2004/05 – The team was still largely comprised of the Invincibles but the core of the future was being secured; Wenger started Fabregas in the Charity shield and bought in Almunia, Flamini, and Eboue. Vieira won the FA Cup with the last kick of the season. Thierry Henry scored 30 goals. Arsenal finished 2nd that season, behind the rampant Chelsea, with new manager Jose Mourinho at the helm. Chelsea lost only one time that season, the closest that Jose would ever come to going an entire season unbeaten.
2005/06 – Arsenal’s last season at Highbury. Wenger sold Vieira that summer and the dismantling of the Invincibles began in earnest. Wenger added Bendtner, Hleb, Mannone, and Traore in the summer and dipped into the transfer market again in January, picking up Diaby, Adebayor, and Theo Walcott. As you can see with the flurry of transfer activity, this was a crazy season for Arsenal. Marking their last season at Highbury, Arsenal played in a maroon strip which was supposed to be the same colors they had worn in 1916. Thierry Henry was still the leading scorer with 33 goals but times had changed in midfield where Wenger handed the responsibility over from Vieira to 18 year old Cesc Fabregas. Arsenal finished fourth on the final day of the season, thanks to a Thierry Henry hat-trick against Wigan and thanks to some food poisoning of Tottenham Hotspurs. This was the infamous “lasagna” season. Arsenal also reached the final of the Champions League, beating Real Madrid along the way, only to lose to Barcelona thanks in large part to a red card for Lehmann and a flubbed goal by Thierry Henry.
2006/07 – Arsenal finished 4th again, though this time there was an 8 point cushion between Arsenal and Tottenham. In attack, the Gunners lost Pires (sold) and Bergkamp (retired) that summer and also lost Reyes in a player swap deal for Julio Baptista. Wenger’s defense also took massive hits, losing Ashley Cole, who was tapped up by Mourinho, and Sol Campbell, who claimed he wanted to play on the continent and then signed for Pompey. Arsenal still had Thierry Henry but the Frenchman cut an ugly figure when he featured for the club; often criticizing his teammates on the pitch, waving his arms around, and showing disappointment at nearly every turn. Henry was also injured for much of the season and Robin van Persie was Arsenal’s leading scorer that year with a whopping 13 goals. Arsenal’s fourth place finish here was a testament to how weak the League was, Arsenal lost four key players, plus Henry to injury, and still managed a 4th place finish. Along with Baptista, Wenger brought in William Gallas, Alex Song, and the Dread Pirate Denilson.
2007/08 – In the previous season, Arsenal finished 21 points behind Man U. In 2007/08 the gap was just four points marking the first time since 2004 that Arsenal had a serious title run. Wenger sold Thierry Henry that summer and brought in a little known Croatian striker named Eduardo. Freed from the oppressive glare of Henry, Adebayor scored 30 goals for Arsenal though at the crucial moment when Arsenal needed him most, the goals dried up and the Gunners went on a run of five draws, two losses, and one win which knocked them out of the title race. That poor run followed on the heels of Taylor’s horrific tackle on Eduardo, which left the Croatian striker with his leg dangling by sinew. If Adebayor had stepped up his game, Eduardo’s broken leg wouldn’t have been so costly. Arsenal finished 3rd in a bitterly disappointing season. Tottenham beat Arsenal 5-1 in a League Cup match and made a DVD of the game to sell to their supporters.
2008/09 – Back into the turmoil. Wenger lost Flamini and Gilberto this summer. Instead of a seasoned professional replacing them was Song and Denilson in midfield. Wenger did buy Aaron Ramsey and Samir Nasri that summer but neither player would provide the type of firepower that was needed for Arsenal to challenge for the title. Meanwhile, Adebayor did his disappearing act and threw a tantrum about his contract after having been tapped up by Moneybags Man City. As January rolled around, Wenger realized that through injury (van Persie) and profligacy (Adebayor) he would need to buy an attacking player. That purchase was Andrei Arshavin. Arshavin was enough to hold off an assault on 4th place by the pundit’s favorite, Aston Villa, who finished 10 points behind Arsenal.
2009/10 – Arsenal sort of found some feet this season, though once again they sold key players: Kolo Toure was shipped off to Man City. Arsenal also lost Adebayor that season, though that turned out to be just shifting the burden. Fabregas was at his imperious best, scoring 19 goals and getting 16 assists and yet again injury to van Persie would hamper their title challenge. Arsenal finished third, staying at or near third from October until May. Wenger bought Vermaelen this season. Arsenal finished 10 points off Chelsea (winners) and 5 points above Tottenham (5th). Arsenal could have challenged for the title but in the final 7 matches of the season, they won 2, lost 3, and drew 2 for a total of 8 points out of a possible 21. And the teams Arsenal played were: Birmingham, Wolves, Spurs, Wigan, Man City, Blackburn, and Fulham. Arsenal lacked attacking power largely because van Persie was out having had his leg broken by Chiellini in November. Instead of an attacking player, Wenger brought in Sol Campbell in January.
2010/11 – Arsenal finish 4th again. This time six points above Tottenham but three behind City who crack into the top four for the first time. Arsenal tried like hell to finish out of the top four this season. In the final 11 games they won 2 and lost 3 (to Stoke, Bolton, and Aston Villa) while drawing 6, gathering just 12 points in their last 11 matches. You could see some good in this team, they beat Barcelona 2-1 in an impressive performance at the Emirates stadium. But in equal measure, this team struggled and was wracked with injuries to Cesc Fabregas and Robin van Persie. This was also the season that Arsenal lost the League Cup final to Birmingham City.
2011/12 – “Imagine the worst situation – we lose Fabregas and Nasri – you cannot convince people you are ambitious after that. And even if you lose Nasri, to find the same quality player, you have to spend again the same amount of money. Because you cannot say, you lose the player and you do not replace him. I believe for us it is important the message we give out. For example, you talk about Fabregas leaving, Nasri leaving. If you give that message out, you cannot pretend you are a big club, because a big club first of all holds onto its big players and gives a message out to all the other big clubs that they just cannot come in and take away from you. We worked very hard with these players for years to develop them, and now it’s a time for us to keep them together.” Both Nasri and Fabregas were sold, Arsenal lost 8-2 to Man U prompting one of the announcers to stutter “this is ARSENAL we are watching here”, and Arsenal finished 3rd on the final day of the season because of a 3-2 win over West Brom, which saw Wenger literally clutching Pat Rice as West Brom blew a wide open chance to tie the match.
Arsenal had to finish third this season in order to retain their Champions League place because Chelsea finished outside of the top four but won the Champions League, meaning that the fourth place team would be relegated to playing football in Azerbaijan. Once again that was Tottenham who finished just 1 point behind Arsenal. Robin van Persie was Arsenal’s hands-down player of the year, golden boot winner, etc. Guess what happens to him? Alex Song leads Arsenal in assists this season, chipping the ball to van Persie a lot.
2012/13 – Van Persie demands a trade, guys. Writing a letter on Independence Day, van Persie says, guys, that, guys, he don’t like the direction the club is going. Read: he was tapped up by Man U in January with promises of huge sponsorship deals if he signed for them. He likes to tell people he “took a pay cut” to join Man U, but in reality while his weekly salary went down, his earnings skyrocketed because of the increased media profile. These are NOT bitter tears.
Wenger buys Giroud, Podolski, and Cazorla in the summer and Nacho Monreal in January. Wenger also manages to sell Alex Song to Barcelona. Where is Alex Song now? He’s a benchwarmer for Rubin Kazan.
Pat Rice retired, meaning that Wenger’s hug was his parting gift. Theo Walcott was Arsenal’s leading scorer this season and Arsenal finished 4th, 1 point above Tottenham again. This was the infamous “negative spiral” season, where Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas predicted his team would topple Arsenal for the first time. The comment came after Arsenal lost 2-1 to Spurs but that loss proved to be a turning point for the Gunners, who won 8 of their last 10 matches.
2013/14 – End of the Deadwood. Wenger shipped out 25 players this season, including long term contract wasters Arshavin, Denilson, Santos, Gervinho, Chamakh, and DENCH. Wenger bought Yaya Sanogo. Giroud led Arsenal in scoring with 22 goals and Ramsey had his one good season with Arsenal, having fully recovered from the Shawcross breaking his leg. Arsenal once again finished 4th. This time 10 points above Spurs in 6th. This summer was notable for Arsenal trying their best to spend £40m, even going so far as to tap up Luis Suarez but failing because he did or did not have a release clause in his contract. On the last day of the summer transfer window, Arsenal bought Mesut Özil. Özil played almost every match for Arsenal until he was injured in the 1-1 loss to Bayern Munich in March. He would feature in the run-in as Arsenal secured fourth with 5 wins in 5 matches.
2014/15 – Arsenal bought Alexis Sanchez from Barcelona which prompted known ass Tancredi Palmeri to tweet:
Arsenal gonna pay 38m € for Alexis Sanchez??? Barcelona won the lottery
— Tancredi Palmeri (@tancredipalmeri) July 9, 2014
Arsenal also managed to snag Danny Welbeck from Man U. Alexis and Özil weren’t enough to get Arsenal into a title challenge, Alexis was getting used to the League and Özil spent October to January out with an injury.
Arsenal finished 3rd, five points above 4th pace Man U.
2015/16 – Coulda been a contender. Remember that night you came down into my dressing room and said, kid, this aint your night. Remember that? This aint my night? We coulda taken Leicester City apart. Instead they got a title shot outside in the park and what did we get? A one-way ticket to palookaville.
Arsenal rocketed into first place by December thanks to Özil’s 15 assists from the start of the season to January. The Gunners held on to first almost all the way to February, losing on the last day of January 1-0 to Chelsea and dropping from first to third. Third and even possibly fourth was closer to where Arsenal belonged as Özil ran out of gas and Alexis proved incapable of carrying the team alone.
As if to provide Arsenal supporters with at least one bit of humor, Arsenal finished 2nd, 1 point above Tottenham, once again thanks to some last minute miracles. Spurs lost the final game of the season to relegation bound Newcastle and Arsenal once again finished a point above their North London rivals.