2015 was a very good year for Arsenal. The hard stats say it all: we played 38 PL games in the calendar year and won 25 of them: three more than MC, seven more than MU and eight more than Chavs. In total we gained nine more PL points than Citeh, 17 more than MU and 20 more than last season’s champions. Arsenal conceded least goals of all the PL teams: 31, compared to MC 41, MU 34 and Chavs 47.We are the second highest PL scorers in 2015 with 70 goals – MC had nine more goals but we still managed a better goal difference. And we are currently joined TOTL with Leicester.
Here are my ten highlights of the past calendar year.
- The absolute highlight was of course winning the FA Cup for a record 12th time – no other club has more FA cups than Arsenal now. We blitzed sorry Villa in the final and played some superb football with especially sexy Alexis in top form on the day. Beating MU away on our way to the final was possibly the biggest FA highlight; especially Monreal’s cool finish will not easily be forgotten.
- Finishing third to automatically qualify for the CL, followed by qualification for the last sixteen for an amazing 16th time in December were also highlights. I will never tire to appreciate our boys playing at the highest level of club football year in year out. We had a bad start against Zagreb and Olympiakos, but then we started to turn it round with a superb home win against Die Lederhosen, followed by a good home win against Zagreb and a wonderful, mature performance against the Greeks in their cauldron to get through once again.
- But just as important for me was our gradual growth during the year, becoming a stronger and more settled team. For a long time we were not able to beat our direct silverware competitors, but in 2015 we beat MU and MC, home and away, and Chavs at Wembley. Add to that our win against Bayern and the belief in the qualities of this team will only grow. We also have a first team that will grow further with many individuals yet to reach their peak years or being smack-bang in the middle of them. This team will only get better in the next 2-3 years.
- Ox’s thunderbolt against the Chavs in the Charity Shield match was another fine highlight: Wenger finally beating ME!rinho when the world was watching was just what we needed to kick-start the season.
- Cech signing for Arsenal. Ospina had done very well for us in the second half of the previous season and with Szczesny we have a talented young goalie that can mature into a very fine one, but a top team needs a solid, experienced keeper who oozes calm and class. Petr offers all of this and his PL record of clean sheets will further enhance his reputation and experience, both on the pitch and in the dressing room. I saw him live a few times but his first half performance against Liverpool at home will never be forgotten. He made some super-human saves to keep Pool somehow from scoring as the rest of our team had no answer to their superior attacking football in the first half. What a signing!
- Ozil king of assists and goal scoring opportunities. Enough has been written about the genius and importance of Mesmerizing Mesut (just check out our recent posts about him by TA and 17HT).
- Flying Spanish full backs: Nacho and Bellerin: both have come to the fore so strongly in the last 12 months. They are a menace for every opponent, especially in terms of the support they give to our attack, adding width and speed to our front players and giving us an extra dimension in the process. Hector Vector still needs to improve his defending a bit but that surely will come. They are both great, likeable professionals with an intrinsic motivation to do well for Arsenal. You gotta love them!
- The wall of CoCa: who would have thought at the end of last year that Coquelin and Cazorla would make such a fine double DM pivot for us. They found the right balance between defending and supporting the attack with Le Coq a great protector of our defence, and Cazorla a great feeder of our attackers, giving our attack that extra dimension together with Ozil.
- Sexy Alexis: he carried the team for a while with his energy and drive and crucial goals, peaking at the FA cup final with a superb display of all he has to offer. I never tire looking at him and the thought of playing him with Giroud and Theo up-front and Mesut and Rambo/Santi feeding them all makes me do one of those Jurgen Klopp mad smiles… Cech, Ozil, Alexis: three signing in three years that have helped tremendously in moving Arsenal to a higher echelon.
- Meeting up with the 17HT family in Sheffield in October. It was a dire game but to meet up with the Tiger of Tahoe, his lovely wife and son and talk proper football face to face was definitely one of my Arsenal highlights of the year. An added bonus was meeting the Sheaf family at the hotel I stayed and talking about their son’s development at the club.
These were my highlights but what are yours?