Season Review: 07/08 15 May, 2008Posted by lasagnechef in Arsenal News.
Well what a roller coaster of a season that was. It really had everything, injuries, title races, embarrassing defeats, huge wins, elation, depression, cup runs, incredible performances, stupid mistakes and more.
Going back to July, I don’t think anyone really knew what to think. Thierry Henry had just left for Barcelona and all the media had written us off. They all thought that this would be the year that we’d drop out of the top four and everybody was tipping Tottenham to take our place. How very wrong they were. This was my prediction on the season ahead back on the 19th July:
07/08 will be interesting, Henry’s gone but Van Persie will have a brilliant season in his absence. He looked good last year but got injured halfway through; he still ended up our top scorer though. Walcott and Adebayor will also be looking to step up and I predict good things from those two.
Eduardo was incredible at Dinamo Zagreb scoring more goals than appearances last season; lets see how he does in England. I predict 4th again, the top three have strengthened this summer and will be too much for us. Give our young side a year or two and the title will be back to where it belongs.
That was my honest opinion. I believed that 4th was very realistic. I was a bit worried about Henry leaving and the other top three strengthening but I still thought we would comfortably get 4th. I thought Spurs would make 5th or 6th. I was right about Walcott and Adebayor stepping up, Ade had a great season and Theo made a fantastic improvement.
However in my look at the team ahead of the 07/08 season, my big tips were Robin van Persie and Abou Diaby. I wasn’t right about Diaby, he has just carried on as normal but to be fair he never really got many chances, and they were all on the left wing this season. However Robin started really well, and he was the early leader for the golden boot. He was just coming into some breathtaking form but that when the injury hit. He got a few games after that but he never really broke back into the side.
So, in the beginning, it started very badly. Jens Lehmann let in a ridiculous goal against Fulham in the first few minutes of the season. Things had got off to the worst possible start but we came back to win that one 2-1. Then, the very next league game against Blackburn, Lehmann did it again, spilling a shot which cost us the three points. However, a few days later we found out Lehmann had been dropped for our next game against Man City, Almunia got the start and we ran out 1-0 winners. That was the beginning of the end for Jens Lehmann.
We then got into a run at good form, and on the 15th September it was time for a trip down Seven Sisters Road to Tottenham. If we won there, we would go top of the league. We won 3-1 Thanks to two incredible goals from Adebayor and Fabregas. I was there and I will never forget celebrating them.
So that meant we saw ‘1.’ next to our name for the first time in like three seasons. It was early days so I didn’t really think much of it, but we held that spot from there on for most of the season. We sailed through our next few games in September and October which included a 5-0 win over Derby, and 3-0 home win against Juande Ramos’ Seville and a 7-0 thrashing of Slavia Prague.
However the very next game we dropped points for the first game in a while, the 1-1 wasn’t really a bad result. I’ll always remember that game for Cesc’s brilliant celebration. A couple of game later, we entertained Man United at home and we just managed to nick a point in injury time thanks to William Gallas. The lino correctly flagged that the ball went over the line and we kept our unbeaten start going with a 2-2 draw.
Come December, I started to believe that we could actually be challenging for the title here. I didn’t want to get carried away with our good start, especially after the pre-season where we were totally written off. The media had changed their mind about this young Arsenal side and were now raving about them. I remember headlines calling us the 2nd generation of the Invincibles.
I didn’t like this pressure though and soon enough, we lost. The unbeaten run ended against ‘Boro when we lost 2-1 at the Riverside in a poor performance. We now only had a point gap between us and United in 2nd and it was back to reality for the Gooners. We had to bounce back though; our next two games were against Chelsea and Spurs, both at home. We showed our character and beat Chelsea 1-0 thanks to a first half Gallas header and beat the rivals 2-1 in an incredible game (on my birthday) in which Almunia saved a Robbie Keane penalty.
These two game showed that we could come back after a disappointing defeat and showed quality where it mattered. There are important qualities of Champions and we had to somehow hang on.
Things were going well, and despite the injury troubles we kept up the pace at the top of the league. The youngsters were doing well in the Carling Cup too and made it to the semi finals where we were drawn against Tottenham. Walcott earned us a 1-1 draw at home and it was all set up perfectly for the 2nd leg at White Hart Lane. We were having trouble selecting a team so we had to draft in a couple of first teamers’ but it still was a mix and match side. It all went wrong for us that night though, Tottenham had been psyched up for the game of their lives, and they did it. They beat us 5-1 in one of the worst footballing nights of my life. They were better than us on that night, I have to admit that. Spurs went on to win the Carling cup beating Chelsea in the final. We had to stand up, and get on with it, and that’s what we did…
So that was January, and we were still up there, in the fight. February was to be a massive and decisive month for us. After finishing 2nd in our Champions League group, we were drawn with AC Milan in the knockout stages. But before that, we had to play Man United in the FA Cup. Now it was well known amongst Arsenal fans that we weren’t interested in the FA Cup. Being 5 points clear in the League, and with AC Milan to come to Ashburton Grove in the next game, I wasn’t bothered by our 4-0 defeat to Man United. Obviously, it wasn’t nice, and it meant we were no longer in the FA Cup, but it was the other two competitions that we had to focus on now.
A few days later, it was AC Milan. We drew that one 0-0 setting it us nicely/nervously for the match in the San Siro. However the next game, was arguably the most important out of the three, against Birmingham…
Early on in the game, everyone at Arsenal was stunned by a shocking Eduardo injury. Fans, players and staff felt this challenge deeply and seeing Eduardo it that much discomfort was quite disturbing. It obviously affected the players and we could hardly play football for the remainder of the first half. Arsene had to give an important team talk at half time, and it worked. Theo Walcott helped us get to 2-1 in the process scoring his first league goal for the club.
Everyone’s thoughts were with Eduardo but it looked as though we were just about to hang on to the lead and maintain the 5 point lead when we conceded a penalty in the very last minute. It’s too late now to continue moaning at the referee but lets say that it was a dubious decision against Clichy. Gallas, like all fans, couldn’t believe it and walked up the other end of the field in disbelief. The penalty was converted and the game finished 2-2. Gallas slumped to the floor in a very visual display of his emotions, something he was later criticised for.
I didn’t care; I would’ve been the same. Every Arsenal fans across the country was in the worst mood that day. We still drew, but the harshness of the penalty and the shocking injury to Eduardo. It all just seemed like the end. We were still clear at the top but this was unsettling times for The Arsenal.
We had to try and refocus ourselves, but it just didn’t happen, March was awful for us in the Premiership. We drew our games against Aston Villa, Wigan and ‘Boro which meant Man United could overtake us on ‘Grand Slam Sunday’. And they did, we surrendered our 1-0 lead at Stamford Bridge to lose 2-1. The worst imaginable had happened, from such a strong position we’d lost it.
Our next game was against Bolton; here was the chance to end the month’s awful league form with a win. However our bad luck continued and going in at half time we were 2-0 down and had Diaby sent off. By this time I think pretty much every Arsenal fan had given up. It was terrible; I just couldn’t believe how we’d come to this. However, in the second half we completed an inspiring comeback and managed to beat Bolton 3-2. Cesc’s last minute goal won s the points and his celebration is still my desktop background. Even though we should’ve never got ourselves into that position, it was amazing to come back like that. It lifted spirits and gave us a bit of belief going into the final few games.
March was bad, but our awful league form was forgiven for this:
Incredible. The critics wrote us off but we went to the San Siro and gave the game of our lives. I was lucky enough to be out in Milan for the game and it’s an experience I will never forget. Cesc Fabregas’ late goal was incredible and an image that will never league my mind.
Obviously, at the time, I didn’t really see it that well, I was too busy going mental like I’ve never gone mental before. It’s just one of those unbelievable goals that you celebrate like you don’t care if you hurt yourself and al you can say is: “OH MY GOD OH MY GOD OH MY GOD!” No, just me? Well it was fucking beautiful. Adebayor made it 2-0 thanks to some good work by Theo Walcott. That completed the incredible win against AC Milan. It’s a game I will never forget; we outplayed the current European champions, in their own stadium and proved our worth.
In the next round, we were drawn against Liverpool and we were obviously on a high from the last round. The Scoucers had disposed of the other team from Milan so they weren’t feeling too bad either. By coincidence, the two legs were either side of a league game against Liverpool. All three games were of the utmost importance. The first leg was at home and it finished 1-1 however we’ll always feel we should’ve won that. Liverpool’s goal was a very sloppy one to concede, we should’ve had a penalty and Bendtner stopped on of our shots on their goal line right at the end.
Next up, it was them in the league, and it was also 1-1, both sides fielded a weakened side but we still really needed to win this. Focus now turned to a massive night at Anfield. It was an incredible game and it looked like we’d won it late on when we made it 2-2 thanks to another great Walcott run and Adebayor finish. I went mental as usual but just a few minutes later Liverpool were awarded an incredibly soft penalty, just to rub it in our faces that we didn’t get one in the first leg. Gerrard scored it and they ended up 4-2 winners. It was a very sad night but I have to admit it was a brilliant game. I still feel we should’ve won it but oh well.
We were pretty much out of all competitions now. Next we had to go to Man United, we had to win there to have any hope whatsoever of getting back into the tile race, but in reality we felt it was all over for us anyway. We lost 2-1 and it finally felt like it was over. In a way it was a relief but it was very depressing thinking back to what a strong position we got ourselves into and then lost.
The remaining four games of the season we played like friendlies. We could still mathematically get back into it but we knew it was all over. Chelsea beat united at Stamford Bridge to take it down to the wire but in the end the inevitable happened and Man United became Champions.
So that was the story of our season basically. Well done if you managed to read all of that, it was emotional. We’ll learn a lot form this campaign and we’ll come back even stronger next season, but more on that in a couple of months. I’ll also do an end of season awards type thing soon. Thanks for reading and thanks for following us over this difficult season. Ooh to be a Gooner!