2013/14 Season Review: Near Miss in the League, Cup Glory at Last!
With Sir Alex Ferguson retiring at the end of the 2012/13 season, it was going to be very interesting to see who was going to take over what was left of the Premier League. With Arsene Wenger taking the title of the longest serving manager in the League, there were some transitions as Manuel Pellegrini, Jose Mourinho and David Moyes all took roles in their respective clubs.
The 2013/14 season was a roller-coaster ride as it promised so much and like previous seasons, it all crumbled. But Arsenal fans can take solace in the fact that the final game of the season was rewarded with what everyone concerned with the club craved – a trophy.
In a chronological order, I present to you an entire review of the season revealing my take of the match, goal, save and player of each month from August 2013 to May 2014.
You may not agree with my pick but feel free to share yours with your comments.
After a rather unsuccessful Emirates Cup, Arsenal began the season poorly with a home defeat to Aston Villa and all Hell broke loose. A comfortable win over Fulham was sandwiched in between a double-legged affair against Fenerbahce. Victory against the Turkish outfit guaranteed Arsenal Champions League football for hte 16th consecutive season.
August Match of the Month
Fulham 1 Arsenal 3 (Giroud, Podolski (2)): With the Gunners losing their opening Premier League encounter, it was vital for them to get back on track. An early goal for Giroud and two bullets from Podolski were enough to put Fulham to the sword. Sadly enough, Podolski tore his hamstring later in the month.
August Goal of the Month
Podolski against Fulham: In the midst of a fully crowded box, the German with a Thor’s Hammer of a left foot blasted a shot that breezed past Stokedale.
August Save of the Month
Wojciech Szczesny against Fenerbahce: With Fenerbahce thrashed 3-0 in Turkey, they arrived at the Emirates with literally nothing to play for. However, a moment arrived when Emmanuel Emenike bore in on goal and blasted a shot that was superbly saved by Szczesny.
August Player of the Month
Aaron Ramsey: With a good preseason under his belt, Ramsey rose to prominence and he had his scoring touch as he smashed in three goals. He also add more steel to his game making him an all-rounder.
Arsenal began September with a sweet victory over free-spending Tottenham and the world was shocked to witness the acquisition of Mesut Ozil on transfer deadline day. The Aaron Ramsey show took center stage as he shone the brightest in the games against Sunderland, Marseille, Stoke and Swansea. The fringe players and youngsters were given a chance in the Capital One Cup encounter against West Brom but the Gunners had to rely on the lottery of penalties.
September Match of the Month
Arsenal 1 Tottenham 0 (Giroud): Despite the fact that the game didn’t have a mammoth scoreline, registering a win over AVB and his new-look squad had a nice feel about it. Besides, there was nothing better than getting some bragging rights over the old enemy.
September Goal of the Month
Giroud against Tottenham: If the build up to the goal could make a man horny, the finish by Giroud was certainly orgasmic. It was a goal that got better with each passing replay.
September Save of the Month
Szczesny against Tottenham: With Spurs trailing, they fought tooth and nail to get an equalizer but it wasn’t forthcoming. Then came a moment when Jermaine Defoe’s shot deflected Szczesny and caught him off guard, but somehow, the Pole still managed to make an unorthodox save of life.
September Player of the Month
Aaron Ramsey: With the rate at which Ramsey was scoring for fun, it was a no-brainer when he won the Barclays Premier League Player of the Month award for September.
October would certainly be remembered as the month Ozil opened his goalscoring account for the club and it’s fair to say that the goal was worth the wait. Arsenal’s seven-game winning streak was halted by a resilient West Brom but the Gunners went back to winning ways with victories over Norwich and Crystal Palace. However, the month was marred by two back to back home defeats to Dortmund and Chelsea.
October Match of the Month
Arsenal 4 Norwich 1 (Ozil (2), Wilshere, Ramsey): On a fine afternoon at the Emirates, it was a midfield masterpiece that settled the proceedings to send the Gunners to the summit of the Premier League.
October Goal of the Month
Jack Wilshere against Norwich: Wilshere instigated the attack from Arsenal’s half, evaded a marker then passed the ball to Gibbs on his far left. The English fullback swiftly fed Cazorla and the diminutive magician darted inwards then teed up Giroud who in turn flicked the ball to an onrushing Wilshere. With the ball still in motion, Wilshere flicked it back to Giroud and the Frenchman returned the favor with another exquisite flick and that scintillating buildup matched the finish as Wilshere side-footed the ball past a hapless Ruddy.
October Save of the Month
Wojciech Szczesny against Crystal Palace: With the Gunners grabbing the lead through a Mikel Arteta penalty, the captain’s red card put his team in a precarious situation. With Crystal Palace searching for a goal, Mila Jedinak blasted a sweet volley that was odds on to smash the net. Up stepped Szczesny to make a spectacular save.
October Player of the Month
Aaron Ramsey: In a month where Mesut Ozil and Olivier Giroud scored vital goals that aided the team’s cause, Ramsey was still the man that was making things tick and his goal against Norwich was unbelievable as he left a couple of defenders for dead before blasting the ball past Ruddy.
Traditionally, November is usually regarded as a bogey month for the Gunners but Arsene Wenger’s army swept Liverpool, Dortmund, Southampton, Marseille and Cardiff aside. The only low point of the month was losing to a piss-poor Manchester United side with a goal scored from the bloke with a little boy inside him.
November Match of the Month
Arsenal 2 Liverpool 0 (Cazorla, Ramsey): Liverpool arrived at the Emirates in a rich vein of form as the media waxed lyrical about the famous “S.A.S” combo. When they arrived at the Emirates, they were locked in a cage and the keys were thrown away while Santi Cazorla and Aaron Ramsey showed S.A.S how goals were meant to be scored.
November Goal of the Month
Aaron Ramsey against Liverpool: The Welsh Messi waited for the ball to have a couple of bounces before he launched a surface-to-goal missile that went past Simon Mignolet before he could even attempt to reach the ball.
November Save of the Month
Wojciech Szczesny against Dortmund: The Gunners may have visited the Signal Iduna Park and may have gotten all three points but it was due to the clinical finishing of Ramsey, hard work from the lads and some excellent goalkeeping from Szczesny. His save from Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s volley was worth noting as well.
November Player of the Month
Aaron Ramsey: The red-hot Welsh goalscoring machine of the first kind blasted in four goals in the course of the month and many fans started harboring thoughts of him going all the way for the Player of the Season award if he continued in this vein, despite the fact that it was only November.
Arsenal had a poor run of results in December as the month began with a win over Hull but stinging defeats to Manchester City in the Premier League and more importantly, Napoli in the Champions League, were to have detrimental effect to the team. There were also some unwanted draws at home to Chelsea and Everton with the best result coming up against West Ham, the game the Gunners lost their talisman to injury.
December Match of the Month
West Ham 1 Arsenal 3 (Walcott (2), Podolski): In a game that would be unfortunately remembered for Ramsey’s thigh injury, Arsenal had a super sub in the form of Lukas Podolski to thank as he made an immediate impact in the game to swing it into Arsenal’s favour.
December Goal of the Month
Theo Walcott against Manchester City: Some would say that the game against Manchester City had a “tennis scoreline” but Walcott’s second goal was perfectly placed in the top corner giving Costel Pantillimon no chance whatsoever.
December Save of the Month
Wojciech Szczesny against Newcastle: It was another game where a top-drawer save was the difference between three points and one. Tim Krul was unable to keep Giroud’s header out but Szczesny reacted superbly to save Moussa Sissoko’s goal-bound shot.
December Player of the Month
Per Mertesacker: Theo Walcott earned many plaudits for his goalscoring return on his road to full fitness but in my honest opinion, Per Mertesacker was a colossus at the back for the Gunners.
2014 began on a positive note with the Gunners getting a vital victory over Cardiff. More wins against Tottenham, Aston Villa, Fulham and Coventry were admirable, but the creditable draw against Southampton wasn’t bad as well.
January Match of the Month
Arsenal 2 Tottenham 0 (Cazorla, Rosicky): Getting a chance to knock Tottenham out early in the FA Cup was a task the Gunners felt the need to oblige. Goals from Cazorla and Rosicky settled it.
January Goal of the Month
Rosicky against Tottenham: The Czech maestro capitalized on an error from Danny Rose to run the length of the pitch before chipping a hapless Hugo Lloris.
January Save of the Month
Szczesny against Southampton: Szczesny made an unbelievable save after Nacho Monreal’s ball watching allowed Gallagher to blast the ball at goal from six yards.
January Player of the Month
Santi Cazorla: The diminutive magician had a rather hot and cold campaign but he was on fire in January scoring five goals.
As the title race reached the business end, Arsenal began the month on a high win a win against Crystal Palace but the 5-1 thrashing at Anfield was a very bitter pill to swallow. A goalless stalemate against Manchester United was followed up with some measure of revenge against Liverpool in the FA Cup. Bayern spoiled the party at the Emirates but a resounding victory over Sunderland wrapped up the month.
February Match of the Month
Arsenal 4 Sunderland 1 (Giroud (2), Rosicky, Koscielny): With Giroud’s extra-marital issues taking center stage, he lost his place in the team to the inexperienced Yaya Sanogo in a Champions League first leg against Bayern. On his return to the first team, he bagged a brace against Sunderland while Rosicky scored a goal that was reminiscent of Wilshere’s strike in October.
February Goal of the Month
Tomas Rosicky against Sunderland: A well executed team move was deservedly rounded up by Rosicky as he latched on to Giroud’s pass to perform a delicate over Mannone.
February Save of the Month
Wojciech Szczesny against Bayern: Shortly before his sending off for a foul on light feathered Arjen Robben, Szczesny made a magnificent save from a Toni Kroos shot.
February Player of the Month
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain: The Ox had suffered a knee injury in August that sidelined him for months but he picked some form in February and scored a well-taken brace against Crystal Palace.
The horrid month of March began with a defeat to Stoke that saw the Gunners relinquish their stronghold on the Premier League. An FA Cup win over Everton was marred by being knocked out from the Champions League after the damage had been done in the first leg. A third win over Tottenham in the season was followed with a horrifying 6-0 decimation in the hands of Chelsea. Two draws followed that to crown a horrible month for the Gunners.
March Match of the Month
Tottenham 0 Arsenal 1 (Rosicky):
All it took was a brilliant Rosicky finish early on to settle the contest at White Hart Lane. Then there was time for that selfie that went viral.
March Goal of the Month
Tomas Rosicky against Tottenham: Little Mozart raced to the ball and unleashed an unstoppable volley that darted past Lloris with consummate ease.
March Save of the Month
Lukasz Fabianski against Bayern Munich: With Szczesny getting a red card in the first leg, it was a classic case of deja vu as Fabianski found himself at the Allainz Arena again serving as the custodian between the sticks. He must have been disappointed to see Bastian Schweinsteiger’s shot go in but at least he can take some solace in the fact that he stopped Thomas Muller’s penalty.
March Player of the Month
Tomas Rosicky: In a relatively poor month for the Gunners, Rosicky was one of those players that stood out from the crowd.
Like March, April started on he wrong foot as the Gunners were swept aside be a rampant Everton and they were usurped from fourth place, albiet temporarily. From there on the Gunners recorded recorded routine wins over West Ham, Hull and Newcastle before requiring penalties to win Wigan in the FA Cup semis.
April Match of the Month
Arsenal 1 Wigan 1 (Mertesacker): With the Latics beating Manchester City, they were in giant killing mood and they were just eight minutes away from another FA Cup final. However, Per Mertesacker got the equalizer that sent his team into extra time before Fabianski’s heroics put him on the spotlight.
April Goal of the Month
Giroud against West Ham: Thomas Vermaelen launched a ball into orbit and it was controlled magnificently by Giroud before blasting the ball through the keeper’s legs.
April Save of the Month
Lukasz Fabianski against Wigan: With the Gunners relying on the lottery of a penalty shootout to get to the FA Cup final, the penalty takers did their jobs superbly and Fabianski did his.
April Player of the Month
Lukas Podolski: The German had been on the fringes but he was getting a decent run out in the team and he rewarded his manager’s faith with four goals.
Unlike the previous season where the Gunners went into the month of May looking over their backs to see Tottenham breathing down their necks, Everton’s shortcomings made the final league fixtures have a pre-season feel about them but the Gunners still beat West Brom and Norwich anyway. However, the game of the season was at Wembley and the Gunners came from two nil down to win 3-2. That’s how to win a Cup final.
May Match of the Month
Arsenal 3 Hull 2 (Cazorla, Koscielny, Ramsey): With Hull shockingly scoring two goals in the opening stages of the game, an upset looked on the cards but goals from Cazorla, Koscielny and Ramsey helped Arsenal win their first trophy in nine years. The parade of 250,000 fans showed how much the trophy meant to the fans.
May Goal of the Month
Aaron Ramsey against Norwich: Just when we thought that the game was turning out into a stalemate, Giroud dinked a cross to the far post and Arsenal’s knight in shining armor, Aaron Ramsey, picked his spot and fired a sumptuous volley that gave Ruddy no chance in Hell.
May Save of the Month
Lukasz Fabianski against Hull: Conceding those early goals must have hurt Fabianski’s confidence but as the game progressed, he asserted his dominance. He showed his good concentration levels when he dived to smother Sone Aluko’s fierce drive at goal.
May Player of the Month
Aaron Ramsey: Saved his best for last and stepped up when Arsenal needed him the most. The goal that secured the FA Cup final. Priceless.
It doesn’t get any better than that.
This was certainly a season we’ll struggle to forget. We had a near miss in the Premier League but at least, there was Cup glory at long last!
My 2012/13 End of Season Awards come up next
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