2014 for the Arsenal has been a very turbulent year to say the least. It started full of promise, it seemed possible we could finally end our nine year trophy drought potentially with a Premier League trophy. We failed miserably on that front but claimed an emphatic comeback win over Hull City to claim the FA Cup and consequently beat league champions Manchester City 3-0 in the Community Shield at the beginning of the 2014/15 campaign.
Since then injuries have decimated the squad and the Gunners end the year in fifth place, equal on points with tomorrow’s opponents Southampton. The same mistakes have been repeated and Arsenal continue to struggle against the best English sides with some horrific losses from earlier this year clearly scaring us.
2015 looks to be a promising year however if Wenger can do some business in the January transfer window and we keep our stars fit (maybe a little too much to expect).
Here are our thoughts from the year that has been, and a look forward to the next twelve months:
What was your favourite moment of 2014?
Matthieu: Aaron Ramsey’s winner at Wembley. Wow.
Nigel Summerburn: Thomas Vermaelen lifting the FA Cup trophy. That was the moment we had been waiting for nine years.
Santi: When we lifted the FA Cup, without a doubt.
Gunnerboy: Undoubtedly the FA cup in Wembley, to do that in the most Arsenalish way made it even more sweeter.
Derrick: Winning the FA cup.
Indi-Gooner: FA Cup victory.
What was your worst moment?
M: There have been plenty of horrible moments in 2014 to supplement some exceptional highs, one of the worst for me was June 13th. I remember it far too well. Having traveled to Brazil for the World Cup and learning I would be missing my opening game (Chile v Australia) in Cuiaba due to flight delays and the bastard GOL staff, I found some wifi access for the first time in a couple days. Cesc Fabregas was holding a Chelsea shirt like a Cheshire Cat with a snot-rag, Sagna signed for City and allArsenal had been hacked by a porn site. Scared.
N: Losing 1000th Wenger’s match against Mourinho 6:0. Our players really failed to give their manager what he deserved for his milestone game. Also, losing to the worst Manchester United in a decade at home this season after destroying them for over an hour was equally as painful.
S: Probably the loss to Stoke City; not only was it a horrible first half, it showed how badly we had been affected by injuries, Chambers got sent off and then all the stuff at the station happened. That was probably the most disunited the club has been since Wenger took over.
G: The indecency of the so called supporters who abused Arsene Wenger at Stoke Railway station. Felt really bad.
D: Losing to Liverpool.
I: Losing to Manchester United despite dominating the entire match.
M: There have been a few. The two wins of the Spuds feature highly, as do our various FA Cup wins on the road to Wembley. I’d go with the Cup final win over Hull, even though we went about it in a very Arsenal-y way going down 2-0 we showed real spirit and passion to claw back to 2-2. The extra time performance was exceptional with the introduction of Tomas Rosicky and Jack Wilshere.
N: Our victory against Everton in FA Cup. Maybe our best performance of the whole season, Özil, The Ox and super-sub Giroud destroyed the high-flying Toffees. Arteta’s calmness when he had to repeat the penalty was stunning. A victory over Liverpool while playing Yaya Sanogo in the starting eleven wasn’t bad either – we were second best for the large part of the match but The Ox and Fabianski kicked the Reds out of the competition.
S: I’d say the 3-0 win against City in the Shield. The season seemed so bright back then.
G: Liverpool in the Cup, an exciting result and a solid performance.
D: Against Tottenham when Rosicky scored THAT goal.
I: FA Cup and also the West Ham United match last weekend (as Wenger finally decided to change his formation and tactics based on the strength of the opposition)
M: The Liverpool loss. 5-1 at Anfield was dreadful and felt worse than the Chelsea disaster mainly because it was out of the blue after a strong run of form.
N: Away against Liverpool. It was bloody awful performance. Yes, we suffered an even worse thrashing against Chelsea but that defeat at Anfield that put an end to our title challenge.
S: Chelsea 6-0 Arsenal, back in March. Enough said.
G: United at home this season. We should have won by half a dozen but we lost. Chelsea and Liverpool away aren’t far behind.
D: The heavy Chelsea loss.
I: The 3-3 Anderlecht draw. A horrific defensive performance that added to this seasons woes.
M: Ramsey had a host, including the stunning Galatasaray long range effort and the FA Cup winning effort. But it has to be one of Rosicky’s two beauties against Spurs. The chip while through on goal was superb, but the absolute thunderbastard strike in March’s 1-0 win takes the cake for me.
N: It’s difficult to decide which Rosicky goal was better – the team-goal he scored against Sunderland after playing one-two’s with half of our team or that magnificent strike against the Spuds at White Hart Lane. The latter wins with the narrowest of margins simply because it was a goal that completed our North London Derby hat-trick.
S: I’d say the 3-0 win against City in the Shield. The season seemed so bright back then.
G: Ramsey’s at Wembley in the final. It may not have been his best but it definitely brought me more joy than any other.
D: Podolski had some rockets, but Rosicky’s against the Spuds was something else. Definitely the stunner in the opening minutes of the 1-0 win.
I: FA Cup extra time winner from Ramsey.
Here is Rosicky’s stunner:
Could watch Ramsey’s all day:
Funniest moment of 2014?
M: Theo Walcott’s ‘two-nil’ gesture to the Spuds.
N: Yaya Sanogo scoring four goals against the Europa League finalists Benfica.
S: I really loved it when the players made that video disproving nasty tweets sent to them. It was hilarious!
G: Andre Marriner handing a red card to Gibbs for a handball by the Ox. Hilarious.
D: Walcott being stretchered off the field taunting Tottenham fans.
I: Wenger’s showdown with the zipper.
Arsenal stars respond to twitter rants:
Arsenal player of 2014
M: Per Mertesacker. The German World Cup winner has come under plenty of criticism but he is the definition of a professional. He’s played a huge amount of minutes for a 30-year-old this year and gives everything on the pitch. The BFG has struggled a little without Koscielny by his side, but when the Frenchman’s in action they form one of Arsenal’s best central defensive partnerships this decade.
His goal against Wigan Athletic in the FA Cup semi final was perhaps one of the most important this year. Although he handed the lead to the Championship outfit after conceding a penalty, the lanky German netted his most important Arsenal goal and sent the match into extra time. He also retired from international football to focus on his Gunners career.
N: Alexis Sanchez has been with us for five months but he is arguably the best player Arsene Wenger has signed since Thierry Henry. Honourable mentions: Aaron Ramsey and Santi Cazorla scored goals in both of our trophy-winning games (Hull and Manchester City respectively), Laurent Koscielny was both our best defender and scored important goals.
S: Alexis Sanchez. He has made such an impact in such a short period of time that he has to be the best. Without him, we might have been in the bottom half of the table right now.
G: Everyone had their moments, Ramsey, Koscielny, BFG, Alexis but no one really stood out consistently for a year. I will have to say Alexis, he’s been tremendous since he arrived.
D: Cazorla for me.
I: Cazorla was the most consistent performer all season.
M: Kieran Gibbs. The England international is definitely our first choice left back and has been sublime over the past twelve months both defensively and in attack. He’s now back in the England national team and provides real competition for Baines and Shaw in the Three Lions set up.
N: Olivier Giroud. He had his personal issues at the beginning of the year and the fact he hadn’t had pacey wingers to play with for the biggest part of 2014 had a big negative impact on his form. Nevertheless, a striker that had struggled against big clubs in the first two seasons of his Arsenal campaign has already scored against Manchester City, Everton, Manchester United and Liverpool respectively this term. Furthermore, let’s not forget that Aaron Ramsey’s goal that won the first trophy for us after nine years came thanks to the brilliant back-heel assist by the Frenchman.
S: Aaron Ramsey. Last season it was like watching a totally different player and while he has not lived up to expectations this season he still makes telling contributions like the 2 goals against Galatasaray.
G: Has to be Kieran Gibbs, he’s much better defensively and his final balls are improving.
D: Olivier Giroud
I: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
Wooden spoon (who’s been a flop this year)
M: Joel Campbell for me. After a decent World Cup campaign he has failed to stamp his authority on this Arsenal first team. Despite some pre-season promise, when handed a chance to start or from the bench he’s failed to produce any telling contributions.
N: It’s difficult to say. Perhaps our fitness coaching staff and physios deserve a whole set of wooden spoons for all those injuries we have suffered.
S: David Ospina. He was brought in to challenge Szczesny for the No.1 spot but hasn’t managed to stay fit yet.
G: Mesut Ozil. The German is one of my favourite Arsenal players and although he did well to win the World Cup with Germany, it has to be said he hasn’t had a great 2014. I fully expect him to fire on all cylinders when he comes back.
D: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
I: Difficult to pick one player, many have had bad patches and no-one stands out in particular.
Nigel says: If he stays for a long time, he can get elevate to the height of Henry and Bergkamp. There, I said it.
Winter transfer window – who is your number one realistic transfer target you’d like to see in an Arsenal shirt?
M: I’d love to see Morgan Schneiderlin. As well as a defender like Ron Vlaar or Winston Reid come in. That’s being realistic. Mats Hummels is naturally a favourite and would be top of the list but just won’t happen.
N: Knowing Wenger’s ideological issue with the January transfer window (he wants it to be scrapped), perhaps Carl Jenkinson’s return from West Ham is the most realistic transfer target at the moment. It would be great to get a central defender that can allow Wenger to rest Per Mertesacker, a physical central midfielder wouldn’t harm us either… Let’s say Ron Vlaar and Victor Wanyama.
S: William Carvalho. It is highly unlikely that we will be able to lure someone like Hummels away and Wenger won’t settle for any other center back so…
G: Morgan Schneiderlein. Perfect replacement for Arteta. But if we get him we could convert him into a ball playing centre half.
D: Edison Cavani.
I: William Carvalho.
Ambitions for 2015, what is at the top of your wishlist?
M: Champions League win would be incredible and elevate Wenger to another level. The Frenchman has never been able to replicate the 2006 run to the final and has finally been handed a break with a favourable draw with Monaco in the last 16. A lift of the injury curse would certainly aid us.
N: Arsene Wenger to have a real plan. He does much better in odd years as there are no international tournaments over the summer. We need a well-balanced squad and more than one option in every position. We also need to assess why the hell our medical staff are the busiest in the league.
S: Some silverware ideally. Most realistic would be an FA Cup title defence.
G: Title is gone, hopefully a good run in Europe and defending the FA cup. Top 4 of course. It’s our birth right. Finally someone who Wenger sees as the right player to play defence.
D: Winning the Champions League.
I: Challenge for the league title.
2015 Prediction, how will Arsenal end the season?
M: 2015 is the year of the Sanchez. Hopefully the Chilean along with the likes of Ozil and Walcott will help elevate us to third place this season. Knowing us however there will be further setbacks with players and we will suffer a FA Cup semi-final exit and Quarter Final UCL exit.
N: Premier League: tight battle with Manchester United for third spot with a serious possibility that our penultimate match of the league season at Old Trafford decides which team will take the last automatic place in the Champions’ League.
S: 3rd, behind City and Chelsea. No FA Cup or UCL.
G: Top 4 and the FA cup. Champions league would be incredible but unlikely.
D: Number 2/3 with either the FA cup or Champions league…or both (I wish).
I: Third in the League and maybe semifinals in the CL. Hopefully another FA Cup win.
There you have it, a few quick favourite/worst moments from 2014 and some hopes for the year ahead. Please share some of your highlights/lowlights and ambitions below.
Happy New Year!