the inclusion of Eboue in their team.
Arsenal 0-0 Vs Man City January 2011
Arsenal were doing quite well in the Premier League at the turn of the year when Manchester City came to visit them. They had already won 3-0 away to City when their opponents were reduced to 10 men early on, and another performance like that was on the cards.
The City manager decided to play an ultra-defensive formation and hope for a point or a goal on the break.
The game ended 0-0 which looks like Mancini got his tactics right, but in fact his team were very lucky on the night. Arsenal hit the post three times and City's goalkeeper, Joe Hart, was their man of the match.
If those points had been gained in January they might just have made the difference for Arsenal, and helped them to finish above City at the end of the season.
Johan Djourou Injured as Arsenal Surrenders 4-0 Lead to Newcastle United
Arsenal's 4-4 draw with Newcastle United in February 2011 will go down in Premier League history for all the wrong reasons from Arsenal's perspective. It marked the biggest lead any team had lost since the advent of the Premier League in 1992, and it showed a weakness in the Arsenal team that others looked to exploit later in the season.
Arsenal began the match by racing to a 4-0 lead before halftime, and there looked to be no way back for Newcastle at that stage.
Djourou picked up an injury early in the second half and was replaced by Sebastien Squillaci in the heart of the Arsenal defence. The turning point in the game may have been the sending off of Abu Diaby, but Arsenal could have coped with Newcastle's bombardment a lot better if Djourou had still been on the pitch.
Thomas Vermaelen Injury September 2010
Arsenal started last season with Thomas Vermaelen as their first choice centre back, after he had performed really well the previous season in his first season at the club. He had looked very good defensively, and scored some good goals at the other end too.
He was away on international duty with Belgium when he picked up what was thought to be a slight injury. When he returned to the club his comeback was slightly delayed at first, but the timescale for his return was continually deferred.
He eventually returned at the end of the season when Arsenal no longer had anything but their pride to play for, and his absence was sorely felt. It meant other less capable players had to play at vital times, and ultimately it was one of the reasons for their demise.
Robin Van Persie Injury September 2010
Arsenal started last season with Robin Van Persie as their first choice striker after he had reached the World Cup final with Holland a few weeks earlier.
He has had a very chequered career because of injury, and he had missed most of the previous season for that reason. In the first two games RVP was only used as a substitute, but he only lasted 34 minutes in his first start against Blackburn.
When he eventually returned to the team he managed 18 Premier league goals in 19 Premier League starts. His injury occurred in an innocuous looking challenge, and it was typical of the bad luck Arsenal and the player have suffered with injuries.
Cesc Fabregas Breaks Leg Against Barcelona
When Arsenal drew Barcelona in the quarterfinals of the 2010 Champions League, the Spanish team were defending champions and favourites to boot. Arsenal found themselves down two goals and looked destined to be beaten, both on the night and in the tie.
However, Arsenal managed a comeback, which was capped by a Cesc Fabregas penalty for a foul on him by Carlos Puyol.
Cesc scored the penalty and Arsenal drew the game, with Puyol getting a red card for his foul. It looked like any other foul, but in fact it caused a break to Fabregas's leg and his season was over.
He did manage to score the penalty despite the break, but I think an adrenalin rush helped him through before the pain sank in.
In the return leg, a clearly weakened Arsenal team were well beaten despite taking an early lead.
Aaron Ramsey Leg Break Vs Stoke City
Arsenal paid a visit to Stoke City at the end of February 2010 in the Premier League, and it's a game which won't be forgotten by their fans.
They were 1-0 down early on, but a Nicklas Bendtner goal got them back into the game. With only 20 minutes to go Aaron Ramsey nipped in to take the ball after Ryan Shawcross had knocked it too far ahead of himself just inside the Arsenal half.
Shawcross would have been caught badly out of position with Arsenal breaking quickly, and he made sure Ramsey didn't get past him in my opinion. I won't say he deliberately broke Ramsey's leg, but an overly physical tackle where the ball cannot be won is always risky and Ramsey paid the price for his gamble.
The Arsenal players were visibly shocked as the lower end of Ramsey's leg hung by a thread, but they used the pain they felt to win the game with two late goals.
It took Ramsey nearly a full year to recover sufficiently to play for Arsenal again, and I think he still has some way to go to reach the stage he was at before the injury. He was bought by Arsenal to be the long term replacement for Cesc Fabregas, but that injury set him back quite a bit in his road to replacing Cesc.
Abu Diaby Scores Own Goal Against Manchester United
Arsenal started off the 2009/10 season in very good form, and they paid Manchester United a visit in their third league game. They dominated play in the first half and took the lead through a well taken Andrey Arshavin goal.
In the second half, United pushed further forward and won a penalty through what some viewed as a dive by Wayne Rooney. The replays showed Rooney dragging both feet on the ground before the Arsenal keeper made contact with him.
Soon after United scored their penalty, Abu Diaby rose unchallenged in his own box to head a free kick clear, but he somehow managed to head the ball into his own goal.
Arsenal fought back bravely, but the equaliser just wouldn't come for them. They had a goal disallowed late in the game, and Arsene Wenger was dispatched to the stands for the outrageous crime of kicking a water bottle. The sight of him standing "Messiah-like among the United hordes will live long in the memories of Arsenal fans.
Liverpool Penalty Vs Arsenal Champions League 2008
Arsenal had drawn 1-1 at home to Liverpool in the first leg of the Champions League quarter final in April 2008. They faced the tough task of going to Anfield and winning, or at least getting a high scoring draw to qualify for the semi-finals.
From the start Arsenal took the game to Liverpool, and played the type of football that very few teams can match or cope with. Arsenal took the lead through Abu Diaby, but Liverpool fought back and eventually went in front with 20 minutes remaining.
A brilliant run by Theo Walcott set Emmanuel Adebayor up for the equaliser, and Arsenal were only seven minutes from the semi-final. Immediately from the kick off Liverpool attacked, and Ryan Babel went down very easily when challenged by Kolo Toure.
Replays showed it was not a penalty, but Steven Gerrard stepped up to put Liverpool through to the semi-finals and leave Arsenal cursing their luck yet again. They added a fourth goal in added time, as Arsenal threw everybody forward in search of an equaliser, and it was a cruel way for Arsenal to exit the competition.
Eduardo Da Silva Leg Break Vs Birmingham City
February 23rd 2008 is a date that will remain in the memories of Arsenal fans for years to come.
Eduardo da Silva had been bought the previous summer to bring his goalscoring abilities to the Arsenal team, and he was in a rich vein of form. The ball was played to his feet very early on, and Martin Taylor saw his chance to let his man "know he was there".
Unfortunately for Arsenal the challenge snapped Eduardo's ankle in half, and the Arsenal players were visibly shocked by what they had seen. After falling behind Arsenal came back to lead 2-1 before an incorrectly given penalty got a point for Birmingham.
It took Arsenal weeks to recover from the events of that day, and by the time they did their league challenge came up just a little short.
It was very bad luck for both the player and the team, and I don't think Taylor set out deliberately to maim him. However, tackles like his are only now being questioned, and they have to be eradicated from the game.
That's it for today.
As usual feel free to point out any glaring omissions or any instances which I perceived as luck which may not have been. It's possible that the purchases of certain players might be seen as bad luck, or maybe bad judgement by the management.
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