The 2010/2011 season was the campaign Arsenal fans saw their team get so close to the finish line.
By February 2011, Arsenal was chasing an unprecedented quadruple. However, a shocking loss to Birmingham City in the Carling Cup final proved the turning point in Arsenal’s campaign.
Exits in the Champions League and FA Cup at the hands of Barcelona and Manchester United followed suit. From fighting on four fronts to only one, Arsenal’s last hope was in the top-flight title. A spirited fight lasted up to game week 31, but unfortunately, the wheels came off, with the Gunners finishing the season in fourth place.
However, that’s not to say there weren’t positives from a spirited campaign. The Gunners’ sleek passing game was a highlight that even rattled La Liga giants Barcelona, not forgetting the emergence of talent with the likes of Jack Wilshere.
For the betting folk, punters who had the Gunners in second place by March 2011 cashed out big time thanks to competitive odds from the best betting sites. With the Premier League becoming competitive year after year, the stakes will be high.
So, what are some of the talking points from Arsene Wenger’s team in the 2010/2011 outing?
1. Robin Van Persie’s Goal Galore
Van Persie may have missed most of the first half of the season, but his eye for goal remained lethal. He made his comeback in December 2010 against London rivals Chelsea to steer the Gunners to a comfortable 3-1 win.
Apart from outscoring the likes of Fernando Torres, Rooney and Drogba, Van Persie scored the first hat trick of his career against Wigan Athletic. His 18 Premier League goals were only bested by Manchester United’s Carlos Tevez and Dimitar Berbatov, who had 20 apiece.
Remember, Van Persie’s 18 Premier League goals only came in 25 appearances in the competition. He may have clinched the Golden Boot had he played in all 38 games.
2. Laurent Koscielny Solid Defence Impression
In the summer of 2010, Arsenal lost a chunk of its defence with the departures of Mikael Silvestre, William Gallas and Sol Campbell. Wenger had to venture out for replacements and brought in Sevilla’s Sebastian Squillaci and Lorient’s Laurent Koscielny.
Squillaci proved a flop, but Koscielny managed to mark his presence in the backline despite a rough start. Koscielny formed a formidable partnership with Johan Djourou, forming one of the league’s best defences, keeping Chelsea’s and Barcelona’s lethal strike force at bay.
A combination of his heading abilities, pace and physicality made Laurent a bargain buy for Wenger, considering 2010/11 was his first Premier League outing.
3. The Rise of Jack Wilshere
Jack Wilshere brought a swagger to the Arsenal midfield not seen in a while. After a successful loan spell at Bolton Wanderers, Wilshere dazzled the Emirates with his fascinating dribbling skills, intricate footwork and surging runs.
His commitment was second to none, earning plaudits for his midfield performance in their loss in the Champions League second leg against Barcelona.
4. Johan Djourou’s Resurgence From Injury
The 2009/2010 season saw Djourou suffer a severe knee injury, only making a debut in the last match against Fulham. Many doubted whether he would hit the ground running in 2010/2011, but his partnership with Koscielny proved a masterstroke.
Even in the absence of Thomas Vermaelen, Djourou’s presence at the back ensured the Gunners conceded only two goals in nine games. The knee injury made him shaky at the start, but as games progressed, Johan and Laurent formed an excellent defensive partnership.
5. Theo Walcott Silences His Critics
Walcott has always endured harsh criticism from different corners, whether it’s the media, pundits or fans alike. 2010/2011 saw a whole new level to Walcott’s game. He utilised his blistering pace to devastating effect, creating chances for his peers and scoring goals.
Notable games where Theo performed well were against Chelsea and Barcelona, with then coach Guardiola saying that a pistol couldn’t stop Walcott.
6. Samir Nasri, The Midfield Maestro
Nasri arrived at the Emirates from Marseille for a then-club record fee in the summer of 2008. During the first half of 2010/2011, Nasri managed to hold the reigns without the injured Van Persie and Fabregas. His two goals against Fulham were Arsenal’s best goals that season.
His consistency was on another level, with dribbling skills only bettered by Wilshere, and he had a knack for goal, registering 15 goals in 46 appearances.
7. Enter Wojciech Szczęsny and Lukasz Fabianski
The two Polish shot-stoppers slotted in seamlessly when Manuel Almunia got an injury. Fabianski became the first-choice goalkeeper, and despite a shocker against Newcastle, showed his mettle with consistent performances, even saving points against Wolves and Everton.
Szczesny’s chance came when Fabianski, like Almunia, suffered an injury leaving him as the sole keeper for the Gunners. The then 20-year-old took the bull by its horns with exciting performances against Barcelona and the Red Devils.
8. Blistering Away Form
Home form doesn’t suffice in a 38-game campaign, with away wins equally essential. Arsenal had a decent return of 31 points from their away games, with notable wins at Villa Park, Goodison Park and St. Andrews. The Gunners were better on the road, which made them have a valiant fight for the title towards the finish line.
But ultimately everything fell apart when it mattered….