2006–07 marked a transitional period — Arsenal had sold a string of key players, including Ashley Cole, Sol Campbell, Lauren, Fredrik Ljungberg, and most significantly, all-time top scorer and club captain Thierry Henry to FC Barcelona. Arsenal went into 2007–08 season with only four players from the title-winning season in 2003–04, with the likes of Cesc Fàbregas and Gaël Clichy establishing their places in the side.
Arsenal started the season strongly, going undefeated until early December, and in the process, setting a club record of 28 matches unbeaten in all competitions. The young squad continued to impress into the new year, with Emmanuel Adebayor being in excellent scoring form. But Eduardo, a player of growing importance to the club, suffered a horrific injury at St Andrews in Birmingham and the subsequently drew the game 2–2. The team were rocked and, inevitably, Arsenal slumped in the spring, and eventually finished third. They had little success in the cups, knocked out of the Champions League by Liverpool in the quarter-finals and the FA Cup by Manchester United. The League Cup was more fruitful, where Arsenal reached the semi-finals for a third season in a row, before being knocked out 6–2 on aggregate by Tottenham Hotspur, their first defeat in a North London derby in almost nine years.
Arsenal’s 2008–09 season started well, reaching top of the table by late September. After that, the team lost momentum, with three defeats in November, and had dropped out of the top four by Christmas, despite victories over Manchester United and Chelsea. Arsenal continued to drop points in the league in the New Year, but eventually overtook Aston Villa to regain fourth place by mid-March, eventually finishing nine points clear. Arsenal also reached the semi-finals of the FA Cup, losing to Chelsea 2–1 in their first game at the new Wembley Stadium. In Europe, they finished second in their group and beatRoma and Villarreal before losing 4–1 on aggregate to Manchester United in the semi-finals.
Despite being written off by much of the media going into the 2009–10 season, Arsenal made a bright start in the Premier League, aided by a new attacking formation and added defensive steel, in the form of holding midfielder Alexandre Song of Cameroon and new signing Thomas Vermaelen of Belgium. Arsenal’s title challenge looked set to end in late November, following losses to Chelsea, Manchester United, and Manchester City, but an impressive run of games in December, aided by Chelsea and Manchester United both dropping points, restored momentum to Arsenal’s title challenge going into 2010. In December, Arsenal were eliminated from the League Cup at the quarter-final stage by Manchester City.
After being written out of the title race once in the 2009–10 Premier League season by pundits, Arsenal headed into a tough period of matches from 27 January through 10 February, in which they faced Aston Villa, Manchester United, Chelsea, and Liverpool all in a row. After losing to Stoke City in the FA Cup 3–1, Arsenal drew Aston Villa 0–0, got thrashed 3–1 at home by Manchester United, and lost at Chelsea 2–0. At the time, it left Arsenal nine points behind league leaders Chelsea. Again, Arsenal were written off in their title hopes, only for it to be resurrected once again, after Chelsea lost to Everton2–1, Manchester City 4–2, and drew with Blackburn Rovers 1–1. Meanwhile, Manchester United also dropped points, drawing with Aston Villa 1–1 and also losing to Everton 3–1. Following Arsenal’s 2–0 loss to Chelsea on 7 February, Arsenal went on a good run, winning all of their league games up to 20 March. On 27 February, however, a major injury to Welsh midfielder Aaron Ramsey occurred; it was eerily reminiscent of Eduardo‘s injury against Birmingham City on 23 February. Whereas Arsenal, however, drew against Birmingham City that year 2–2 following a penalty call against Gaël Clichy in injury time (in which James McFadden converted the penalty and left then-captain William Gallas kicking at an advertisement board and in tears) and questioned Arsenal’s fragile team mentality, Arsenal managed to rally against Stoke City 3–1, having scored a penalty from captain Cesc Fàbregas in the 90th minute, and defender Thomas Vermaelen scoring a third in injury time. As of 25 March, Arsenal are in third place with 67 points, two points behind league leaders Manchester United with 31 games played.
Arsenal’s Champions League match against F.C. Porto in the first leg did not go so well; played at the Estádio do Dragão in Porto on 17 February 2010, the first goal was scored by the home side. In the 11th minute of the match, stand-in goalkeeper Łukasz Fabiański (for the injured Manuel Almunia) pushed a cross from Silvestre Varela into his own net, resulting in a quick 1–0 lead for Porto. In the 18th minute, however, Sol Campbell, making his first Champions League appearance for Arsenal since the 2006 Champions League Final, scored a header from Thomas Vermaelen’s headed flick and Tomáš Rosický‘s headed setup from a corner delivered by Cesc Fàbregas. This gave Arsenal a possibly vital away goal; things, however, got worse for Arsenal, as miscommunication by Campbell and Fabiański led to the goalie picking up what was judged a deliberate back pass to the goal keeper inside the 18-yard box. As a result, the referee gave a free kick to Porto inside Arsenal’s penalty area. Rúben Micael took the resulting quick free-kick directly, catching the Arsenal defense and goalie off-guard and squared a pass to the Colombian Falcao, scoring an easy goal. The game ended with the score at full-time Porto 2 – Arsenal 1.
Arsenal’s second leg against Porto fared much better. Played at the Emirates Stadium on 9 March, Arsenal needed at least one goal and a clean sheet to advance, with the aggregate score 2–1 for Porto and away aggregate 1–0 for Arsenal. Things started off brightly for Arsenal, as Nicklas Bendtner scored in the 10th and 25th minute, before Samir Nasri scored a fantastic goal in the 66th minute, dribbling past three defenders on the far right side touchline before scoring from an acute angle, hitting the goal keeper’s right post and into the net. Three minutes later, Emmanuel Eboué managed to score on a counter-attack, dribbling past goalkeeper Helton before tucking the ball into an empty net. The night ended with Bendtner scoring a penalty in the 90th minute, thus giving him his first senior professional hat-trick, and Arsenal advancing to the quarter-finals of the Champions League 6–2 on aggregate. Ironically, Bendtner had missed a number of easy chances the game before Porto against Burnley; Arsenal, however, managed to win 3–1 in that game.
On 19 March 2010, Arsenal drew FC Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals. The first of the two-legged match was played on 31 March at Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium; it marked Thierry Henry‘s return to the Emirates Stadium for the first time as an opponent of Arsenal. The second leg was played on 6 April at the Camp Nou and marked Cesc Fàbregas‘s return to the Catalan giants, where he played in their youth squad. If Arsenal prevailed past Barcelona, they would face the winner of the CSKA Moscow – Internazionale match. In their first leg match at Emirates, Arsenal drew 2–2 with Barcelona, with goals from Theo Walcott and captain Cesc Fàbregas. The second leg at the Nou Camp did not go as well, even though Nicklas Bendtner scored early on. Lionel Messi scored an impressive four times to end the game with an aggregate score of 6–3 in favour of Barcelona, ultimately knocking Arsenal out of the Champions League.
Arsenal finished the season in third place, their 15th successive top-five finish and the 13th successive season they had achieved qualification for the Champions League. It was also their fifth successive trophyless season, however, something of a disappointment considering this trophyless spell was preceded by five trophy winning seasons from a possible eight (including two seasons where they won the double).
2010–11 saw Arsenal perform well in the Premier League and compete strongly in a title challenge, alongside Manchester United. To prove such a challenge, they faced struggling Champions Chelsea on 27 December and mauled them 3–1 at Emirates. Good form continued in the following months and in February manager Arsène Wenger was awarded Manager of the Month Award. Notable events in this month was the 2–1 win over Barcelona, in which the team came from behind to seal a win, and the 4–4 draw against Newcastle that is widely regarded to be one of the most bizarre and great games of the Premier League era. They progressed to the final of the League Cup but were beaten by Birmingham City, ruining their chances of winning a trophy. After this embarrassment, the Gunners went to the Nou Camp to play the second leg of the Barca tie, where they were beaten by the three time winners and eventual victors. Their FA Cup quest ended with defeat in the quarter-finals to Manchester United. Also, completing a miserable couple of weeks for the Gunners, their title hopes were ended when they lost 2–1 to Bolton away in April 2011. After challenging for the title for the majority of the season, Arsenal ended up finishing fourth after losses at Stoke and Aston Villa. With the current season, Arsenal have failed to win a single trophy for the 7th consecutive year.
The 2011–12 campaign commenced for Arsenal on 13 August 2011 against Newcastle United in the midst of two major transfers sagas concerning the clubs biggest assets: Fabregas and Nasri departed Arsenal. The game finished 0–0 and neither of the said players were in the named squad, but new signing Gervinho was sent off for violent conduct. However, the team did muster a 1–0 win over Italian outit Udinese in the first leg of a Champions League Playoff.
On 15 August 2011, Francesc Fabregas departed the club for Barcelona for an estimated €35 million and, in addition to his loss, Samir Nasri left for Manchester City on 24 August 2011, ending a protracted transfer saga. The latter had played for Arsenal in their game against Liverpool on 21 August, in which Arsenal lost 2–0, placing them 14th with one draw and one loss. However, they managed to gain qualification for the UEFA Champions League for the upcoming year for the fourteenth time; the only other English Club to boast such a record in recent years is Manchester United. With mounting injury problems and suspensions, the season was already looking bleak for Arsenal, and this was epitomized by an 8–2 mauling at Old Trafford at the hands of Manchester United. Following their collapse early in the season, Arsenal were already written off as title challengers, with some fans suggesting that Arsenal’s long standing manager, Arsène Wenger, be sacked.
After the disappointing result against Manchester United, Arsenal went on a spending spree on the last day of the transfer window, buying Per Mertesacker, Mikel Arteta, André Santos and Yossi Benayoun. Results began to improve, with a win over newly promoted Swansea City, before a Champions League away draw against Borussia Dortmund. Winning in the League Cup against Shrewsbury Town F.C., in the Premier League against Bolton Wanderers F.C. and in the Champions League against Olympiacos F.C. boosted morale around the club, and Arsenal began climbing the league table, after spending a time in the bottom quarter of the table.
Despite losing the first North London Derby of the season against Tottenham, Arsenal continued to gain points, and as of 23 October 2011 were in 7th place in the Premier League. In week that followed, Arsenal managed to extend their good form by beating Chelsea at Stamford Bridge 5-3, with a hat trick from skipper Robin van Persie.
December 2011 saw the announcement of the possible comeback of striker Thierry Henry, Arsenal’s all-time best player and goalscorer, to whom a statue was built, to the club, later signing for two months (the free period of MLS) on loan from New York Red Bulls. On 9 January 2012, Henry sealed his return to Arsenal against Leeds United in the FA Cup, scoring the winning goal after a long pass from Alex Song. However, the joy of having Henry back wouldn’t last long. After scoring in the Premier League against Sunderland in a 2-1 victory, Arsenal suffered a shocking loss of 4-0 to AC Milan in the Champions League, in Henry’s final match with Arsenal, in what proved to be an insurmountable obstacle for the club to overturn. Arsenal were also eliminated from the FA Cup the in fifth round, again against Sunderland, losing 2-0.
In spite of these failures, Arsenal have turned the 2011-12 season into a positive one, almost knocking out AC Milan by winning 3-0 at the Emirates Stadium, and winning 5-2 in the second North London Derbyof the season against Tottenham Hotspur. Arsenal currently lie third in the Premier League table; while not mathematically assured of a place in the 2012-13 UEFA Champions League due to Chelsea F.C.’s continued participation in the Champion’s League, with three weeks to go before the end of the 2011-12 Premier League season, Arsenal have a tentative grip on the third place that would guarantee Arsenal of a place in the 2012-12 UEFA Champion’s League, regardless of Chelsea F.C.’s success in the 2011-12 Champion’s League final.
The beginning of 2012-13 season saw rumours about the possible departure of star player Robin van Persie, since on 4 July 2012 he announced he wouldn’t renew his contract with the club. To this situation Arsène Wenger signed strikers Olivier Giroud from Montpellier and Lukas Podolski from Koln. When van Persie’s transfer to rivals Manchester United was effective, Wenger also purchased Spanish wingerSanti Cazorla. Arsenal were eliminated in the Round of 16 of the 2013 UEFA Champions League 3-3 on away goals against eventual champions Bayern Munich.
Despite being knocked out of the Champions League, Arsenal had a very strong finish to their domestic campaign. After losing the North London Derby, 3-1 to Tottenham on March 13th, Arsenal collected, 26 points over their 10 games. Including a 1-1 draw with Manchester United, and relegating the newly crowned FA Cup winners Wigan Athletic with a 4-1 victory. Arsenal secured fourth place in the Premier League and a Champions League Qualifying spot with a 1-0 nil over Newcastle United. With win came some controversy, as at half-time of the Tottenham, Sunderland game. It was wrongly reported that Newcastle had tied the game. Much to the dismay of Tottenham supporters, when despite their win against Sunderland. Arsenal still finished above them with their win.
The 2013 off-season was quite tumultuous for Arsenal supporters. Before the start of the transfer window, many of the clubs youth players were sold, or left the club. Previous Arsenal record transfer fee holder, Andrei Arshavin went back to Russian club Zenit Saint Petersburg, Denilson to Sao Paulo and Sebastian Squallaci where many of the bigger name players to leave on free transfers. Despite the clubs promised ambitions to make big signings, Arsenal had only captured the signature of 18 year-old Frenchmen, Yaya Sanogo from Auxerre.
Half-way through the summer transfer season the club had a protracted saga with possible signing of Liverpool striker Luis Suarez. The club believed that a bid above 50 million would trigger a release clause. This information was not correct and Suarez remained under contract with Liverpool. In the chase for Suarez, the club was thought to be close to signing Gonzolo Higuan from Real Madrid, who ended up going to Italian side SSC Napoli.
With the 2013-2014 season on the horizon Arsenal sold Ivorian striker Gervinho to AS Roma for an estimated 8.5 million, and keeper Vito Mannone to Sunderland for an estimated 2.5 million.
The club entered the 2013 Emirates Cup against Napoli, drawing 2-2. Then lost to eventual champions Galatasaray 2-1. Arsenal would finish third in the competition on four points.
Arsenal would kick off their 2013/2014 campaign at home against Aston Villa. Things looked to be off to a good start as Oliver Giroud put Arsenal up 1-0 early. Only for the wheels to fall off and lose the match 3-1.
- Premier League Week 10 Team of the Week: Manchester United and Arsenal Stars Feature (swol.co)
- Barclays Premier League Predictions (markmcdougallmedia.wordpress.com)