December 31, 2014

2014 Review

As a football fan it's easy to measure your years in seasons, as opposed to the calendar year. Today, however, Scott Sharba and myself (Steve Kessel is in Bimini, poor bastard) shall review the calendar year that was 2014 from an Arsenal point of view. As Gooners it's probably the shit things that spring to mind initially, but we might throw some positives in there too. Someone mentioned something about an FA Cup? 
So, sit back, nurse that New Years Eve hangover and enjoy as takes a look back at 2014.

By Scott Sharba
2014 has been a pretty solid year for the Arsenal. Big name signings, two trophies, and an endless amount of beautiful football. It wasn’t all butterflies and rainbows though, so I guess I'll start there.

BIG defeats
On February 8th Arsenal optimistically strolled into Anfield hoping to snag three points against an in form Liverpool side. Sadly, that is the exact opposite of what happened. Liverpool mopped the pitch with us within the first 20 minutes. That one was hard to watch. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the worst defeat to the gunners this year. The 6-0 annihilation at the hands of those oil rich scum bags (aka Chelsea) on March 22nd  was undeniably the worst day of many gooner’s lives. Thankfully Anthony Taylor provided a a bit of comedic relief by wrongfully sending off Gibbs when the OX handled the ball in the box. Hats off to you, Mr. Taylor. Moron. The 3-0 defeat to Everton on April 6th was the one that really upset me though. This is because Everton aren’t even good. So I’ll leave that one at that.

On to the good stuff! 

Goal of the year
I would have to say that Ramsey’s beelined laser rocket into the top corner against Galatasaray in our 4-1 Champions League win was Arsenal’s goal of 2014. The more I watch our Welsh midfielder’s technique for that strike, the less I understand it. What a player we have. Fingers crossed he stays a bit more fit in 2015.

Class signings
While I think Wenger dropped the ball by neglecting our defensive midfield issues, I do believe that the defensive and forward frailties were addressed quite well. Chambers, while young and fairly inexperienced, has integrated into the team seamlessly. I have been really impressed with the English youngster at full back and center back. Same goes for Debuchy. Our French warrior in the right back position looked solid filling in at center back a few times. Glad to have him back after that horrible leg break (another negative of this year), Mathieu really does add a lot of stability to the back line. Welbeck has proven to be a great signing as well, especially for the future. The 23 year old will only get better and has already shown a lot of potential. Alexis Sanchez is on another level though. To me, he is arguably the most exciting player Arsenal has had since Thierry Henry. What a signing he was/is/and will continue to be. With 10 goals and 6 assists in the league alone our Chilean has won us countless points and done it in style. 

World Cup Winners
I think people seem to forget that behind Bayern, Arsenal have the most World Cup winners in one squad. Özil, Mertesacker, and Podolski all returned to London this year with their World Cup winners medals hanging gleefully around their necks. Arsenal truly is a world class club full of world class players.

2014 has seen its ups and downs, but I consider it a success for our club. That doesn’t mean we can’t make improvements for 2015 though. I have the utmost confidence the gunners will make this another memorable year, hopefully adding trophies to the cabinet.

By Michael Clements

Kallstrom Arrives
Arsenal went into deadline day on January 31st sitting just a point behind Manchester Citeh in 2nd place. There was, unlike other deadline days, no real desperation to fill any glaring holes in the squad. The name that got all Arsenal fans in a frenzy was Julian Draxler, the 20 year old midfielder form Shalke. Don't get me wrong, he's a quality young footballer who looked (and still looks) to have plenty of potential, but hadn't we just signed Mesut Ozil who plays in essentially the same position? It's the Football Manager™ effect - we love it when big, sexy names are dangled in front of us.
The eventual climax to the January window was comparable to thinking you just got laid, only to find out you'd been shagging the pillow while your wife was passed out. Kim Kallstrom... And not only did we loan a 31 year old Swede who missed the first bunch of games of his loan through injury, but we KNEW he was injured when we loaned him, but decided to take him anyway. An epic, classic Arsenal move that would only see the beginning of our fall from grace in the league.

The Wait Is Over
The FA Cup - a tournament in which Arsenal have established a special relationship with over the years, and one that, personally holds a special place in my Red & White heart. I wasn't alive in the 70's although Charlie George laying on his back at Wembley sends shivers down my spine. Andy Linighan, with a broken nose heading the winner against Sheffield Wednesday in '93. 
Overmars and Anelka versus Newcastle in '98.
THAT goal by Ray Parlour (Romford Pele) that sat Chelski on their arses in '02, and a year later sneaking a 1-0 wine over Southampton.
The most boring FA Cup final of all time when Vieira's last kick of his Arsenal career saw us beat Man United on penalties after a 0-0 draw in 2005.
Then there was a wait... a very long wait. Nine years later and after just 8 minutes all looked to be lost as Hull City went up 2-0. Cazorla scored a stunner of a free-kick, but it was the BFG's goal that got us back into the game, allowing Ramsey (who else) to score the winner, giving us our first trophy in 9 years and potentially saving Arsene Wenger's Arsenal career.

Wenger Contract Extension
It seems apparent that you either love him or hate him at this point, but I think most will agree that the FA Cup final in May, 2014 could have been the Frenchman's final game as Arsenal manager. Many speculated throughout the 2013/14 season, as his contract came to an end, whether he was going to re-sign or not. Generally, Arsene has signed late, but this was just ridiculous. It wasn't until the final whistle had been blown and Le Boss finally got to lift his beloved FA Cup once again when he finally committed his future to Arsenal Football Club. 
It was perhaps surprising the length of the contract, considering the struggles over the last few seasons, but the general consensus seemed to be that this was the right decision for both the manager and the club. Promises of spending and future success eased the cynicism at the time, but the grumbles are getting louder yet again as 2014 draws to a close.

Arsenal In America!
I moved to the United States in 1996 and have been waiting patiently for AFC to announce a US tour. 1989 was the last time Arsenal stepped foot on American soil, so the announcement of a friendly against Thierry Henry and his New York Red Bulls was well received. I had the pleasure of attending the game with friends, and although the game wasn't a stunner, it's something special getting all those Gooners together in one place somewhere other than North London. Sure, there were a ton of Brits, but what impressed me the most was the knowledge, commitment and passion that the fans over here have for Arsenal Football Club. A fantastic fan base was realized in America and I hope the powers that be bring our boys over again soon. Detroit, anyone?

Up The Arsenal!