In the last 7 seasons Arsenal have gone without a trophy, there have been many moments of despair – the sale of a number of world-class stars and captains, the horrific injuries suffered by key players, and the shackling of the manager’s transfer spending ability by the building of a new stadium all foreshadowed the gradual decline of a club that used to be one of the best in the world.
Gooners, brace yourselves...
1) Bradford 1-1 Arsenal (3-2 pen) – League Cup Quarter Final (2012/13)
Last night’s Capital One Cup at the hands of a League Two team, three divisions below them marked the club’s worst ever season under Arsene Wenger.
The Gunners were toothless, listless and gutless - they were found wanting all over the pitch. Their captain Thomas Vermaelen, who missed the final penalty was one of the worst offenders, his leadership qualities dwarfed in comparison to his 21-year-old teammate Jack Wilshere who is entitled to feel very very let down by a number of his teammates – most of whom are experienced internationals on wages over £50K a week on average.
The defeat now leaves the manager’s position at the club being seriously questioned.
2) Manchester United 8-2 Arsenal – Premier League (2011/12)
Having sold both Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri, Wenger fielded a substantially weakened team consisting of a number of inexperienced players (Carl Jenkinson, Francis Coquelin) in what was their most severe and humiliating numerical defeat under the Frenchman’s reign, to one of their most bitter rivals.
Wenger failed to change his system at all in the match, leaving the North Londoners exposed – it was in many ways, a masochistic formation which the United attack took full advantage of – the gulf in quality between the two side’s had never been so apparent in Wenger’s tenure.
3) Birmingham 2-1 Arsenal – League Cup Final (2010/2011)
Although they were the undoubted favourites to win the League Cup and their 5-year trophy drought, the Gunners were the architects of their own downfall – at 1-1 as they searched for a winner, a miscommunication between young goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny and defender Laurent Koscielny saw Birmingham take the lead in the 89th minute, too late for Arsenal to mount a comeback.
The North Londoners’ trophy complex had been bubbling under the surface for 5 years and, in that moment, became a mental weakness amongst both the players and the manager.
4) Arsenal 2-3 Tottenham Hotspur – Premier League (2010/11)
Arsenal were 2-0 up at half-time against their most hated rivals in the North London derby in front 60,000 of their home fans.
In the second half, the Gunners fell completely apart as Gareth Bale, Rafael van der Vaart, and Luka Modric of Spurs dealt them a lesson in commitment, determination and conviction.
The home fans fell silent on the final whistle, as their rivals rapturous cheers resounded around the Emirates.
Another prime example of Arsenal’s lack of killer instinct, diligence, passion and of their worsening defensive frailties.
5) Barcelona 2-1 Arsenal – Champion’s League Final (2005/06)
I think this may well have been the where it all began. This was the first step on the road to their current position.
They had reached the Champion’s League Final – they had got themselves 1-0 up via Sol Campbell in the 37th minute, on the stroke of half-time and, despite having their goalkeeper Jens Lehman sent off in after 18 minutes they had managed to keep Barca at bay for most of the game.
With just 14 minutes separating them from being crowned champions of Europe, Samuel Eto’o clinched a late equalizer and it looked as though they were headed for extra-time. But in the 81st minute Juliano Belletti scored the winner and the rest, as they say, was history.
image: © wonker