A – Arsene – At times this season I have genuinely feared for Arsene’s health on the touchline. Waterbottles have existed in a state of terror and not even the stunning sight of Pat Rice’s legs in his short shorts could distract Arsene from ranting like a loon as his Arsenal side insisted on finding new and improved ways to cock things up this season. He’s got some stuff wrong and some stuff right, but he’s still Arsene and we love him. Well, most of us do.
B – Big games – This season saw an improvement when it came to playing big games, well, as long as those big games didn’t happen at the start of the season, or involve a big game against a not-so-big side. We continued our trend of offering a care in the community type scheme in helping newly promoted teams get a few points on the board, but we defeated Chelsea away (he fell over), Man City and humiliated Sp*rs (two nil and you fucked it up). Plus there was also that home match against AC Milan if we just ignore the away leg which preceded it.
C – Champions League – This season has been all about gaining automatic qualification so that we can continue our run of a gazillion years straight in the competition. The away game against AC Milan was one of the season’s low points, and in a season which contained a rock bottom, 20 layers of shit and then Arsenal at times, the home performance against Milan stands as one of the highlights. Didn’t want to win it anyway.
D – Defence – I’ve heard about it. I’ve seen glimpses of it, but like most of the Arsenal team, I’m not sure I truly understand it. If defending is an art then we are the three year old with fingerpaints at times. Granted, a lot of our issues arose when we were without a recognised full back and had to play centrebacks out wide but the fact remains that we have conceded more goals through individual errors than any other side in the league.
E – Emirates – The Emirates and the home crowd has been criticised in many quarters for its silence at times and for getting on the players backs too easily but in the second half of the season something changed and it became a different place. Anyone who hasn’t been to the Emirates lately will likely not know because the positives never get mentioned by the press, but it has become a place where the crowd is now that valuable 12th man. Long may it last.
F – Free kicks – We get them, we waste them, we don’t seem to know that not only can we practice taking them but we can practice defending them too. Dread fills the heart of every Arsenal fan when we concede one in our own half while when we win one up the other end we giggle about which row it will hit. We got a few right this season, but mostly we didn’t.
G – Gary Neville – Not strictly Arsenal related but worth a mention nonetheless. Just snaffled by England to join the coaching set-up Neville astounded football fans all over the world who had previously hated him with a passion by actually being a fair, unbiased and bloody good pundit. The best on TV by some distance and thankfully his contract will allow him to carry on in this role otherwise we’d have had to put up with even more of Jamie Redknapp and his inability to find trousers that actually fit.
H – Henry – He returned. It was a fairytale that’s for sure. Arsenal’s leading goalscorer came off the bench to score the winner against Leeds in the FA Cup and then with his last act scored the seventh in a rout against Blackburn. Of course, the FA took that goal off him so his last official goal was the one which grabbed the points against Sunderland. It could have all went so horribly wrong but instead it cemented his place in Arsenal history and gave the statue makers some work to do outside the Emirates.
I – Injuries – They are commonplace at Arsenal now and for the second season running we finished runner up in the injury league. Jack missed the whole season and Diaby played a total of 98 minutes with not one start and ended his last appearance by getting injured. We went through a whole month with no full backs, watched as midfielders dropped like Joey Barton when someone has looked at him the wrong way, and prayed every single second of every single match that Robin could survive in what was perhaps the biggest shock of the season – he didn’t get injured at all!
J – Jack – My how we missed him. What could we have done with him strutting around our midfield? Losing Cesc was a blow, Nasri not so much, but to lose Jack as well was crippling.
K – Koscielny – Much maligned when he was first signed Kos was Mr. Consistency this season and had valid claims to be the top centreback in the league, bettered perhaps, only by Kompany. Kos has made a lot of people have to eat their words. He is composed and considered and the best centreback at Arsenal without question. He made the most tackles (85) and most interceptions (81) of any centreback in the league this season. Fact.
L – Luck – Given how we finished the season you could say that it was on our side however at times throughout the season it seemed like it had abandoned us altogether. We finished second last in the debatable decisions table with an overall record of negative ten when it comes to wrong decisions in our favour pitted against wrong decisions that went against us. That being said, the way these things work we still would have ended up with 70 points but would have been one behind Sp*rs instead of ahead. Football is weird.
M – Manchester – If Manchester didn’t exist we would be champions. We also wouldn’t have had to endure *that* match at the start of the season. Reason enough for me to see it wiped from the face of the planet.
N – North London – Is red. It will always be red.
O – Own goals – We love them, we love them so much that we scored more of them than anyone else this season, five to be precise. Kos scored two all by himself bettered only by Scott Dann who recently had Henry’s 229th Arsenal goal given to him.
P – Penalties – We don’t get them anymore. We didn’t get one single penalty at home this season and there were some pretty blatant ones which were ignored. Ever since ‘Eduradogate’ there has been a feeling amongst Arsenal fans that we don’t get the penalties we deserve. Funny how one dive which wasn’t even a dive by a player who has never done that sort of thing since or before impacts on people’s views of clubs whereas when you have a player who is known to be a serially-diver people just sort of go ‘oh, it’s him, he dives all the time.’ It doesn’t make sense.
Q – Quality – We had it in patches and some of our defending was quality comedy. Lacking it in abundance like we are used to but it will come with the return of Jack, Ramsey getting his form back and Gervinho getting over the African Cup of Nations. Throw RvP in to the mix alongside Podolski and another signing or too, add the Ox and a more consistent Theo and we suddenly look a lot more Quality Street and a lot less Tesco Value.
R – Records – Robin broke some and narrowly missed others such as falling one short of Alan Shearer’s 35 in a calendar year target, Arsenal set them, though granted not at the right end of the spectrum with *that* game at Old Trafford. Robin was also the first goalscorer to reach 10, 20 and 30 goals this season.
S – Silverware – Robin won it all, PFA Player of the Year, Football Writer’s Player of the Year and Golden Boot, Golden Boot Landmark 10, Golden Boot Landmark 20, and Golden Boot Landmark 30, which aren’t quite silver, but, well, are you complaining? Yes, I know, seven years blah blah.
T – Transfers – Was it supermarket sweep or a considered transfer policy? I don’t think anyone will say it was the latter but I don’t think it was quite the former as many have made out either. Apart from Park, he’s like a player who came in a tin with no label. Arsenal spent over £50m last summer which isn’t too bad for a manager who apparently only likes to hoarde all our money in the bank so he can look at it. Arteta was magnificent and so was Per before his injury. The Ox? I remember a load of people going mental when we signed a kid for £12million. They’ve probably passed on now, choking on their own drool after watching him play.
U – Underachievers – That’s what we are. After our start to the season many would say that we overachieved, but the potential that is within this squad should have had us closer to the top and not dumped out of the FA Cup by Sunderland. A team that can both lose to AC Milan badly and thrash them. That’s what we are.
V – van Persie – Do I need to say more? Oh ok then. His first ‘proper’ season for Arsenal since his arrival in 2004 managing 47 appearances during an uninterrupted campaign when previously the most he’d managed was 44 (higher than I thought too, 2008-09 season and ended that one with 20 goals and 15 assists). Boy did we get to see what that could do for him – he scores when he wants you know. 37 goals, 14 assists and a contract that is rapidly expiring. Robin has a reputation for never being fit, but when you look at his stats he’s managed 40 appearances in one season for Arsenal on three occasions and an average of almost 35 per year. If you compare that to Henry who doesn’t have that reputation and you see that Henry averaged around 10 appearances more per season. Strange huh? Incidentally, Henry was at Arsenal for eight years and Robin has just completed his eighth season.
W – War – I put this in when I was coming up with the words but can’t remember why now. What is it good for? Absolutely nothing.
X – X-rays – Arsenal have had more broken legs over the past few seasons than all the other teams in the Premier League combined. I don’t have the stats to back this up but I know it’s true. Sagna had two broken legs this season alone for god’s sake!
Y – Y U NO MIND THE GAP TOTTENHAM? – They declared they were better than us in October and they could win the league. They stretched their lead to 10 points (13 if you consider where we stood at 2 nil down in *that* match) and they were laughing. The press talked about a ‘power shift in North London’ despite the fact that we have finished above them every year since Wenger took charge of Arsenal and one season does not a power shift make. They printed tshirts, ‘Mind the Gap’ they giggled. We reminded them that final league standings are not decided in October. Nor in January. We asked them to come back in May.
They crashed out of Europe and thus had only the league to concentrate on. They were playing the best football seen at their club for some 50 years while we had our worst start to a league campaign in 58 years.
We still finished above them.
Perhaps they couldn’t see the gap because of that perpetual shadow they reside in?
Z – Zombies – We played like them sometimes. That’s pretty much the only thing I could think of for Z.
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