So in the end season 7 finished ended on a high, but not the high I had hoped for. With 7 league games to go we locked together on 70 points with Man Utd with a home game against the Red Devils looming on the last day of the season. At that point we also had a Champions League quarter final against PSG to deal with.
We started with an away trip to Liverpool, easily our most difficult game in the run-in (aside from United, obviously). A decent 1-1 draw at Anfield was made all the better as United drew away to Swansea. I’d rested a fair few players as well with the midweek trip to Paris next up and we got a great 0-0 draw over there. Bournemouth were then dispatched 3-0 and, yet again, United matched our result against Crystal Palace.
The return leg against PSG was surprisingly straight forward as an Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain double and a rare goal from Shkodran Mustafi saw us into the Champions League semi-finals. Alongside us in the last four was Man City, Monaco and Man Utd. Of course we got Man Utd. That would mean 3 of our last 5 (hopefully 6) games of the season would be against the Mancunians, we would define each others season.
Back in the league Everton were dispatched 2-0 with United beating Norwich 4-1. Was someone going to blink before the big game on the last day? Yes, and it would be us. An away trip to 17th placed Palace shouldn’t have worried us but the Champions League semi was the following Wednesday so I chose to rest, well, everybody. Laurent Koscielny, who is retiring at the end of the season, even made his first league start of the season. It was a big mistake. Despite taking the lead through wonderkid Conor Ashton after 2 minutes we then crumbled. 2-1 down at half-time we ultimately lost 4-1 and Palace missed a penalty. Had they scored that penalty it would’ve been the worst result of my career, that is currently a 4-0 defeat to Juventus while at Siena. Seems like a long time ago now. Man U didn’t take full advantage though as they drew 0-0 away to Burnley but they did have the upper hand now as a draw in that final game would suit them, previously our greater goal difference was keeping us on top.
Off to Old Trafford it was the the 1st leg of the semi. We were shit. Again we took a very early lead, thanks to Aaron Ramsey, but again we crumbled, this time escaping with only a 3-1 loss. It just about kept us in the tie but I was worried our season was in grave danger of petering out. We needed a reaction and, thankfully, we got it as Norwich were pumped 6-1 at home. It was helped that they had two straight reds for horror tackles. United also won, 4-1 against West Brom.
In fairness we never looked like getting back into the 2nd leg of the semi-final and Marcus Rashford scored the only of the game after 23 minutes. The dream was over for another season. Incidentally, Marcus Rashford is the 2nd most expensive player in the save, after Bosnian Nikola Vidovic, interesting to know if that’s the same in Ronnie’s save? Also, he always scores against me. ALWAYS.
A fairly straight forward 2-1 away win against West Brom set us up for the big finale. However, big news, United had lost 1-0 away to Leicester. This put us back in pole position as a draw was now good enough for us. It was a tense opening 40 minutes before the Gunners were awarded a stonewall penalty. Mathias Simoncelli, who had missed his previous 2 penalties including one against David De Gea in the semi-final, stepped up and smashed it straight down the middle as De Gea dived to his left. As the fans celebrated Man Utd attacked straight from kick-off but Mustafi made a brilliant interception and we broke up the park and the Ox added a second. 2 goals in less than 60 seconds, the title was ours.
Despite winning the Premier League, League Cup, Community Shield and European Super Cup it was still a little disappointing to come up short in the Champions League. Not a lot of changes to be made but I think I do want a new centre mid and we will need to replace back-up keeper Jack Butland who is off to RB Leipzig on a free.
We dominated the end of season awards. I got Manager of the Year, van Heulen got Golden Glove and van Heulen, Hector Bellerin, Nathaniel Cook, Mustafi, Lucas Digne and Gustavo Menacho all got in the team of the season. But Menacho wasn’t finished. The 22 year-old left winger finished the season with 24 goals and 12 assists from 44 apperances with an overall average rating of 7.62 and ended up winning:
- PFA Young Player of the Year
- PFA Player of the Year
- PFA Team of the Season
- FWA Footballer of the Year
- Arsenal Fans Player of the Year
- Arsenal Fans Young Player of the Year
- Arsenal Team of the Season
Pretty impressive and looking at his history I don’t think he’s a regen.
In other news I gained my Continental Pro Licence and now have a 4 star reputation. Man Utd went on to win the Champions League, their 4th win in 5 years. They’re beginning to annoy me.