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Arsenal Season In Review: Missed Opportunity

afc-time-for-changeBy finishing second Arsenal might have secured their highest Premier League finish since 2004/05, but to most Arsenal fans this was a season of missed opportunity. With traditional title contenders Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United all embroiled in their own struggles this season, the door was open for Arsene Wenger’s side to pick up their first title in more than a decade. But they let the opportunity slip through their fingers, finishing 10 points behind champions Leicester.

The Numbers

  • Finishing position: 2nd (+1)
  • Total points: 71 (-4)
  • FA Cup: Quarter-finals
  • Capital One Cup: Fifth round
  • Top scorer: Olivier Giroud (16)
  • WhoScored Top Rating: Alexis Sanchez (7.72)

Season Review
Another frustrating season for Arsenal began in inauspicious circumstances when Petr Cech, their only new signing of the summer, gifted West Ham two goals in a shock opening day defeat at the Emirates Stadium.

It immediately dampened the optimism around the club, and while the Gunners responded by winning three of their next four games, they suffered another 2-0 defeat to Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea on September 19 which raised familiar questions about their title credentials.

The pressure was on after their stuttering start to the season, but Arsenal enjoyed their best period of the campaign before Christmas, winning 11 out of 14 Premier League games, including meetings with Leicester, Manchester United and Manchester City.

Back-to-back wins over Bournemouth and Newcastle saw them start the New Year two points above Leicester at the top of the table. With Chelsea, City, United and Liverpool struggling, Arsene Wenger’s men became title favorites, but their challenge faded rapidly amid mounting injuries and poor form.

A costly four-game winless run began with Joe Allen’s last minute equaliser in a 3-3 draw with Liverpool, and the slump continued after that. There were dismal losses to Manchester United and Swansea, and by the time of their insipid 1-1 draw with Crystal Palace on April 17, they were 13 points off the top and the title challenge was over.

For all that, however, the season still ended on a high as the Gunners pipped Tottenham to second place. Wenger’s men cruised to a 4-0 win over Aston Villa as Spurs were thrashed 5-1 by Newcastle, leaving Arsenal to celebrate St Totteringham’s Day.

Stats of the season

  • Arsenal scored an average of just 1.6 goals per game at home this season in the Premier League, their lowest return since 1994-95.
  • Olivier Giroud went 881 minutes without scoring in the Premier League between January and May.
  • Mesut Özil has created more chances in a single season (146) than any player in any of Europe’s top five leagues since Opta started recording data in 1996.
  • Arsenal have now secured a top-four finish for 20 consecutive top-flight seasons. Only Man Utd (22) in 2012/13 have managed more.
  • Arsenal secured their highest Premier League finish since 2004/05.