It’s been a mixed season so far. While there were the highs, there were lows as well. Here are Arsenal’s 10 worst games of the season.
10. Queen’s Park Rangers 2-1 Arsenal, Premier League, Loftus Road, 31st March 2012
(QPR- Taraabt 22, Diakite 66; Arsenal- Walcott 37)
After going on a 7 game winning striker, beating the likes of Tottenham, Liverpool and Newcastle on the way, QPR released all the steam that Arsenal had with a determined performance at Loftus Road. Adel Taraabt hoodwinked Thomas Vermaelen, to open the scoring, before Theo Walcott netted in front of an empty net, after his initial shot rebounded off the post. QPR maintained good pressure, and Samba Diakite scored the second goal, to seal 3 points against a lacklustre Arsenal.
9. Blackburn Rovers 4-3 Arsenal, Premier League, Ewood Park, 17th September 2011
(Blackburn- Yakubu 25, 59, Song (OG) 50, Koscielny (OG) 68; Arsenal- Gervinho 10, Arteta 34, Chamakh 85)
Coming into the game, Blackburn were bottom of the heap, while Arsenal had picked up just 4 points from 4 games, 3 of those coming in the 1-0 win against Swansea. One of the strangest games of the season, Arsenal managed to lose despite being 2-1 ahead at half-time. New boy Gervinho opened the scoring after being sent through by Alex Song. A deft finish from Yakubu levelled scores minutes later. However, advantage was restored as Mikel Arteta scored from inside the box. In the second half, the Gunners fell like a pack of cards. Alex Song scored off a Rueben Rochina free-kick, disastrously, into his own net. Yakubu scored again heading off Martin Olsson’s cross. And 10 minutes later, Arsenal’s zonal marking policy seemed to be suffering, after Koscielny, too, disastrously, put the ball into his own net. The score was 4-2 and Blackburn fans were rubbing their eyes in disbelief and in luck. Marrouane Chamakh scored late on, but 4-3 was the final score on a puzzling afternoon in the rain.
8. Arsenal 0-2 Liverpool, Premier League, Emirates Stadium, 20th August 2011
(Liverpool- Ramsey (OG) 78, Suarez 90)
With Fabregas gone to Barcelona over the summer, and the Gunners suffering from various suspensions and injuries, Liverpool heaped on the misery for Arsene Wenger and his team. Samir Nasri, who was close to moving to Manchester City, was selected to start. Emmanuel Frimpong started in place of the suspended Alex Song, while new signing Carl Jenkinson, a right-back started at left-back. Injuries mounted in the 15th minute, when Laurent Koscielny was replaced by young Spaniard Ignasi Miquel. Thin on resources, Arsenal were at the receiving end of Liverpool’s forays. However, the confidence grew as the match wore on, with Samir Nasri silencing his detractors, with some fine play in midfield. Frimpong and van Persie forced further saves from Reina. It all wound downhill when Emmanuel Frimpong lunged at Lucas and received his second yellow card. Kenny Dalglish sensed his opportunity and sent on Luis Suarez and Raul Meireles instantly. 7 minutes later, Liverpool got their slice of luck, when Miquel’s clearance struck Aaron Ramsey, to chip over Szczesny into the net. Suarez’s late second only helped heap misery on the North Londoners.
7. Swansea City 3-2 Arsenal, Premier League, Liberty Stadium, 15th January 2012
(Swansea- Sinclair (pen)16, Dyer 57, Graham 70; Arsenal- van Persie 5, Walcott 69)
Swansea completely outplayed the Gunners, in Wales. Joe Allen and Leon Britton ran the show in midfield. Arsenal took an early lead in the 5th minute, through Robin van Persie. Scott Sinclair equalized 10 minutes later from the spot. Nathan Dyer scored a fine goal after half-time. Theo Walcott equalized when he was sent through. But, within no time, Gylfi Sigurdsson set up Danny Graham for the winner.
6. Fulham 2-1 Arsenal, Premier League, Craven Cottage, 2nd January 2012
(Fulham- Sidwell 85, Zamora 90+2′; Arsenal- Koscielny 21)
Fulham dealt a late suckerpunch to Arsenal, on a cold night in January. Arsenal took the lead through a Koscielny header, and managed to keep the lead well, and maintained some good pressure for the rest of the half. The second half, however, was a different ball game, as Fulham constantly pressurized the makeshift Arsenal defence. With Djourou and Coquelin playing as full-backs, Fulham created many chances on goal. Djourou got sent off harshly, and former Arsenal midfielder Steve Sidwell equalized for the Cottagers. Deep into injury time, Zamora scored the winner.
5. Arsenal 1-2 Manchester United, Premier League, Emirates Stadium, 22nd January 2012
(Arsenal – van Persie 71; Manchester United- Valencia 46, Wellbeck 81)
Manchester United heaped more pressure on Arsene Wenger with a clinical performance at the Emirates. In a first half, where Arsenal were sloppy and United confident in their game, Valencia got the better of Vermaelen late on in the half, to send the visitors into the lead. Arsenal responded well in the second half, with young Oxlade-Chamberlain running the show for the Gunners. Arsenal got their equalizer when Koscielny, Rosicky, Chamberlain, all linked up to set up van Persie. However, what followed infuriated the Arsenal faithful. Wenger bought off the brilliant Chamberlain, and replaced him with the out-of-sorts Andrei Arshavin, who was partly at fault for Wellbeck’s winner, 9 minutes from time.
4. Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 Arsenal, Premier League, White Hart Lane, 2nd October 2011
(Tottenham- van der Vaart 40, Walker 73; Arsenal- Ramsey 51 )
Probably one of the most entertaining North London derby, in terms of the quality that was on display. Szczesny made a fine save off Scott Parker in the opening exchanges of the game. Arsenal made a mockery of their poor start to the season, as they started to grow in confidence, and indulged in some fine play during the game. Walcott, Ramsey and Gervinho all missed fine chances, before Rafael van der Vaart handed Spurs the lead, despite handling the ball in the build-up, 5 minutes before half-time. 6 minutes in the second, Arsenal got the equalizer they deserved, with Aaron Ramsey’s short-range finish. Both teams involved in some frenetic end-to-end stuff, with Spurs likely to score. Which they did. Kyle Walker’s long-range effort completely bedazzled Szczesny and Arsenal for a 2-1 Spurs win.
3. Sunderland 2-0 Arsenal, FA Cup 5th Round, Stadium of Light, 18th February 2012
(Sunderland- Richardson 40, Oxlade-Chamberlain (O.G)78)
Having been trounced in Italy 3 days earlier, a weary Arsenal were well beaten by Sunderland, on a tractor pitch in the FA Cup. Sunderland took the lead through a deflected shot by Kieran Richardson. Despite some brief response from the Gunners, Sunderland sealed the win after Larsson’s shot was turned in, rather unfortunately by the impressive Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, into his own net.
2. AC Milan 4-0 Arsenal, Champions League Round of 16 1st Leg, San Siro, 15th February 2012
(AC Milan- Boateng 15, Robinho 39,49, Ibrahimovic (pen)79)
Arsenal were well and truely beaten by the Italian giants, AC Milan, on a pitch tailor made to suit their needs, and to disrupt Arsenal’s strengths. However, the Gunners didn’t have any cause for complaint as they were meted out an Ibrahimovic masterclass. Milan took the lead, through Ghanian Kevin Prince Boateng, who unleashed a thunderbolt past Szczesny. Ibrahimovic then set up Robinho twice, before completing the rout himself by winning and converting a penalty.
1. Manchester United 8-2 Arsenal, Premier League, Old Trafford, 28th August 2011
(Manchester United- Wellbeck 22, Young 28, 90+1, Rooney 41, 64, (Pen) 82, Nani 67, Park 70; Arsenal- Walcott 45+3, van Persie 74 )
The scoreline in this one is enough reason why this tops the list, of Arsenal’s worst matches of 2011. Considering that Arsenal had just 2 shots less than their rivals, is a pointer that nothing went right on a humiliating afternoon in Manchester. Arsenal were short on all fronts, with Vermaelen, Sagna, Gibbs, Gervinho, Song all out, owing to injury or suspension. However, the Gunners had nothing to complain as United took the game to the North London side, right from the word go. Young Danny Wellbeck opened the scoring with his head in the 22nd minute. Arsenal were thrown a lifeline when Howard Webb awarded them a penalty after Johnny Evans bought down Theo Walcott. van Persie stepped up, but was denied by a fine save from David de Gea. Ashley Young made Arsenal pay for their profligacy, with a fine shot that busted the net. Minutes before half-time, Wayne Rooney curled in a fine free-kick. Theo Walcott made it 3-1 on the stroke of half-time to give the Gunners some hope. But, all hopes came down crashing in the second half as United ripped them apart with some devastating attacking football. Wayne Rooney linked with Ashley Young to make the score 4-1. 3 minutes later, Nani nonchalantly chipped Szczesny. And again, after the same time interval, Park Ji-Sung continued his fine scoring run against Arsenal with an unstoppable shot. van Persie got Arsenal’s second consolation goal to make it 6-2. But, United were not yet done. Carl Jenkinson was sent off for fouling Mexican Javier Hernandez in the penalty box. Wayne Rooney scored off the ensuing penalty. Young drove the final nail in Arsenal’s coffin as he curled in a spectacular goal with his left-foot. A visibly hurt Arsene Wenger quietly trudged back to the dressing room to end the worst game, Arsenal played in living memory.