Arsenal’s 2014/15 Season Review: Frustrating Start, Fantastic Finish
This is a season Arsenal fans won’t forget quickly. There were the high-profile departures of Bacary Sagna, Thomas Vermaelen and Lukasz Fabianski but in came some players of immense quality like Alexis Sanchez, Danny Welbeck, Calum Chambers, David Ospina and Mathieu Debuchy.
The team’s challenge for the Premier League title ended rather prematurely due to the team’s poor start to the campaign. They were shoved out of the Capital One Cup by Southampton before they could even mount a challenge, there was more heartbreak in the Champions League as the Gunners got knocked out of the First Knockout round in the hands of Monaco but there was silverware at the end of the season as the defending FA Cup champions retained their 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 to May.
You may not agree with my pick but feel free to share yours with your comments.
Arsenal kicked its competitive campaign with a narrow late win over Crystal Palace before seeing off the threat of Besiktas in the Champions League playoff phase. However, there were disappointing draws away to Everton and Leicester.
August Match of the Month
Arsenal 1 Besiktas 0 (Sanchez): Wilshere strode forward with the ball before feeding a pass to Sanchez but the Chilean’s poor first touch allowed the ball to go beyond his control. However, Sanchez was to have the last laugh as he latched on to a loose ball to side foot the ball home from another attack instigated by Wilshere.
August Goal of the Month
Sanchez against Besiktas: The importance of this goal cannot be overemphasized. It made the Gunners qualify for the Champions League group stage.
August Save of the Month
Wojciech Szczesny against Leicester: Wojciech Szczesny made a great save to stop Riyad Mahrez from scoring.
August Player of the Month
Calum Chambers: Injuries paved the way for young Chambers to get an extended run of games but he was awesome in his performances at center back.
Arsenal began September with a home draw against Manchester City before losing their opening Champions League game to Dortmund. A win against Aston Villa was followed with exit from the Capital One Cup thanks to Southampton. The Gunners ended the month with a draw against their fierce rivals, Tottenham, in the North London derby.
September Match of the Month
Aston Villa 0 Arsenal 3 (Ozil, Welbeck, Cissokho own goal): In a blitz, Arsenal smashed in three quickfire goals against Aston Villa to see off the threat Paul Lambert’s side showed. The Gunners grabbed the lead when Welbeck split the defense with a neat pass to Mesut Ozil that placed the ball past Brad Guzan. Ozil turned from scorer to provider in typical fashion as he latched on to Cazorla’s pass to feed Welbeck that opened his Arsenal goalscoring account with a blasted effort into an unguarded net. Two goals changed to three almost immediately when Kieran Gibbs fired a tame shot that was deflected into the net by Aly Cissokho.
September Goal of the Month
Alexis Sanchez against Manchester City: Alexis showed off his amazing technique with a superb side-footed placed effort that waltzed past Joe Hart in goal.
September Save of the Month
Szczesny against Manchester City: David Silva’s sleek movement saw him come clean on goal with the Polish shot stopper but Szczesny made himself big to make a great save.
September Player of the Month
Alexis Sanchez: The Chilean hot shot settled into life quickly at North London and his high-octane performances made him win the award player of the month.
The month of October began with a Danny Welbeck-inspired 4-1 demolition of Galatasaray but it was followed with yet another defeat to Jose Mourinho and his Chelsea hordes. The Gunners left it late to grab a point at home to Hull and they ended the month with two wins on the bounce against Anderlecht and Sunderland.
October Match of the Month
Arsenal 4 Galatasaray 1 (Welbeck (3), Sanchez): Arsenal pegged the Turks when a diagonal Kieran Gibbs was met by Danny Welbeck and the quick English forward poked the ball through Fernando Muslera’s legs. Welbeck doubled his money when he showed great determination to get the ball on his stride before placing the ball past Muslera in goal. Arsenal picked up where they left off with Alexis Sanchez latching unto Ozil’s pass before placing the ball past Muslera to make it three. Welbeck got his moment of glory as he converted Oxlade-Chamberlain’s sumptuous pass before dinking the ball over Muslera for his first hat-trick in Arsenal colors.
October Goal of the Month
Welbeck against Galatasaray: The former Manchester United forward showed great determination and technique to slot the ball past Muslera. That was his finest night in Arsenal colors.
October Save of the Month
Szczesny against Aston Villa: Tom Cleverley lofted a ball that was headed goalwards from point-blank range by Ciaran Clark. Szczesny reacted magnificently to make a superb save.
October Player of the Month
Alexis Sanchez: With four goals in the month of October, Alexis was the hottest thing in the club in the month of October.
The start of the month was a rather routine win against Burnley before that embarrassing draw at home to Anderlecht. Swansea and Manchester United compiled Arsenal’s misery with back to back defeats. The Gunners recovered from that blip with wins over Dortmund and West Brom.
November Match of the Month
Arsenal 2 Dortmund 0 (Sanogo, Sanchez): Many fans watched as Yaya Sanogo led the line and before we go ready the torches and pitchforks to wail about why Lukas Podolski wasn’t given a run out, it took Sanogo just 73 seconds to finally open his Arsenal goalscoring account with a nice toe-poke that went through Roman Weidenfeller’s legs. The match clincher arrived when the inhumane Alexis Sanchez was at it again, latching onto a Cazorla pass and sweetly curling the ball past Weidenfeller. That was his ninth goal in eight games for club and country.
November Goal of the Month
Sanchez against Dortmund: Alexis curled in a sweet effort to put the game against Dortmund beyond doubt.
November Save of the Month
Szczesny against Swansea: The dangerous Jefferson Montero had a great game against Calum Chambers and he fired a shot that almost beat Szczesny in his near post but Szczesny responded well to make a great save.
November Player of the Month
Alexis Sanchez: With five goals scored for the club in November, it was a no-brainer on the winner of the award. Alexis Sanchez.
Arsenal began December with a narrow win over Southampton and suffered a slump with a defeat to Stoke. Arsene Wenger’s men responded well with back to back 4-1 victories over Galatasaray and Newcastle but they couldn’t hold on at Anfield as the Reds scored an injury-time equalizer. The Gunners finished the month with narrow wins over QPR and West Ham.
December Match of the Month
Arsenal 4 Newcastle 1 (Giroud (2), Cazorla (2)): In a splendid evening at the Emirates, two goals from Giroud and Cazorla were enough to hand the Gunners victory against the Magpies.
December Goal of the Month
Ramsey against Galatasaray: The corner was swung in and was headed to safety by some random bloke but as it fell into Ramsey’s path, the Welsh Jesus used his weaker left foot to arrow a piledriver into the top corner. The goal was so magnificent even some sections of home crowd were on their feet applauding what they just saw. That goal at least deserves a nomination in the next Puskas award.
December Save of the Month
Wojciech Szczesny against Liverpool: Lazar Markovic must have thought that he had done enough to get a goal for the Reds but Szczesny had other ideas. It was a truly superb stop from the goalie.
December Player of the Month
Santi Cazorla: The Spanish magician rose to prominence in the month of December and he scored four goals that helped his team’s cause.
2015 started on the wrong foot with the Gunners putting up a poor performance against Southampton which was followed with a FA Cup third round win against last season’s finalists, Hull. The Gunners pounded Stoke at home before securing a priceless away victory against Manchester City. This was followed win a narrow win against Brighton and the decimation of Aston Villa.
January Match of the Month
Arsenal 5 Aston Villa 0 (Giroud, Ozil, Walcott, Cazorla, Bellerin): Let’s just say it was a game where everything, as in everything, went according to what was written in the script.
January Goal of the Month
Giroud against Aston Villa: Mesut Ozil proved his brilliance with the deftest of touches to Giroud and the Frenchman matched the finish that the assist deserved.
January Save of the Month
Ospina against Aston Villa: The Colombian ensured that his clean sheet stayed intact with a good save from Lee Westwood late on.
January Player of the Month
Santi Cazorla: The midfielder carried his good form in December into January, scoring two goals and providing a couple of assists.
Arsenal began the month on a rather sour note with a defeat in the North London Derby and responded with victories over Leicester City and Middlesbrough. An utterly disappointing defeat against Monaco was followed with hard-fought victories over Crystal Palace and Everton.
February Match of the Month
Crsytal Palace 1 Arsenal 2 (Cazorla, Giroud): Under new boss, Alan Pardew, Crystal Palace became a force to be reckoned with and they’d recorded some impressive victories at Selhurst Park but a determined Arsenal side went there and grabbed all three points thanks to goals from Cazorla and Giroud.
February Goal of the Month
Giroud against Middlesbrough: The Frenchman reacted quickly to Alexis’ corner with a first-time volley that left the keeper helpless.
February Save of the Month
Ospina against Crystal Palace: Yannick Bolasie was a constant threat to the Gunners in the game and the winger fired an audacious effort from the left wing that almost caught Ospina off guard. The Colombian did well to react well to the ball.
February Player of the Month
Olivier Giroud: After recovering from his long-term injury, Giroud was back with a bang, scoring four goals in the process.
The Gunners began the month with a win over QPR before securing a vital victory over Manchester United in the FA Cup thanks to former Red Devil, Danny Welbeck. The Gunners defeated Monaco in the return leg but the damage done at the first leg was too much. Giroud continued his goalscoring form in the victories over Newcastle and West Ham.
March Match of the Month
Manchester United 1 Arsenal 2 (Monreal, Welbeck): The Gunners had tried for 15 attempts to defeat the Red Devils in their perch and it was very sweet knowing that it was their former player that scored the goal that sent them packing.
March Goal of the Month
Giroud against West Ham: The buildup to the goal was brilliant. Great all-round movement before it was executed with such ferocity by Giroud
March Save of the Month
Ospina against QPR: Matt Phillips swung in a ball that deceived the entire defense and the ball almost crept in but Ospina reacted quickly to parry the ball to a corner.
March Player of the Month
Olivier Giroud: His performances in March were so awesome (scored five goals) that he even won the Barclay’s Player of the Month award.
The Gunners were in a streak of hot form in April and they unleashed their wrath on Liverpool before narrowly edging past Burnley. Reading provided stiff opposition in the FA Cup semis but Alexis got the goals that sent the Gunners to the finals. The month ended with a bore draw against those Rent Boys from Stamford Bridge.
April Match of the Month
Arsenal 4 Liverpool 1 (Bellerin, Ozil, Sanchez, Giroud): Bellerin started the rout with a lovely left-footed curler before Ozil dispatched a brilliant free kick past Simon Mignolet. Alexis didn’t want to get left out of the party and he smashed in a sumptuous effort. Giroud put the icing on the cake.
April Goal of the Month
Giroud against Liverpool: The game was already beyond Liverpool’s reach but Giroud made his mark on the game with a lovely curler that went past Mignolet.
April Save of the Month
Ospina against Chelsea: The Rent Boys came to defend but they had a couple of breakaways like the one Ramires had but Arsenal had Ospina to thank as he kept his concentration levels in check to execute a good save.
April Player of the Month
Mesut Ozil: The player has been transformed in the month of April and capped with a good goal against Liverpool.
The climax to the Premier League season brought fits of anxiety as the Gunners hopes of finishing in second place, took a massive turn and all of a sudden, the customary fourth place looked possible again. The Gunners began the month well with a victory against Hull but they suffered a dip with a shock loss to Swansea as well as back to back draws with Manchester United and Sunderland. They ended the Premier League with a resounding victory over West Brom and they retained the FA Cup with a 4-0 thrashing of Aston Villa.
May Match of the Month
Arsenal 4 Aston Villa 0 (Walcott, Sanchez, Mertesacker, Giroud): This was a more convincing performance than the previous year’s final.
May Goal of the Month
Sanchez against Aston Villa: On a day when the Gunners needed their big players to stand up and be counted, Alexis came up with a 69.1 mph shot from 30 yards. Magnificent.
May Save of the Month
Ospina against Manchester United: Ospina did well to make a good save at Old Trafford.
May Player of the Month
Theo Walcott: He was frozen out of the team for a considerable chunk since his return from injury but he proved his worth this month.
This was certainly a season we’ll struggle to forget. We had a frustrating start but we had one hell of a finish.
My 2014/15 End of Season Awards come up next
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