December 30, 2013

2013 Review

If the season started on January 1st, 2013 and ended December 31st, 2013 Arsenal would have been Champions. In the last calendar year of Premiership football Manchester United have lost 7 games, Man Citeh, Liverpool and Chelski have all lost 8 each. The mighty Arsenal have lost just 6 games in the past 365 days. Not too shabby.

As far as consistency, Arsenal have been the team to beat in 2013 and I'm going to take a look back at some of the years' best (and worst) memories. We may not have a trophy to show for our efforts, but we can look back and say that the last year has put us right back on track as The Arsenal we remember. 

Bayern Munich 0 - 2 Arsenal (March 13th, 2013)
This was bitter sweet, but has to be mentioned as one of the turning points in Arsenal's 2012/23 season. After a poor display at The Emirates, going down 3-1 our backs were against the wall on the trip to Germany. Goals from Giroud and Koscienly gave us a glimmer of hope, but it wasn't meant to be as we lost on away goals, yet became the first team in over a full season not to concede a goal against Bayern at their place.

Laurent Koscienly Finds His Form
I'll focus on the positive from this series of events, choosing not to harp on the fact that team captain Thomas Vermaelen eventually lost his place in the team due to poor performances. Instead we found ourselves properly introduced to the mighty french center back, Koscienly. After a couple of iffy seasons in and out of the Arsenal starting eleven, Laurent was entrusted with a starting spot ahead of the Belgian. At 27 this was his chance to prove his ability and stake a claim for a spot alongside the BFG, and not only did he keep his spot but he has proved that he is an integral part of this Arsenal team and a mainstay in our defensive unit.

Sp*rs Provide Comedic Relief
One thing I'll give the less talented team from down Seven Sisters Rd credit for is their ability to make us all laugh. Granted St. Totteringham's Day didn't come until the last day of the season, but it did eventually come, for the 18th consecutive season. 
If that wasn't enough, Gooners form around the globe watched in amazement as Sp*rs poured their money (over £100million) straight down the toilet with all the 'talent' they brought in during the summer transfer window. To add to the hilarity they lost their golden boy and monkey faced moron, Gareth Bale to Spanish giants Real Madrid. If there is a God, he's clearly wearing a Red & White shirt with a cannon on it.
To put us over the edge they then got rid of their manager (again) and replaced him with a born and raised Arsenal fan! I'm sure Sp*rs fans are going to love that. Good luck Sherwood! Wink, wink.
Currently we sit a solid 8 points above them in the table, and I can't help but think St. Totteringham's Day will be coming a lot sooner this season.

The Rise Of The Welsh Rambo
I wrote a blog earlier in the year about Aaron Ramsey's struggle over the last few years. A horrific injury put him on the side lines for almost a full year, and when he did finally return some Arsenal fans seemed to lose their patience with him as he attempted to rediscover his form. Time and simplification of his game was all he needed as he finished the 2012/13 season in fine form. Fans at The Emirates were only to be treated to more Welsh magic as he picked up right where he left off at the beginning of this season, and left £42million signing Ozil in the shadows with his outstanding performances. 
Hopefully his recent injury won't see him out for long, but I'm confident this rest will see him return with the confidence he had over the last few months.

RVP Is A Huge Knob
We had to watch the Dutch Boy George wannabe lift the Premier League trophy back in May, and have seen him net a few against us over the last year as well. We paid his astronomical salary while he sat injured on the sidelines for much of his Arsenal career, and then he has one good season, a season he owed us in my opinion, then buggered off the Manchester where there's plenty of Parachute Pants and Members Only jackets for him to choose from. While watching him achieve success at another club was painful, seeing his brittle bones and flimsy muscles disintegrate once again is oh, so joyous. The Glass Man returns. You're welcome Manchester.

Finishing The Year Top Of The League
We've spent a nice chunk of this season top of the league, and to start a new year at the top is something I didn't expect, but will enjoy as I sip my Champagne. Much was said about the depth of our squad heading into our first game on this season, but Arsene Wenger has, yet again, pulled something out of the hat. We look solid, and have strengthened a lot of the areas we have been weak in over the last 8 years. This time a year or so ago we couldn't see a game out even if we were sitting on a two goal lead with 15 minutes to go. This season we've gone 1-0 up and parked the bus, something Wenger hasn't been willing to do in the past, but has earned us some valuable points recently. Wether this is a positive or not, you be the judge, but at the end of the day you've got to be more than one dimensional and win games any way you can. 

Spend Some F***ing Money
The chants around The Emirates after we lost our first game of the season to Aston Villa were clear for all to hear. We, as Arsenal fans had been seduced with the promise of money being spent and the clubs ability to buy whoever they wanted, but when the season started we had signed a young, injury prone French striker (sound familiar?) for a couple of million and Matthieu Flamini... for free.
Less than 24 hours before the transfer window closed, and immediately following a 1-0 win over Sp*rs we were given the news that we were close to signing German International Mesut Ozil for £42million. I danced around my study like an 8 year old schoolboy, it was glorious. I could not have cared less whether it was a 'panic buy' because we had just signed a player that any team in the world would want to have on their team. This was huge, and quite frankly, still is.
I can't help but wonder whether Wenger had his hand forced a bit with this one, but credit to the manager for getting on the phone and convincing this superstar that Arsenal was the team to join. Truly one of the great moments in my life as an Arsenal fan, up there with the Bergkamp signing.

Overall, this year has restored my faith as a Gooner. Not that I would ever lose my passion for our beloved Arsenal, but things looked grim for a moment, and 2013 has gone a long way to turning things around.  If 2014 can be an improvement on 2013 then I think we're in for some special moments, brought to us by the lads in the famous Red & White. 

I know Birthday's are a time for wishes, but if instead of resolutions for the New Year can ask for a couple of things in 2014?

For the love of God will somebody please offer Bacary Sagna a new contract! Why he hasn't been signed for another couple of years yet is beyond me. He's been our most consistent player by a mile the last few years, and his form only dropped slightly when he returned from an injury that saw him break both his legs..... I don't care how old he is, he's clearly still got it, and as of right now Jenkinson isn't ready.

I'll be the first to admit I began to doubt Wenger's ability for a moment, but the Ozil signing showed us just how valuable he really is to this club. The best players in the world want to come here because of him, so another couple of years with him in his sleeping bag on the sidelines would be welcome news.

Somebody Adopt Bendtner, Please
I'll give the lad credit, he's shut his mouth and played when we've needed him this season, but he's opened his mouth far too many times and we need to move him on, quickly. The January transfer window seems ideal to me, even if we do have to shell out a few quid to get some people interested. Replace him with a decent, big forward and we've got ourselves a complete squad. I know he's the Greatest Striker That Ever Lived, but he's clearly too good for us, so may some other 2nd division team be graced with his natural talent and shitty haircut. 

2013 was also the beginning of, and it's been far more successful than I anticipated. By successful I don't mean financially, as I don't make a single penny of this thing. The success is gauged by how much fun it is to write about Arsenal and to actually have people want to read it. I wouldn't be able to find the motivation to write so frequently if it wasn't for the fact that people actually expect me to keep writing, and (I think) genuinely enjoy reading this blog. So I thank all who read this blog, and encourage you to reach out and chime in with your opinion, as this whole thing is fueled by just that, opinions. 

I hope, wherever you reside you have an even happier year than the one we are about to leave behind, and that we are all graced with beautiful football and perhaps a trophy in 2014.

Happy New Year, and Up The Arsenal!