It sure wasn’t a great 2017/18 for Arsenal Football Club, but in the end, there was the dawn of a new beginning
If a fifth-place finish wasn’t enough in 2016/17, Arsenal did one better with a sixth-place finish in 2017/18. The Gunners were once a power to reckon with, but lately, under Arsene Wenger they proved to be the masters of disappointing their fans in not one but many ways imaginable.
If at the beginning of the season, as quickly as fans thought this could be their year with the record signing of Alexandre Lacazette, the hopes faded at an even faster rate in the way their team took on the season. Unexpected defeats, loss of form in players and a transfer saga that dragged Arsenal’s season to rock-bottom.
But it wasn’t all negative for the team as they did show excellent form at the Emirates and some memorable games there did the trick to hold on to the season for at least something, if not something significant. But there were further signings in the January window, whose performances are inevitably going to bring back hope in the hearts of the fans for the next season. Until then, they have to live with what happened.
Away Day Blues
The blue away shirt that Arsenal wore did not appeal to the majority of their fanbase. Had Arsenal known their new shirt colour would aptly reflect their form on the road, the Gunners would have ditched it straight away.
The first away game of the season had a defining effect on Arsenal’s season with a heartbreaking defeat to Stoke. That was followed up with a hammering at the hands of Liverpool at Anfield where Arsenal wore their tainted blue shirts for the first time that season. Looking at those performances, fans expected a roller-coaster away season, although the ride only went in one direction — downwards.
Come to the end of April as Arsenal visited Old Trafford, they had no away wins in 2018, and the downward spiral continued with their sixth straight away loss of 2018 alone, which was followed up by the seventh-straight defeat against Leicester. Arsenal would have finished the season without a win in 2018, had it not been for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s solitary goal on the last game of the season away to Huddersfield.
With only four wins recorded away from home in a season represented Arsenal’s worst ever under Arsene Wenger. The away form ensured Arsenal were out of the running from the Premier League title chase early on, while the players showed a surprising lack of effort and commitment during such a time of crisis. This was one aspect that completely derailed Arsenal’s season.
FA Cup Nightmare
If there was something Arsenal could salvage out an already dreadful season, many had their hopes pinned on their club retaining the FA Cup. The same cup was the saviour for Arsene Wenger when Arsenal finished outside of the top-four for the first time in Wenger’s reign in 2016/17, but there was a belief they would resurrect their season by winning the cup.
Nottingham Forest were their opponents in their opening third round fixture, away from home. With Arsenal maintaining momentum and consistency in their dreadful away form, they succumbed to an embarrassing defeat.
That was a real heartbreak for Arsenal and their fans, who had hoped they would salvage something from the season with a good run in the cup, but the script was already written way before their took to the field in Nottingham. Again, Arsenal’s lack of confidence away from home did the trick, and by now any team, big or small were confident of beating them in the coming days for the rest of the season, and so they did.
Carabao Cup Final
Arsenal played well in the Carabao Cup, however, and made it to the semi-finals of the competition where they faced Chelsea in a two-legged tie. As the first game ended in a stale draw, Arsenal drew blood with a superb win over Chelsea in second. And they were set to play Manchester City in the Final.
The Gunners, however, showed a complete lack of character against City in the final of the Carabao Cup as the Premier League champions thrashed a lackluster Gunners’ side.
In fact, the immediate aftermath was another 3-0 win for City, this time at the Emirates, and the game did not look like one played between top Premier League teams. One of the reasons was the Emirates being half-empty, and the loudest voices heard that evening were those of the City supporters. These two games also made the calls for Arsene Wenger to quit even stronger than ever.
Arsene Wenger announces his departure
For Arsenal fans, it sure was an emotional moment when their revered manager finally called it quits and announced his intention to leave the club after 22 years in charge. In the aftermath, the fans forgot about the growing discontent against him, and on the other hand, the players seemed motivated to perform to their best in Wenger’s final games.
There were reports that Arsene Wenger was forced out of the club, but everyone seemed to be alright with the decision after all. The calls for him to quit were stronger than ever, and in return, Wenger appeared to have answered the calls finally to announce his retirement.
Arsene Wenger’s departure left behind his legacy as the Gunner’s greatest ever manager and the scenes at his final home game were just sensational. Arsene Wenger gave a heartwarming speech to the Gunners faithful and at the end left with his head held high, and with all the respect he could get from fans, managers, and players all around the world.
Europa League Heartbreak
There was a sense of optimism and somehow Arsenal fans were as confident as Manchester United fans from the season before. United qualified for the Champions League by winning the Europa League and for some reason, including the fact that Wenger was leaving and the players wanted to perform for him, they were seemingly utterly confident of winning the Europa League.
A late equaliser from ten-man Atletico Madrid at the Emirates salvaged a draw for the visitors and also got them the precious away goal they were looking for. Arsenal eventually lost the second leg 1-0, thanks to a solitary goal from old foe Diego Costa, Arsenal’s hope of qualifying for the Champions League died with it as well.
It was also the last chance for Arsene Wenger to lay his hands on a European Trophy after losing in two previous finals, but it wasn’t meant to be. While fans and Wenger himself was confident of winning the Europa League and thus subsequently qualifying for next season’s Champions League all ended in heart break.