ABW Season in Review Part 1

Hello and welcome to the #ABW Bloggers Three Part Season Review!

As per our custom, collectively our bloggers have tackled topics like Goal of the Season, Player of the Season, and Season Turning Points. We’ve pulled all that information together and we’re sharing it this week.

Today, we bring you Part 1, which details our Match and Goal of the Season along with what we think was the Season’s Turning Point. In Part Two tomorrow, we cover our Breakout Player, Disappointing Player and Best Overall Player. Finally in Part Three, we give our overall thoughts for the season.

We hope you enjoy the series and from all of us at the #ABW Blogs, thank you for reading this year.


Match of the Season

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Arsenal 3-0 Manchester United (4.10.15)

It may not have been a ninety-minute title decider or a cup final, but my word was our home performance against United back on October 15th excellent. In truth, if I’m honest, it was our best overall team performance of the season. United fielded, on paper at least, arguably their strongest side and we responded by putting the result beyond question after just twenty minutes. Two goals from Sánchez and Özil inside the first seven minutes was the start we all craved, and Sánchez bagging his brace on twenty minutes put proceedings to bed. We were excellent throughout, back to front, left to right. Unfortunately, performances like these would end up being far too uncommon in a season where we had no excuse to not properly challenge for the title.

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Arsenal 2-1 Leicester City (14.2.16)

In the end the result didn’t prove to be as decisive as many predicted it would be at the time, but for sheer drama and entertainment it is difficult to look past this game. Arsenal looked as though they were going to fall further behind league leaders Leicester when a Jamie Vardy penalty put them one up. But then Theo Walcott struck with 20 minutes to go, before Danny Welbeck netted the winner seconds from time. I was sat in my car at the time, listening away on the radio, and the emphatic blasts of my horn are an indication of just how special this match was. A true classic.

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Arsenal 2-1 Manchester City (21.12.15)

Game of the season for me would have to be Manchester City at home. It wasn’t our best performance and it wasn’t the most appealing game to watch but it was one of those stand up and be counted games where everything seemed to be against us going into it. We’d lost Alexis, Cazorla, Coquelin and were already resigned to not seeing Jack Wilshere or Danny Welbeck for the foreseeable future. Flamini was tasked with tracking David Silva and the fear of City’s new record signing Kevin De Bruyne would combine with the lethal Sergio Agüero left us little hope of keeping our unlikely title challenge alive. It started off edgy, too, with the ball getting batted back and forth in midfield with both teams looking promising but ineffective. Then came a real heart in mouth moment, De Bruyne was put through on the right hand side and you could see thousands of people cover their mouths just for him to drag his shot wide of the left hand post, it was a let off.

It seemed like only moments later they paid for that let off as Koscielny galloped the ball out from the back as he so often does, found a lovely pass through the lines to Özil, who then found Walcott on the edge of the area who curled a fantastic shot around Hart (although Theo’s recent performances make this seem a lot longer ago than it was), and just before half time we struck again as Özil played a through ball to Giroud who stroked it under the onrushing City goalkeeper. We went from fearing the worst to an unprecedented 2-0 lead in no time. We proceeded to give a very professional performance in the second half and barring a late surge and scare from Yaya Touré’s brilliant goal it was a fantastic and well-earned victory.

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Arsenal 3-0 Manchester United (4.10.15)

Let’s try something – what’s the first game that comes to mind when you think about this past season?

For me, it’s Manchester United at home.

That was perhaps the most complete and breathtaking performance I’ve seen from the Arsenal in the Emirates years. We were incisive in attack, resolute in defence – and down to a man, played to our absolute best. It was spectacular to see our game plan unfold as we overran United’s midfield and delivered three knockout blows in the first half. Equally impressive was the way we tightened up and defended in the second half. It was the type of performance that sent a message to the league that we were capable of dismantling teams. Sadly, the game was a one-off in terms of performances this year. I genuinely hope we see some more like it next season.

OVERALL VERDICT: Arsenal 3-0 Manchester United (4.10.15)


Goal of the Season

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Mohammed Elneny v Barcelona

After going down 2-0 at home at the hands of the Catalan giants, no one on this planet could have expected us to walk into the Camp Nou and walk away without at least a slight bit of a wobble…and that’s exactly what happened. Barca was Barca and we were quite poor on the whole. The one bright spot however, was Mohammed Elneny. Not only was he our best player on the pitch on the night, but his belter from range in the fifty-first minute brought a brief moment of happiness to many. It’s the type of goal he was accustomed to scoring for his former employers in Basel, but it’s also one we are far less likely to see from him again at the club with any amount of regularity. It did however continue to show his many detractors pre-signing that he very much had the quality that we needed in midfield, one that continued to show for the rest of the domestic campaign.

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Theo Walcott v Manchester City (21.12.15)

He is undoubtedly not the most loved player at the moment, but you cannot knock Theo Walcott for this stunning strike against Manchester City. The winger received the ball just outside the left hand edge of the area, with seemingly little on. But he cut inside and wrapped a sumptuous effort past a full-stretch Joe Hart. It was a brilliant goal and one that any goalkeeper would have struggled to get near. The only regret is that the moment of brilliance from Walcott was a flash in the pan during an otherwise disappointing season.

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Danny Welbeck v Leicester (14.2.16)

It ultimately lead to nothing but I can’t look past Danny Welbeck’s winner against Leicester. I remember at the start of the season so many were yearning for him to get a real run in the first team when he came back from injury at the start of the season (HA). I was guilty of a few #Welbeck2016 tweets myself, but it wasn’t until the 14 th of February that we’d get to see him. It was 1-1 in the 83 rd minute when he came on with Arsenal throwing the kitchen sink and all the linked plumbing at Leicester’s goal without finding a way through to the winning goal. I remember it being in the last minute of injury time, seeing all 10 Leicester players behind the ball and thinking it was surely too late. The changing moment came when Wasilewski clattered into Monreal outside the area for pretty much no reason, everyone was in the box ready to attack the ball as Özil put the ball down and took a few steps back, the ball went in and Welbeck expertly glanced it on towards the corner and the Emirates erupted, I even remember the commentary from watching the video back so many times “There’s your fairytale!”, it was a fantastic moment for one of the most honest and hardworking players I can remember being in an Arsenal shirt.

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Danny Welbeck v Leicester (14.2.16)

This season was so odd – it’s hard to really pick one goal that stands above all else. If I’m honest, I’d like to choose Eden Hazard’s strike against them lot but this ain’t no Chelsea love-in! Contextually, Danny Welbeck’s return to the first team, and his injury time winner versus Leicester, stands out as one goal that really looked important at the time. I remember cheering so loudly I woke up Mrs. OG – which resulted in more chores being added to my Valentine’s Day list. Sometimes you have to distill football down to those small moments of sheer elation – and for me, there was no better high than Danny Welbeck’s goal.

OVERALL VERDICT: Danny Welbeck v Leicester (14.2.16)


Turning Point of the Season

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Santi Cazorla’s long-term injury/ Norwich City 1-1 Arsenal (29.11.15)

What a season it could have been had the diminutive playmaker not gone down with a knee injury that saw him miss a combined twenty-seven matches. Our initial response in the wake of the injury was
strong, including a win at home against City, but as time pressed on, our performances became more laborious and the pressure on Mesut Özil to be the only real source of creativity hurt the side irreversibly. A system of slow build up and possession thrives on a deep playmaker, and Aaron Ramsey, Mohammed Elneny, Mathieu Flamini nor Francis Coquelin could even come close to replacing what was lost. I for one am personally convinced that, if Cazorla stayed fit for the duration of the campaign, we would have been crowned champions.

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Santi Cazorla’s long-term injury/ Norwich City 1-1 Arsenal (29.11.15)

In all honesty you could argue that the turning point of Arsenal’s season happened before a ball was kicked during the summer, when the club failed to add a single outfield player to the ranks. However if we are looking for a moment within the campaign which had the biggest effect, then it is has to be the match with Norwich towards the end of November. The result itself wasn’t the main issue, but the fact that Alexis Sánchez and Santi Cazorla both suffered injuries. Cazorla’s knee problem kept him out for the rest of the season and his absence has been felt. Few predicted at the time the issues that would arise from the diminutive Spaniard being sidelined, but you cannot underplay how much Arsenal missed his metronomic passing. Cazorla is the heartbeat of the team, the man who makes everything tick, and had he been available who knows what might have been.

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Santi Cazorla’s long-term injury/ Norwich City 1-1 Arsenal (29.11.15)

The real turning point was the injury vs Norwich to Santi Cazorla, we chose not to invest in a defensive midfielder that could receive the ball from the centerbacks, dictate our play and take true responsibility in that area, and with Cazorla and Wilshere injured we lacked anyone to truly take on that mantle. Over-reliance of players that lack top quality was another huge reason, players who should’ve struggled to get onto our bench have been relied on to win us the Premier League. Players like Joel Campbell, Mathieu Flamini, Theo Walcott, Francis Coquelin all racked up 20+ games and none of these players should be anything more than fringe players, not regulars for large chunks of the season. After the injury to Cazorla we fought bravely for a while but ultimately the inevitable happened and we paid for our lack of quality depth.

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Santi Cazorla’s long-term injury/ Norwich City 1-1 Arsenal (29.11.15)

Novembers are traditionally unkind to us but November of 2015 left a particularly bad taste in our mouth this season. Games against Bayern Munich and Spurs preceded a bad day away to West Brom which saw us lose last season’s breakout player Francis Coquelin. We then had a must win game midweek versus Dynamo Zagreb before that fateful draw away to future Championship team Norwich. Losing Alexis and Santi in one game, compounded by the earlier injury to le Coq, left us in a bit of trouble. The subsequent run of games saw our goal production dwindle while we allowed more goals per game than before the loss of the three. For me it was Santi’s loss that was felt the most keenly as the stability and metronome in the centre of the park. The sad part is that I can’t help but feel it was avoidable – if only we’d done a bit more to strengthen in the summer transfer window.

OVERALL VERDICT: Santi Cazorla’s long-term injury/ Norwich City 1-1 Arsenal (29.11.15)


Thanks for joining us for Part 1 of our Season Review and we’ll see you back here tomorrow for Part 2.

Drew, Simon, Luke and Geoff

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