Arsenal 2011/12 Season Review: Part 2
Picking up from were I left off, here’s the sequel to my review of the season.
Arsenal kicked off 2012 on the wrong foot with a stinging defeat right at the death to Fulham. Thierry Henry graced the Emirates with a fairytale moment when he came off the bench to score a match -winning goal against Leeds in the FA Cup. Two quick-fire defeats against Swansea and Manchester United followed, unleashing Hell in the process.
The fans wanted the manager’s head on a plate but the team’s misery was almost compounded by Aston Villa. However, the Villans plan was thrawted by a valiant second half performance. The Gunners ended the month with a boring stalemate against Bolton.
January Match of the Month
Arsenal 1 Leeds 0 (Henry): Arsenal huffed and puffed for the best part of a hour before Thierry Henry graced the pitch yet again for his “second debut”. Ten minutes after entering the pitch, Henry received a brilliant pass from Song and placed his effort past the goalie.
It’s fair to say that the Emirates went into raptures.
January Goal of the Month
Thierry Henry against Leeds: In a moment of never-ending 12s, Alex Song fed Henry with 12 minutes remaining, the legend scored his 12th goal against Leeds in 12 appearances wearing number 12 on his Arsenal shirt in 2012.
The trademark sidefooted curler was a goal made in dreams and the Gooners celebrated like they had won the FA Cup..
January Save of the Month
The month of January was pretty poor from a goalkeeping perspective. I can’t think of any stand-out save.
January Player of the Month
Laurent Koscielny: Injuries to the regular fullbacks took its toll on the squad but Laurent Koscielny’s performances were eye-catching to say the least.
Arsenal rained goals past Blackburn in the start of the month and Thierry Henry gave the Gunners a befitting Premier League farewell gift in the win over Sunderland. Gloomy times arrived again after consecutive losses to AC Milan and Sunderland (FA Cup) but the Gunner began a resurgence with an epic 5-2 victory over Tottenham.
February Match of the Month
Arsenal 5 Tottenham 2 (Sagna, van Persie, Rosicky, Walcott (2) ): Arsenal overturned a potential 13-point deficit to kick-start a run that saw them leapfrog Tottenham to third place. The Spuds were two nil up when Bacary Sagna drifted infield to power in a header that created the spark needed for a revival. Robin van Persie, Tomas Rosicky and Theo Walcott also got in the act.
February Goal of the Month
Robin van Persie against Tottenham: Benoit Assou-Ekoto sent a panicky clearance that arrived at van Persie’s feet. Surrounded by Spuds, Arsenal’s talisman still managed to find some space before curling the ball sweetly past Friedel.
February Player of the Month
Mikel Arteta: The Spaniard stepped into the fray to become a key figurehead in Arsenal’s midfield. While Song forayed forward, he maintained the team’s balance and joined the party when Arsenal became one of the 7-1ders of the Premier League against Blackburn.
Arsenal “marched” on like soldiers taking on every enemy, coming out triumphant in the end. The month started with a Robin van Persie inspired 2-1 victory over Liverpool and it was followed by a scintillating display against AC Milan. Newcastle, Everton and Aston Villa were also brushed aside but the Gunners were humbled by Queens Park Rangers.
March Match of the Month
Arsenal 3 AC Milan 0 (Koscielny, Rosicky, van Persie): The Gunners made things difficult for themselves in the 4-0 loss suffered at San Siro. However, the display against AC Milan at the Emirates gave the fans a sense of pride and for once, defeat had never tasted so good.
March Goal of the Month
Robin van Persie against Liverpool: Arsenal was on the back foot for a large chunk of the game but van Persie became the difference between a point and three points when he connected well with Alex Song’s sumptuous pass to volley the ball home late on.
March Save of the Month
Wojciech Szczesny against Liverpool: Luis Suarez deceived the ref to win a fictitious penalty but Szczesny was on hand to save Dirk Kuyt’s penalty. Kuyt went for the follow-up but Szczesny covered some distance to parry the ball to safety.
March Player of the Month
Theo Walcott: The young winger went on a very consistent run that saw him get his fair share of assists as well as a couple of goals. His performance against Newcastle was epic.
The month of April had a good beginning but a very shaky ending. Manchester City’s title aspirations were put in jeopardy after a Mikel Arteta piledriver dent a serious dent in their hopes. They put up a professional performance to outfox Wolves but Wigan to London to silence the Emirates faithful.
Two nervy draws against Chelsea and Stoke followed and the race for third place intensified.
April Match of the Month
Arsenal 1 Manchester City 0 (Arteta): Arsenal had disappointed their expectant fans against QPR and a response was needed against Manchester City. Arsenal defined perfection that evening and the team’s collective effort was rewarded with a moment of brilliance from Mikel Arteta.
April Goal of the Month
Mikel Arteta against Manchester City: Arteta scored his eight goal of the campaign (two for Blackburn) wearing his Number 8 jersey in the 88th minute against Manchester City. It was a surface-to-goal rocket that almost handed the title to Manchester United, before they fluffed their chance.
April Save of the Month
Wojciech Szczesny against Wolves: Wolves enjoyed a brief spell of possession and some intricate passing in Arsenal’s danger area saw Matt Jarvis swing a cross that was headed goalwards by Kevin Doyle. Up stepped Wojciech Szczesny to add another spectacular save to his impressive collection.
April Player of the Month
Laurent Koscielny: Kos the Boss was in great form in April, shadowing his defensive partner, Thomas Vermaelen, in the process. The defender was unlucky not to hit the back of the net when his header hit the cross bar against Chelsea.
The climax to the Premier League season brought fits of anxiety, fear and the prospect of playing Europa League football, from an Arsenal perspective. The Gunners relinquished third spot with a draw against Norwich but their fellow Champions League contenders failed to capitalize on their shortcomings.
However, Arsenal had the last laugh against West Brom (courtesy of Martin Fulop’s howlers) and celebrated St. Tottenringham’s day with the outgoing stalwart and true Arsenal legend, Pat Rice.
May Match of the Month
West Brom 2 Arsenal 3 (Benayoun, Andre Santos, Koscielny): Arsenal knew what was at stake but they made hearts pump faster with their shaky performance against West Brom. I wonder what the outcome would have been if Ben Foster kept in goal.
Nonetheless, it was three goals scored, three points gained and third place secured.
May Goal of the Month
Yossi Benayoun against Norwich: Early on, Benayoun took the ball, shimmied past some defenders before curling the ball superbly into John Ruddy’s goal.
May Save of the Month
Kieran Gibbs against West Brom: Keepers usually receive accolades for stunning saves week in week out, but when you make a “save” with your feet worth it’s weight in gold, or £30m to be precise, you deserve a honorable mention.
April Player of the Month
Yossi Benayoun: Saved his best for last and stepped up when Arsenal needed him the most. Scored two crucial goals in May.
This was certainly a season we’ll struggle to forget.
My 2011/12 End of Season Awards come up next
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