Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Arsenal Season Review 2012/13

With the 2012/13 season now well and truly over it's time for me to look back at how Arsenal fared.

In my preview of the season back in August or September I stated that I couldn't see the Arsenal squad competing for the league title and so it proved. I also said that their games against the contenders for the title could prove crucial if they were to have any chance and they only took two points from the six games against United, City and Chelsea. I thought a Champions League berth might be the height of the league ambitions and they managed to secure a spot in the final qualifying round on the last day of the season.

Of course none of those predictions were exactly rocket science as the squad strength or lack of was there for all to see. I had hoped for a good run in one of the domestic cup competitions, but they both ended in bitter disappointment. Arsene Wenger's Arsenal don't lose to lower league opposition almost as a rule, but the defeats to Bradford and Blackburn were severe blows.

Both the Capital One Cup and the FA Cup were there to be won but very poor performances against those two teams made sure it wasn't Arsenal who won them. The season will be remembered as the season where both Swansea and Wigan won their first real football honours. Maybe continuation in either of those competitions would have taken from Arsenal's goal of a top four finish, but the chance of silverware was given up too easily in my opinion.

The league run the team went on from February 1st was probably the most impressive aspect of the season. They only lost one match between then and the end of the season and collected more points than any other team in that time. It's probably no coincidence that the lack of cup games left the players a lot fresher towards the end of the season and enabled them to finish so strongly.

That strong finish cannot be seen as a sign that the team or squad are strong enough and just took some time to get into their stride after all of last summer's comings and goings. Now is the time for Arsenal to splash the cash and build on a promising finish to the season by bringing in some real quality. I don't want to be writing the season preview for next season with no real hope of the team challenging for the league title yet again.

Last summers purchases were all very good and I was delighted to see Santi Cazorla, Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud arrive. The departures of Robin van Persie and Alex Song countered those moves and left the squad looking pretty similar in strength to how it had looked when the season ended. Van Persie's move to United really hurt and to see him finish the season as the top scorer in the Premier League and lift the league trophy only made it feel even worse.

Whether Arsenal fans believe he left for footballing or financial reasons his version of his reasons for leaving have been proved right. I still don't know myself but I do know that he will never be considered a legend at Arsenal and he can never have been a real Arsenal fan. Real fans do not desert their their club no matter what.

At the start of the season it seemed like Theo Walcott's exit from the club was inevitable too as his contract grew closer to it's end. He was offered a new contract and all the signs were he was going to wait until this summer and leave on a free contract. Thankfully he did sign a new contract in January and although his form dipped after that he managed to rediscover it during the crucial run in.

I'm still not completely convinced by Walcott but last season was certainly his best one for Arsenal. He still frustrates at times but his finishing is pretty good and he gets his fair share of goals from a wide right role. He's neither a winger or a striker but if he can build on the season he has just had the team could reap the benefits.

There were a few highlights during the season of course and the 5-2 home win over Spurs was definitely one of those. It's always good to beat Arsenal's local rivals and to put five past them for the second season in a row was a great feeling. Beating them to the last Champions League spot was great too and the traditional celebration of St. Totteringham's Day is always one to celebrate.

The 2-0 win away to Bayern Munich in the last 16 of the Champions League was another one considering what Bayern managed this season. It may not have been quite enough to put Arsenal through to the last eight but it was the catalyst for the team to finish in the top four of the league. 

The performance of the Arsenal defence over the season was another highlight for me. When Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny were paired together in the centre of the defence it seemed to be the missing link which was needed. Only Manchester City conceded less goals in the league than Arsenal and hopefully that defensive strength can be built on next season.

If I had to choose a player of the season I don't think I would need to look any further than Santi Cazorla. He had an excellent season for his first season in the Premier League and chipped in with plenty of goals and assists. He played far more through balls to set up team mates than any other player in the league and would have had far more assists if other players had finished better. I was very impressed with Merresacker too with both Walcott and Mikael Arteta deserving a mention too. 

After the departure of Van Persie last summer the three new signings all chipped in with plenty of goals. The team were far too dependant on Van Persie's goals the previous season but when he left others stepped up and took the responsibility on their shoulders. hOpefully those that come in this summer can do equally as well if not better.

Of course there were low points too and those domestic cup exits I mentioned were very low ones. The teams complete inability to open up opposing defences in some games was another one and the paltry return from the games against the teams who finished above Arsenal was another. The team never got a hiding on the scoreboard from any team, but they failed to show up too often for my liking.

Overall the season delivered exactly what it promiosed which was a top four finish and little else besides. there were moments of drama along the way of course and at times it looked like it all might be falling apart. after two years of top players being sold and no progression for the team it's time for Arsenal to become a force again.

The manager has to be the one who creates that change and it has to do it with real investment in the squad this summer. If I'm sitting here this time next year saying it was another season which was written off before it started I have my doubts if Arsene Wenger will still be at the helm. I hope he is because that will surely mean very real progress and Arsenal will have been genuine challangers.

I'm not looking for guaranteed trophies as it's impossible to guarantee anything in football, but I do want my team to compete with the best and not just struggle along yet again. I don't think that's too much to ask and I hope the club can deliver.

That's it for today.

See you tomorrow.


  1. Yawn... and next season you'll same the same thing all over again.

  2. You could be right but I really hope not.