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Wednesday, December 12, 2012
FEATURE: Arsenal’s season hit a new low last night following their penalty shoot-out defeat at npower League Two Bradford in the Capital One Cup.
Here, London24 Sport takes a look back at a turbulent 12 months for beleaguered Gunners boss Arsene Wenger.
SAN SIRO NIGHTMARE
The Gunners had been confident of progressing through to the quarter-finals of the Champions League when they headed out to AC Milan in February. However, former Manchester City striker Robinho and Zlatan Ibrahimovic ran the Arsenal defence ragged as the Italians romped to a 4-0 victory. “It was of those nights you never forget, our worst in Europe, we were punished and deservedly so,” said Wenger. Arsenal produced a spirited comeback in the second leg, but eventually went out 4-3 on aggregate - with Wenger handed another UEFA touchline ban for remonstrating with the referee at full-time.
VAN PERSIE SOLD TO UNITED
Despite Wenger’s best efforts, the club were unable to convince captain Robin van Persie to extend his contract, and so decided to cash in on their talisman striker, who had smashed a total of 37 goals to help drag the Gunners back up into third place in the Barclays Premier League on the final day of the season. The Dutchman had his choice, but opted for Old Trafford in a £24million deal and struck up an instant partnership with Wayne Rooney - scoring against his old club when they met in November.
SHAREHOLDERS REVOLT AT AGM
Wenger defended the achievements of his team following a stormy AGM at the Emirates Stadium in October, where chief executive Ivan Gazidis, chairman Peter Hill-Wood and majority shareholder Stan Kroenke were all heckled over the club’s financial strategy and failure to win a trophy since 2005. Wenger had opened his speech with an apology for the recent defeats against Norwich and Schalke the night before. He said: “For me, there are five ‘trophies’ - the first is to win the Premier League, the second is to win the Champions League, the third is to qualify for the Champions League, the fourth is to win the FA Cup and the fifth is to win the League Cup. I say that because if you want to attract the best players, they do not ask ‘did you win the League Cup?’, they ask you ‘do you play in the Champions League?’.”
GUNNERS SLUMP TO 10TH IN THE TABLE
Arsenal may have qualified for the knockout stages of the Champions League again, but their domestic form remained inconsistent. Another flat home performance against Swansea saw the visitors grab a deserved 2-0 win with a late brace from Michu as Wenger’s side were booed off the pitch - and ended the day down in 10th place.
PENALTY HEARTACHE AT VALLEY PARADE
Wenger had fielded a near full-strength side for last night’s Capital One Cup quarter-final, but were still on the end of a giantkilling. Garry Thompson’s first-half volley set the tone, and although Thomas Vermaelen eventually equalised late on to force extra-time, the Bantams progressed 3-2 after a penalty shoot-out, ending another chance for Arsenal to end their seven-year quest for a trophy. Afterwards, a defiant Wenger said: “Where does it leave our season? To focus on the next game, sport is about that.”