Games that made Arsenal pay in the 2010/11 season
Arsenal Football Club ended the 2010/11 Barclay’s Premier League in fourth place despite challenging Manchester United for the right to crowned as champions but they fell by the road side at the business end of the season. Some many factors contributed to Arsenal’s Premier League demise which ranged from the forwards’ profligacy to incompetent refereeing.
Arsenal had a very different approach in the Cup competitions. The club had a successful run in the Carling Cup but the Gunners crashed in the final hurdle. Most gooners believed that Arsenal’s Carling Cup glory would have fueled the club for greater success but it was the exact opposite. Arsenal lost the game in the 89th minute thanks to a horrendous error caused by Laurent Koscielny and Wojciech Szczesny. Arsenal had one of the easiest FA Cup run-outs in recent years but they failed in their first big test when they visited Old Trafford.
The Champions League draws offered Arsenal the chance to top a group that had Shakhtar Donetsk, SC Braga and Partizan Belgrade but with the group looking relatively easy on paper, Arsenal somehow found themselves on the back foot after back to back losses to Shakhtar and Braga. There was even a point in time when Arsenal was in a very precarious situation with Europa League football being a possibility if they didn’t secure a win against Partizan and Braga won Shakhtar. The Gunners won the final game of the group but they braced themselves for a clash with the emperors of modern day football, FC Barcelona.
Arsenal shocked the World with a historic 2-1 win against Barcelona at the Emirates but they also entered the football history books when they visited the Nou Camp to be the first side to lose a game in the Champions League knockout phase without a single shot on goal.
Here’s my take of the games that made Arsenal pay last season from August 2010 to May 2011.
Arsenal 2 West Brom 3 (25th September, 2010)
Arsenal hosted West Brom three days after getting their sweet revenge against Tottenham in the Carling Cup but Almunia picked up the wrong game to make his critics mouth water. He scythed down Peter Odemwingie in the box and injured his elbow in the process. He did well to save Chris Brunt’s penalty but he put a horror show in the second half that was worse than Resident Evil, Saw IV and Nightmare on Elm Street put together.
He was lost in transit when Odemwingie scored the match’s opener, his judgment let him down when a simple Gonzalo Jara shot went past him to the net and he was miles away from his goal when Jerome Thomas put the visitors 3 goals up with 20 minutes to spare. Samir Nasri did well to score a brace but it was not enough to salvage a draw for Arsenal. A football betting site in Nigeria called Nairabet gave West Brom the odds of 12.0 to win the game. I wonder how those gamblers that placed their bets on West Brom felt after the final whistle.
Shakhtar Donetsk 2 Arsenal 1 (2nd November, 2010)
Arsenal destroyed Shakhtar at the Emirates before playing them again a fortnight later but Arsenal’s loss at the Donbas Arena turned the tables on Group H.
Arsenal went off to a flyer when Theo Walcott dashed through the middle to score a goal that Arsenal legend Thierry Henry would have been proud of but Craig Eastmond decided to score his first Arsenal goal at the wrong end of the pitch though to level the game at 1-1. Clichy’s Self-Destruct chip got activated so Shakhtar’s captain Darijo Srna wasted no time in stealing the ball before gifting to Eduardo who placed the ball past Fabianski. As promised, Dudu Composure did not celebrate the goal.
Arsenal 2 Tottenham 3 (20th November, 2010)
Arsenal demolished Tottenham a month before this fixture but it will forever remembered for Arsenal’s capitulation in the second half after a scintillating first half performance. Samir Nasri squeezed the ball in from a very acute angle after rounding Heurelho Gomes. Marouane Chamakh reacted first from an Andrey Arshavin cross to put the Gunners 2 up but 3 goals from the World’s best left-footed Chimpanzee, Rafael van der Vaart and Younes Kaboul ensured that Tottenham’s grueling 68-match unbeaten streak against a Top Four side came to an end. They didn’t pick any better ground to end the record; the home of the old enemy.
SC Braga 3 Arsenal 2 (23rd November, 2010)
In a match where Arsenal lost Cesc Fabregas and Emmanuel Eboue to injuries, the Braga side that was whitewashed at the Emirates turned on the style to defeat the Gunners thanks to a brace from Matheus.
The result put Arsenal’s Champions League lives on the balance and Arsenal was also usurped by Shakhtar after their victory over Partizan.
Manchester United 1 Arsenal 0 (11th December, 2010)
Samir Nasri’s sheer brilliance against Fulham propelled Arsenal to the summit of the Premier League a week before the Gunners visited Old Trafford so the Gunners had a very simple yet daunting task ahead of them, to avoid defeat but Manchester United’s Korean Wong Fei-Hong’s header was enough to displace Arsenal from the top of the pile. Unfortunately, that was Arsenal’s last stint at the top of the Premier League.
Newcastle 4 Arsenal 4 (5th February, 2011)
Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea have Premier League records that they refer to as their bragging rights. Chelsea is the team that has the least amount of goals conceded in a Premier League season while Arsenal is the only team that didn’t lose any match in an entire season. Liverpool’s 18-league title record was smashed to bits by Manchester United but when they visited the Molineux to play Wolves, they shared Arsenal’s bragging right at that moment. Wolves’ win against Manchester United meant that Arsenal had a chance to cut the gap at the top but Arsenal fed the neutral football lovers with an epic but Arsenal fans with feelings of utter frustration and despair.
A Walcott placed finish, Djourou header and van Persie put Arsenal in the driving seat at halftime but Abou Diaby’s silly red card early in the second half paved the way for an amazing comeback for Newcastle. Phil Dowd also had a hand in Newcastle’s comeback by awarding two soft spot kicks.
Arsenal 1 Birmingham 2 (27th February, 2011)
This is definitely one of the worst games I’ve witnessed as an Arsenal fan. We always have a knack for blaming the referees or other reasons when things go wrong but that game in Wembley was a lot different. Szczesny was lucky to be on the pitch early on after he hacked Bowyer in the box. Nikola Zigic opened the scoring for Birmingham but van Persie equalized for Arsenal and injured his knee in the process. Obafemi Martins scored the winner for Birmingham thanks to….
Barcelona 3 Arsenal 1 (8th March, 2011)
After the Cup final loss to Birmingham, Arsenal went on a downward spiral that summed up their season with a series of lethargic and frustrating performances. Arsenal visited the Nou Camp on the back of a disappointing home draw against Sunderland that saw Szczesny produce a top drawer save from Welbeck’s shot. Wojciech Szczesny started the game in goal but a Dani Alves free kick ruptured the muscles in his finger thereby giving Almunia another chance to quell his personal demons. Almunia made a series of decent saves but the World’s best footballer scored a goal that only Lionel Messi could score by lifting the ball above Almunia before shooting into an unguarded net. That goal would have been avoided but Fabregas decided to be cheeky at the wrong end of the field and was duly punished for it. Sergi Busquets own goal frightened Barcelona a bit but the referee made a decision that demoralized Arsenal and gifted the game to Barcelona on a platter of Catalunyan gold.
Xavi and Messi killed off the tie but van Persie’s red card took its toll because if he was at the end of Jack Wilshere’s superb pass at the death, Arsenal would have geared themselves up for a revenge mission with Shakhtar in the quarter finals but it was not to be thanks to the poor first touch of the self-acclaimed World’s best striker, Nicklas Bendtner.
Manchester United 2 Arsenal 0 (12th March, 2011)
Arsenal entered the New Year with hopes of winning the quadruple but the defeat against Birmingham and Barcelona made everybody hope for the league and cup double but a frustrating performance against Manchester United in the FA Cup quarter final meant that Arsenal had only the Premier League to fight for.
Wenger made a tactical error by playing Kieran Gibbs ahead of a fit Gael Clichy and Arsenal paid for that switch because Evil Twin Fabio’s first goal came from Gibbs position. A Wayne Rooney header ended Arsenal’s hopes for FA Cup glory but the game was marred by Johan Djourou’s shoulder injury inflicted by his teammate Bacary Sagna.
West Brom 2 Arsenal 2 (19th March, 2011)
Arsenal’s fortnight of horror was complete with the defeat at Old Trafford a week earlier so every gooner expected the players wearing the Red and White to give everything left in them to win the Premier League because Manchester United were still in three competitions at that point in time but Almunia proved to Wenger and the rest of the World that he doesn’t to keep for Arsenal, Spain or England as he aspired at some point in his life. The first goal he conceded was very understandable because even the best keepers in the galaxy conceded goals form headers but the second goal conceded cannot be explained with simple words. I’ll explain it the way I did in my match review blog post for that game.
“Mulumbu played a simple over the top ball for Odemwingie. Squillaci was with Odemwingie when the ball was played. For no reason explainable to man, Almunia ran out of his box to attack the same ball like a robot whose control chip became dysfunctional. Odemwingie controlled the ball and evaded Squillaci. Almunia then “pushed” Squillaci out of the way like he knew what he was doing. Like his fellow Nigerian Obafemi Martins in the Carling Spoon final, Odemwingie had the simplest of tasks by planting the ball into an unguarded net. Koscielny ran to anticipate the ball but his act was futile. A faster defender like Evra, Clichy or Micah Richards might have stood an outside chance of anticipating it.”
WBA 2 Arsenal 0, so much for my W-W-W-W-W form table.
The commentator said that, “Arsenal attack like Men and defend like Children”.
Arshavin and van Persie scored for Arsenal bought it wasn’t enough as two points went begging.
Arsenal 0 Blackburn 0 (2nd April, 2011)
In the build-up to the game against Blackburn, the media Vultures told the World that Arsenal had mathematical chance of winning the Premier League as long as they beat Manchester United and win their eight other games starting with a home tie against Blackburn. Jack Wilshere spurned the best chance of the game by missing at point blank range. That was one of the most lethargic performances I seen the Gunners play. Paul Robinson is renowned for being Arsenal’s goal scoring wife with over 60 goals conceded to the Gunners ranging from his days at Leeds, Tottenham and Blackburn but Robinson kept a clean sheet. That shows you how poor Arsenal was.
Arsenal 1 Liverpool 1 (16th April, 2011)
Arsenal were going into their most important week of the season with three must-win ties against Liverpool, Tottenham and Bolton but the Gunners produced games that prompted for some fans to ask for Wenger’s head on a plate. In a game against an under-strength Liverpool side that didn’t have the likes of Steven Gerrard, Daniel Agger, Glen Johnson and Joe Cole, Fabio Aurelio and Jamie Carragher suffered injuries in the same but Arsenal couldn’t find a way past them for 90 minutes.
In the 7th minute of extra time, Fabregas waltzed into the Liverpool and was tackled by some bloke leaving the ref no choice but to point to the spot. Robin van Persie converted the spot kick with the class he’s renowned for but Farmer Emmanuel Eboue picked the worst ever game for dive to the ground with an opposition player. For the first time in a very long while, Arsene Wenger was literally on his knees when Dirk Kuyt was about to take the penalty that was converted in the 101st minute of play. This game summed Arsenal’s disappointing season.
Tottenham 3 Arsenal 3 (20th April, 2011)
Rival matches are more or less the best games in the Premier League. Arsenal disgraced Tottenham in the Carling Cup in September. Tottenham returned the favor in the Premier League a month later. Tottenham and Arsenal clashed in White Hart Lane with a lot at stake. Tottenham had a taste of Champions League football last season that saw great European sides like Inter Milan, AC Milan and Real Madrid visit their home ground so they wanted to get that feeling again and a win against Arsenal would have helped their cause. Arsenal on the other hand was fighting for Premier League honors so anything less than a win would be labeled as a disappointment.
Walcott scored a goal early on but it was canceled by Rafael van der Vaart’s strike. Samir Nasri scored his first goal since the days Idi Amin ruled Uganda then van Persie smashed the roof of the net to put Arsenal 3 up against the old enemy put goals from Tom Huddlestone and Rafael van der Vaart ensured that both rivals where going to share the spoils of a fiercely contested battle.
Bolton 2 Arsenal 1 (23rd April, 2011)
Chelsea had usurped Arsenal to second place so a win against a Bolton side that was thrashed by Stoke Rugby Football Club was mandatory but the Gunners showed us why they have been trophy-less for the past five seasons by failing to stand up when they ought to be counted. Arsenal was undone by the oldest trick in the book; set pieces. Impressive loanee Daniel Sturridge was the quickest to react from a corner to give the lead to the home side. Kevin Davies missed the chance to give Bolton a comfortable lead with a penalty that was saved by Wojciech Szczesny. Robin van Persie equalized for Arsenal with a neat goal after a good one-two with Cesc Fabregas but Arsenal lost the tie at the death thanks to more poor defending from another set piece.
At the sound of the ref’s whistle, there were only two teams that eligible for Premier League glory, Manchester United and Chelsea.
Stoke 3 Arsenal 1 (4th May, 2011)
Arsenal visited the Britannia after restoring some pride with a victory against the eventual league winners but the match against Stoke had a lot of significance because it was the ground where Ramsey suffered that horrible tackle from Shawcross. Arsenal was expected to be fiery in that game but Jack Wilshere was the only player that showed that he had fire in his belly with clashes against Dean Whitehead and that John Legend’s clone, Jermaine Pennant. Stoke wasn’t that good in this game. Arsenal was really poor. Kenwyne Jones scored the match opener with his belly while Pennant’s shot was deflected in by Djourou. Van Persie did well to bring Arsenal back into the game but Djourou’s poor clearance gave Jon Walters the chance to smash Arsenal’s net for six yards and he wasted no time n doing that adding salt to Arsenal’s injury. Manchester City also emerged from the shadows to usurp Arsenal from third spot.
Arsene Wenger was in the touchline when all these games took place so he probably knows what he has to do to prevent this from happening next season. It’s evident that Arsenal needs a big guy like Samba to sure up the defense and help with those vital aerial interceptions with crosses swung into Arsenal’s box. I’ll keep you updated with the latest transfer news as the days go by.
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