Search

A look back at Arsenal’s highs and lows during 2015

16:51 06 January 2016

Santi Cazorla and Olivier Giroud celebrate Arsenal

Santi Cazorla and Olivier Giroud celebrate Arsenal's 2-0 win over Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium in January 2015

Archant

BEST PLAYER

Alexis Sanchez continued to plunder goals for most of the year before tiredness and injuries kicked in. Santi Cazorla still doesn’t convince everyone, but was consistent for much of 2015. A mention also for Francis Coquelin for playing well above himself to fight fires in front of the defence.

Then there’s Petr Cech, excused an atrocious debut after barely putting a foot – or a glove – wrong since August. What a signing. He could be the difference.

But it would be churlish to omit Mesut Ozil just because of a lacklustre start to the year. The Germany international’s assists this season alone – 22 by Christmas, just five short of Thierry Henry’s 2002/03 league record – have been worth their weight in gold.

His vision is freakish, his touch sublime. He is truly blossoming. It is no coincidence Theo Walcott has found form at the same time. But Ozil has also added steel to his game – and this is the clincher.

One 50-yard trackback in the final moments of the recent 2-1 win over Man City exemplified that, sending an opponent sprawling to buy his defence some time. Stylistically, Ozil is the closest player we’ve seen to Dennis Bergkamp. Right now, £42m seems a snip.

WORST PLAYER

Some players still polarise opinion, Per Mertesacker being one. Staggeringly, Aaron Ramsey is another. Neither deserve it.

Blundering Wojciech Szczesny lasted barely a week of 2015 before he was packed off.

Injury-prone Mikel Arteta continues to leave this correspondent scratching his head. His leadership qualities remain well hidden when he does limp onto the pitch.

But Mathieu Debuchy has barely covered himself in glory. Yes, he got injured. But his sulky reaction to Hector Bellerin taking his shirt tells you this is a player not willing to fight for his place.

And on the rare occasions Debuchy has made the starting XI he has been woeful. Sheffield Wednesday away, anyone? His attitude clinches this one.

BEST PERFORMANCE

A 4-0 FA Cup final victory would make it in other years. But the quality of the opponents – Tim Sherwood’s lame Aston Villa – and some other very decent performances throughout 2015 preclude it quite comfortably.

The 3-0 win over Manchester United saw arguably the most exhilarating 20 minutes of football played all year. A 2-1 FA Cup win at Old Trafford was a night to remember. In Europe, beating Bayern 2-0 was another high, as was that Pyrrhic 2-0 win at Monaco and the 3-0 hammering of Olympiacos in Piraeus.

A smart 2-1 defeat of Manchester City – showing nous and a killer instinct – just before Christmas gave fans and players belief this could be our year.

But it was another victory over City – in January – that edges it for me. The unexpected maturity, a dazzling midfield display by Cazorla – and, finally, a realisation from Arsene Wenger of the need to sometimes concede possession and hit hard and low away from home – seals this category.

WORST PERFORMANCE

Losing 3-0 at Sheffield Wednesday – in front of a fantastic away support – in the Capital One Cup was unacceptable, as was the 4-0 loss at Southampton, another example of how this team can go into dramatic meltdown at the most unexpected times.

But it is in Europe where Arsenal still continue to disappoint most. A 5-1 battering in Munich earlier this season reminded us how far we have to go. It was abysmal and a reality check of the most severe kind – although Wenger was quick to dismiss the result, especially after his team scraped into the group stages.

Many would point to that woeful 2-1 loss at Dinamo Zagreb or Olympiacos’ shock 3-2 win – but Monaco’s 3-1 win at the Emirates in March was a hammer blow. It was as easy a tie as the Gunners could have hoped for – yet their worst characteristics came to the fore. The defensive naivety – pulling a goal back late on to make it 2-1, only to concede as we chased an equaliser in the dying stages – was crass, Sunday football stuff.

WISH LIST FOR 2016

n The Jack Wilshere injury mystery is finally solved.

n The Danny Welbeck injury mystery is finally solved.

n Ticket prices at the Emirates are frozen.

n Arsenal take advantage to finally win this damned league.

n Pep Guardiola flutters his eyelashes in the direction of Ivan Gazidis.

Latest Islington Sports News

07:30
Middlesex bowler Tim Murtagh

With just a month of the season remaining, Middlesex appear better-placed to become county champions than at any time since their last title 23 years ago.

07:15
Watford midfielder Etienne Capoue

The match stats team at bettingexpert pored over the recent history of league contests between Arsenal and Watford – who meet at Vicarage Road on Saturday – and discovered that, while the Gunners secured a 3-0 win in the corresponding fixture last term, all of their goals came in the second half.

Yesterday, 11:50
Times ABC's Jules Philips. Pic: Dieter Perry

Islington super-bantamweight Jules Phillips is getting ready to go to war – four months after leaving the Army behind.

Yesterday, 10:41

London Blitz chairman Henry Charlton-Weedy is determined to make amends for last year’s BritBowl defeat to London Warriors when the teams clash again in the end-of-season showpiece.

Wed, 16:29
Arsenal promo

Here’s your chance to see the likes of Thierry Henry, Robert Pires and Freddie Ljungberg pull on the Arsenal shirt just one more time.

Tue, 18:56
Sandun Dias hit 85 for Highgate. Pic: Max Flego

Highgate hauled themselves out of the drop zone again as the weather helped them to secure a narrow victory at Enfield in Division Two of the Middlesex County League.

Tue, 13:54
Jordan Gregory bowls for North London. Pic: Max Flego

North London skipper Sam Bardon is optimistic that victories in the two remaining games will give his side a good chance of promotion from Middlesex County League Division Three.

Tue, 12:44
Liam O'Driscoll was the pick of North Middlesex's bowlers with three wickets, and he then hit 53 off 58 balls with the bat. Pic: Max Flego

North Middlesex extended their remarkable winning run to eight matches but remain second with just two games left in the title race after leaders Teddington also came out on top.

Newsletter Sign Up

Most read sport

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

Competitions

You could win £15,000 to spend on either their mortgage or a deposit towards the home of their dreams

Wouldn’t it be lovely to have a period of time when you simply don’t have to worry about finding the money each month to pay your mortgage? When you don’t have to put money aside from your monthly income, or worry about having to afford other essential outgoings?

Which book character do you share cleaning habits with?

Whether you have more in common with put-upon Cinderella, emotionally turbulent Jane Eyre, or easily distracted Mole, you’re sure to appreciate that one lucky winner will receive four sessions of free cleaning. Enter our quiz for your chance to win. All runners up will get £10 off their first clean when making a repeat booking.

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Islington Gazette
e-edition today

Subscribe

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now