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Season 2014/15 – Part Two Jan – May 2015

June 2, 2015

January

After a very good end to 2014 Arsenal travelled to Southampton. Two mistakes from Szczesny handed Saints a 2-0 win and the result could not really be argued. The first Szczesny came out and was lobbed and the second managed to toe poke the ball straight to Tadic who gratefully accepted the chance. One really good chance for Cazorla, a few half chances for Chamberlain and Alexis were all Arsenal mustered. Coquelin started his second full match for Arsenal since being called back from a loan spell with Charlton due to an injury picked up by Ramsey in December. What a difference this guy was about to make to the second half of the season.

The draw for the FA Cup 3rd round brought up a repeat of last season’s final with Hull City travelling to the Emirates. Hull had already visited the Emirates in the league and came away with a credible 2-2 draw. Theo Walcott made his first appearance for a year and only two of the team that beat Hull in the Cup last May started this match. Arsenal won the game deservedly 2-0 a Mertesacker header from a corner and a tidy turn and finish from Alexis.

Next up were our friends from Middle Earth. Ospina kept his place in-goal. Arsenal won with ease. Goals from Koscielny and two from Alexis saw Arsenal run out 3-0 winners. Once again though 3-0 up and the scoring stopped. Debuchy came back in for Chambers, picked up an injured shoulder and would be out for a while. Arsenal travelled to Manchester City with the old “Arsenal don’t do well against the big teams” ringing in their ears. Well this was a different Arsenal performance, more focused on defence as a team and how our opponents play. City threatened in the first half but Ospina did not have a save to make. Arsenal soaked up whatever City threw, minus Yaya and scored twice themselves with a Cazorla penalty and a Giroud header from a Cazorla free kick.. This was a superb win that showed Arsenal could beat the big sides if they set up correctly.

FA Cup fourth round was up next. An away visit to Brighton where Arsenal had beat them 3-2 only two seasons before in the Cup. This time goals from Walcott. Ozil and a cracker from Rosicky helped produce another 3-2 victory and move Arsenal into the fifth round. On 26 January Arsenal signed Gabriel Paulista from Villareal for around £11m which looked a good addition for cover on The BFG and Koscielny. After a poor start to the month away at Southampton.

Arsenal recorded four wins on the spin, finished the month with thirty-nine points from twenty-two games and fifth in the table. January picked up after the defeat away at Southampton and the victory at Manchester City would give the team confidence to push on for the rest of the season.

Table as of January 2015

February

Arsenal started the month turning over Aston Villa 5-0 at home and this without Alexis. The flick of the season from Ozil set up Giroud to start the rout. Three passes from Edge of Arsenal’s box saw Ozil make it 2-0. Four passes from back to front then saw Walcott curl in Arsenal’s third. A penalty from Cazorla and a nice placed finish from Bellerin ended the scoring. Arsenal had kept three clean sheets and taken nineteen out of a possible twenty-four points.

Next up was the North London derby at Shite Hart Lane. Arsene Wenger’s 700th Premiership match and 45th North London Derby. Arsenal started well and went 1-0 early on through a well taken goal by Ozil set up by Welbeck and Giroud (miss-kick?) . Then Arsenal sat back and Spurs poured forward. Spurs players were certainly getting stuck in and maybe Rose and Mason may well have seen red on another day with Atkinson in another of his poor game modes. With Arsenal having held out till half time you could sense a Spurs goal was coming and Kane came up with the goods for Spurs on fifty-six minutes to equalise. Arsenal could not get their game going at all and yet Koscielny could have put Arsenal ahead with a header he put straight at Lloris. With four minutes left Kane rose to head home to give Spurs a 2-1 win. North London was white 🙂 The shift in North London was being mentioned again. Spurs were going to finish above Arsenal. Spurs were nailed on for top four. Those living in the shadows of North London will never learn.

Table as of After Spurs match

Leicester City were Arsenal’s next opponents at the Emirates. Sanchez was back to replace Giroud. Walcott and Rosicky replaced Welbeck and Ramsey. Arsenal won with goals from Koscielny and Walcott both assisted by Ozil. Leicester did well and had their chances and pulled one back in the sixty-first minute. Only a good save by Ospina stopped Leicester maybe getting a well deserved draw. FA Cup firth Round day and Middlesboro were the visitors. Gabriel made his debut for the club. Szczesny back in for Ospina. Cazorla was made Captain. Riding high in the Championship and having defeated Manchester City 2-0 at the £tihad in the previous round, this was billed as a very close match. It never turned out that way a two goals in two minutes from Giroud in the first half settled the match. The first a simply majestic team goal where every player in the Arsenal side touched the ball before Giroud scored. Arsenal dominated and there were to be no heroics from Boro in this game.  in truth if it were not for Mejias in-goal for Boro, the scoreline could have been 5-0.

Arsenal travelled over the Thames to Crystal Palace in what looked like a tough match as Pardew had got Palace playing some decent football and winning matches. Jack Wilshere out for three months returned to the squad. Arsenal went 2-0 up through a Cazorla penalty and a well worked goal leading to Giroud scoring and taking his tally for Arsenal to fifty goals. the last fifteen minutes Palace piled on the pressure, got one back and then hit the post, but Arsenal somehow held on and took the three points as Palace though with plenty of pressure and twenty odd shots a goal only three were on target.

The final game of the month was at home in the Champions League against Monaco. What looked like a good draw for Arsenal ended up being a nightmare evening as Arsenal played poorly or maybe were made to play poorly as Monaco won 3-1 and totally deserved their victory. Monaco were also shorn of a few of the main players. Only highlight for Arsenal was a late cracker from Oxlade-Chamberlain that might have given Arsenal a small chance in the second leg. Arsenal finished the month with Forty-Eight points from twenty-six games and third in the table. Arsenal won three of their four league games and progressed to the sixth round of the FA Cup. The table also showed Arsenal five points clear of Tottenham who only two league games earlier were one point clear of Arsenal and the pride of North London.

Table as of February 2015

March

Gabriel got his first Premier League start at home to Everton. Arsenal’s first goal saw Giroud score from a Ozil corner. A great chance fell to Ozil but a very good tackle from Jagielka saved Everton. A late Tomas Rosicky shot from outside the box that took a slight deflection sealed the result for Arsenal 2-0. Hardly a classic performance but three welcome points. Arsenal then travelled the short distance to West London to take on Queen’s Park Raisins. A largely uninspiring first half came to life in the second with Arsenal playing some good football. This was rewarded with two goals in five minutes with Giroud stabbing home from Gibbs short cross. Alexis made it 2-0 with one of his weaving runs and near post shot. Austin pulled one back for Rangers. The truth is Arsenal should have won by a bigger margin here. However a fourth consecutive league win was welcome.

BBC Sports decided Arsenal’s away match against Manchester United in the FA Cup sixth round would be played at 8pm on a Monday evening. Manchester United had reached the sixth round beating Yeovil, Cambridge and Preston. Arsenal actually played well and went 1-0 up after twenty-five minutes through a well worked team goal finished by Monreal. Sadly Arsenal only held out four minutes as their nemesis Rooney scored for United to equalise. Valencia then assisted Arsenal in the sixty-first minute with a short back pass that Welbeck anticipated, rounded (shoot straight me) de Gea and slide the ball home for 2-1 Arsenal. Cazorla then shot straight at de Gea, though to be fair it was a good save that should have been 3-1. Signing of the season, Di Maria, all £63m of him got himself sent off . A fully deserved victory for Arsenal as they went through into the semi-finals of the FA Cup.

West Ham then popped over from East London to the Emirates and if you want to talk quick passing and a superb goal at the end of a speedy move, look no further than Arsenal’s first goal in this match right on half time. A cracker into the top corner from Giroud, who simply cannot stop scoring right now. Arsenal should have been at least 3-0 up at half time but wasted chances.  Arsenal’s second came on eighty-four minutes from a thrown-in which saw Giroud and Ramsey have an exchange of passes before Ramsey slide the home. Another superb move only a couple of minutes ended with Cazorla sliding the ball across the area for Flamini to tap in with his first touch of the ball.  3-0 to Arsenal.

After a run of domestic games it was back to the Champions League and the second leg away against Monaco. Arsenal needed to win by three clear goals to progress into the next round. Maybe even a 3-1 victory and win on penalties, but whatever this was going to be a tough ask. In the end a first half strike from Giroud and late goal from Ramsey just wasn’t enough. Arsenal teased as usual winning 2-0 on the night and going out on the away goal rule, yet again.  It was back to the Premier League and a trip up north to play Newcastle United who were not exactly setting the world on fire. Arsenal didn’t really play that well, but two first half goals from Giroud put Arsenal 2-0 up at the break. A quick reply from Newcastle in the second half reduced the arrears and Arsenal held on. Newcastle had plenty of the ball yet only one really good chance to equalize, however, Ospina was up to the task saving from Sissoko.

Arsenal finished the month with sixty points from thirty games and third in the table. Arsenal won four out of four league games, beat Monaco 2-0 away in Champions League and progressed to the sixth round of the FA Cup. Six-out-of-six wins in the month. Four defeats in twenty-games since the beginning of December the team were certainly getting it together and playing taking each opposition into account. Downer was going out yet again at the knock out stage of the Champions League.

Prem table as of March 2015

April

Arsenal started the month with a superb victory over Liverpool winning 4-1 at home and continuing their recent revival of form. Three first half goals in eight minutes put Arsenal 3-0 up at the break with a superb solo run and curled shot from Bellerin. A lovely free-kick from Ozil and a hammer shot from Sanchez. Liverpool pulled one back through a Henderson penalty, however, Giroud scored another beauty on ninety minutes to give the scoreline a better look to it after Can had been sent off for Liverpool. Arsenal then travelled up to the North West to take on relegation candidates Burnley. An Aaron Ramsey goal on twelve minutes settled the game after about four chances in the Burnley area went begging. Arsenal once again should have put this game to bed and though Burnley battled well, but Arsenal should have won by more.

FA Cup Semi-Final day. The draw had seen Arsenal pitched against Reading who were languishing down the bottom end of the Championship. Previous matches Arsenal had played at Wembley showed that nothing is guaranteed. Arsenal took the lead through Alexis who was on the end of a superb ball from Ozil, to control and tucked the ball nicely past the keeper. Reading battled and got a reward after sixty-one minutes when McCleary scored to equalise. The game went to extra-tine and in the one-hundredth and sixth minute Alexis won the match as the his low shot squirmed under the keeper to make it 2-1 to Arsenal who moved into their second successive FA Cup final.

Chelsea came to the Emirates for a match Arsenal simply had to win if they had any chance, however, small of winning the title. Jose played this tight, no forwards and defence all the way. The result was a not surprising 0-0 draw as Arsenal could not break down Chelsea’s defence, producing only one shot on target in the whole game. A professional result that pleased Jose and put to bed any hope of Arsenal winning the title.

Arsenal finished the month with sixty-seven points from thirty-three games and still third in the table. Arsenal won two out of three league games and progressed to the FA Cup Final. Arsenal now had only four defeats in twenty-four games since the beginning of December. The FA Cup Final would be between Arsenal and Aston Villa who had beaten Liverpool in their semi-final.

Prem table as of April 2015

May

The month started with Arsenal travelling to Hull City on a Monday night. A superb first half performance from Arsenal saw three quick goals put Arsenal 3-0 up by the break. Two goals from Alexis, one a free kick and the other nicely take rounding the keeper and one from Ramsey whose shot took a deflection off a defender. Arsenal then applied the hand brake again. Hull got one back through Quinn but Arsenal saw the game out to go level on points with Manchester City in second and with a game-in-hand.

Seven days later and another Monday night match this time at home to Swansea. Arsenal played some good stuff, had plenty of chances on a night when ex-keeper Fabianski decided to play like a word beater and Swansea defended like Trojans. A late Gomis header sealed the points for Swansea on a disappointing night for Arsenal’s hopes of finishing second.

Arsenal went back to Old Trafford to play Manchester United. A win or avoid defeat meant Arsenal could secure or almost secure third place and no pre-qualification for the Champions League proper for next season. Manchester United did not have nemesis Rooney in their line up. Arsenal didn’t really turn up for the first half and United went in at the break 1-o up through Herrera. Arsenal played better in the second half and a cross from Walcott was turned into his own net by Blackett for Arsenal’s equaliser. That’s how the game ended and Arsenal only need not lose to Sunderland to be sure of securing that third place finish.

Sunderland came to the Emirates fighting to stay in the premiership. Arsenal had plenty of the game, created enough chances to have won two games and yet somehow with some good defending Sunderland got the point they needed with a 0-0 draw. Another disappointing performance from Arsenal having now gone three homes games without scoring a goal. The final league match was at home to West Bromwich Albion and Arsenal took them apart in the first half with four well taken goals and one of them Wilshere’s winning the MOTD goals of the season award. The second half was mainly just going through the motions and that hand break was applied to good use as it was so many times over the. season. However with the game won here and an FA Cup Final only a few days away, it was sort of understandable. Arsenal finished on seventy-five points from thirty-eight games and in third place. Five defeats in the last thirty games. Finishing a full eleven points ahead of the mob down the Seven Sisters Road.

Prem Table as of May 2015

The final game of the season was the FA Cup Final at Wembley against Aston Villa. A comprehensive 4-0 win saw Arsenal take their second successive FA Cup trophy. Albeit the match was one-sided as Arsenal not only stopped Villa playing, but played as well as they have all season, thus ending the season on a high note. Third in the table and a trophy to boot  is a slight improvement on last season.

Fewer points gained than previous season, but that may say more about the Premiership overall last season, only this time with third place there will be no Champions League qualifiers to get in the way early next season. Enough enjoyable games from December onwards, start could have been so much better.

 

Cheers

@harlowgooner

 

 

 

 

 

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