Arsenal’s Year in Review: Bittersweet Goodbyes

Arsenal's year in review
LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 06: A sign reading 'Merci Arsene' is seen outside the stadium prior to the Premier League match between Arsenal and Burnley at Emirates Stadium on May 6, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

With the season now over, we can take a few moments and think of it as a whole. Arsenal’s year in review, however, makes for nightmarish thoughts. From a sixth-place finish in the Premiership, taking just three league points away from home this calendar year to being knocked out of the FA Cup in the first fixture, the Gunners have really performed under par.

Arsenal’s Year in Review: 2017-2018

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Statistically speaking, Arsenal’s campaign was historically bad. Not only is sixth the lowest league finish under Arsène Wenger, the team’s 63 points is also the lowest total since 1995-1996 when the club claimed the same number.

Last season felt really poor – and with good reason – but this year, Arsenal are trending down. They finished last campaign with 75 points, missing fourth place by a single point. This season, the team has also scored fewer goals (74 to 77) and shipped more goals (51 to 44) compared to a year ago.

The major failing by Arsenal this season was their play away from the Emirates. While at home, the team claimed 47 points, a mark matched by Manchester United and only surpassed by Manchester City. However, on the road, the Gunners took just 16 points, the same as Newcastle United. One year ago, Arsenal took 30 points away from north London.

Arsenal’s leading goalscorer last season was Alexis Sanchez with 30 strikes. This year, Alexandre Lacazette claims the honors, netting 17 times.

The Gunners have made more errors this season than any other club in the Premier League. 15 times they have made an error which has led directly to a goal, compared to five such instances twelve months ago. Petr Cech leads the team and league in this metric, with six.

Major Stories

A few stories really captured fan’s imaginations over this campaign. So, Arsenal’s year in review must include at least a few!

Merci, Arsène

After 22 years at the helm, Wenger announced he would leave the club this summer. The final match of the Wenger era is over now, and the team is without a manager for the first time since 1996.

I’ve already done a ‘farewell Wenger‘ article, so I won’t go into a full review of his time at the club. However, suffice to say, he really does deserve this long, sweet goodbye he’s received.

Transfer Exodus/Records

The two most expensive signings of Arsenal’s illustrious history came this past season. Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang joined the team in consecutive windows, each breaking the previous transfer record in the process.

For a club to trend down and also attract some of the most talented players in the game right now really says something about the state of football at the moment. But, that doesn’t stop fans from going crazy when such signings are made.

That was just one side of the transfer coin this season for Arsenal, however, as we also had to say goodbye to a number of friendly faces. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain left for Liverpool on transfer deadline day last summer. Wojciech Szczesny joined Juventus even before that when his teammates were on tour in Australia.

In January, Olivier Giroud, Francis Coquelin, Mathieu Debuchy and Theo Walcott all left seeking regular first-team minutes. Arsenal’s year in review certainly included a certain player exodus from the squad, presumably due to the restructuring of the club.

Restructure

Perhaps the most important news from this past season, at least most important outside of Wenger’s announcement. It started last summer, as Jens Lehmann joined the club as the new goalkeeper coach. Dick Law, the long-time chief contract negotiator, left Arsenal in September, replaced by Huss Famy, formerly of Sky.

However, the real Earth-shattering changes came a bit later. Sven Mislintat, formerly of Borussia Dortmund, joined Arsenal in a new capacity; Head of Recruitment. Raul Sanllehi, former Barcelona Director of Football, came in February as the new Head of Football Relations, also a new title.

These two new faces will work closely with Ivan Gazidis in the future to run the club as a sort of three-headed Hydra. In fact, the Mavropanos signing was the first of the Mislintat era. Common sense also dictates that he had a heavy hand in bringing both Aubameyang and Mkhitaryan to north London.

Best Result

With so many painful memories from this season, it is difficult to pick out a good result. However, given the way the rest of the year went, one day in November stands out.

The first north London derby of the season kicked off on November 18. Despite the fact that Spurs had been the better team for no less than a year, Arsenal easily kicked them aside and ran out 2-0 winners.

While our boys couldn’t do the double over them this season, they still didn’t let the bad guys win on home soil. That is one small consolation in a time where the Gunners can’t finish above even Tottenham in the table.

Worst Result

Speaking of Spurs, they have only won one trophy during Wenger’s reign; the League Cup. So, it would have really been a funny sort of justice if, at a time where Arsenal are second-best in north London, Wenger’s last trophy was that same Cup.

However, going up against a rampant Manchester City side, Arsenal didn’t have much of a chance. Much like the two league meetings between Guardiola and Wenger, the Spaniard came out on top.

The Gunners just couldn’t compete, and the Cityzens easily ran out 3-0 winners on the day.

Player of the Year

Arsenal’s year in review will conclude with the player of the year. While there are a few names to mention, none really stand out from the crowd. Well, except one.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has put up really great numbers since joining in January. In just 13 matches, Aubameyang has ten goals and four assists for Arsenal. This includes all the games in which he is deployed on the left flank instead of his preferred central position.

Out of all Arsenal’s players, no one showed this level of consistency for the club all season. So, despite playing just half in north London, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is my player of the season.

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