The best and worst of Arsenal in 2013

Arsenal Laurent Koscielny (right) celebrates scoring the opening goal at Newcastle

Arsenal Laurent Koscielny (right) celebrates scoring the opening goal at Newcastle - Credit: PA Archive/Press Association Images

Trying to second guess Arsenal has proved a futile exercise in recent years. But 2013 has, on the whole, seen some stability and success (if you ignore the lack of silverware). Jem Maidment gives a totally unscientific, swivel-eyed assessment of the year they finally off-loaded Marouane Chamakh – and reversed that infamous “negative spiral” …


Jack Wilshere against Norwich – poetry in motion. A slick move starting and ending with Wilshere, who slotted past John Ruddy before the Norwich keeper even had time to get his pants on.

Like Dennis Bergkamp’s wondergoal at Newcastle in 2002 – Nikos Dabizas is still untangling himself from that one, by the way – some questioned if Wilshere really meant the backheel to Olivier Giroud in the lead-up.

But then those people are idiots.


Well, they say Per Mertesacker is head and shoulders above everyone (geddit?) and his partner Laurent Koscielny has been outstanding, but the kid from Caerphilly is the big cheese on this one (groan).

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Aaron Ramsey has had an extraordinary year. Strong, energetic, technically superb and with an eye for goal, he is nothing like compatriot midfielder Peter Nicholas (one for older Gooners there) and more like a modern day Bryan Robson. And after snapping his leg, he has shown himself to be ‘Taff’ as old boots. Expect Barca to come knocking…


Phew. Dortmund away was pretty special. Ditto Munich. And Spurs at home in August. Napoli at home saw the Gunners’ best 45 minutes of the season so far.

But who could forget the last game of last season at Newcastle – Koscielny’s second- half winner condemning Spurs to Thursday night European football (a thought which immediately puts an icy hand around your heart)?


In a departure from previous years, this award goes to a former employee of another club.

3 March, 2013. Andre Villas-Boas, seven points clear of Arsenal and feeling rather smug:

“The difference from last year is we (Tottenham) are on an upward spiral in terms of confidence and they (Arsenal) are in a negative spiral in terms of results. And to get out of that negative spiral is extremely difficult.”

Oh the impetuousness of youth!

n Arsenal finished above Tottenham for the 18th successive season. AVB is currently looking for a job.


It was going to be Nicklas Bendtner – to most, a £500,000 striker, but in his head better than Suarez, Messi and Ronaldo rolled together – for arrogantly lapping up the applause following his header against Hull (his first goal for Arsenal since Herbert Chapman signed him to give David Jack some competition up front).

But then Ashley Cole pitched up at Arsenal’s Christmas party. His unwelcome appearance at a club he treated so shoddily even usurped the sight of Theo Walcott and Kieran Gibbs dressed as Bananas In Pyjamas (one for the Junior Gunners there) in the rub-your-eyes-and-take-a-second-look stakes.

I nearly veered off the road in disgust …


Deluded Bendtner remains a popular choice (or unpopular, depending on your point of view).

But Andre Santos (pictured left) is the clear winner; overweight and always looking like he has slept through his alarm.

The only technically poor Brazilian in world football, he stank the place out and was shipped home – the footballing equivalent of a quick injection in the paw.


The 6-3 at Manchester City was not the game for half the team to have a collective off-day. But that said, we had two goals chalked off and a stonewall pen turned down. Then there was the 2-1 defeat at Spurs, but we all know that eventually had a happy ending.

But let’s go for the 3-1 shocker to Villa in August. Disjointed and disorganised, it was the grimmest start to the campaign imaginable. Abuse poured down the stands as Wenger sat on a fat pile of cash. One £42.4m signing and seven successive wins later it was all forgotten …