Sunday 20 May 2018

My 2017 / 2018 Premier League Season Review

In my preview of the 2017/18 season, I got something half wrong. I believed both Manchester United and Manchester City won’t win the Premier League. 

I am glad that my prediction was at least half right. Having a team that dished up the most diabolical football you will ever see since Sam Allardyce’s Bolton, win zero trophies was a very good thing. To then see Chelsea defeat them at Wembley in the FA Cup Final using the most 'Joseic' tactics ever and watching Mourinho bitch and moan about this lose made the season sort of worthwhile. 

Manchester United have been dire and it is a measure of how bad the premier league has been this season that they managed to get second place. When Manchester City defeated United at Old Trafford in December 2017, the difference was eight points. By the end of the season, the gulf in class had grown to 19 points.  Diabolical. 

If you are deluded or caught in the Jose Mourinho warp, you can talk about progress. But winning three “massive” trophies last season to ZERO this term and playing the most turgid football after spending north of £350m is not progress. 

Quit that nonsense about 81 points would have won the league in 6 previous premier league seasons. So was Arsenal’s 75 points last season. It would have guaranteed a top 4 finish in many other seasons. It was only one point behind Liverpool. It was classed a failure then and so is United’s 81 points now. 

For a squad of equal ability to finish 19 points apart is disastrous and no positives should be taken. Certainly not after United lost to all the newly promoted sides and have racked up their 19th‘watching paint dry’ draw since Sir Alex Ferguson retired. Coming 2nd and ending the season with 81 points was no achievement for this expensively assembled side. 

Overall it has been a poor Premier League season. I have seen lots of statistics demonstrating how dire the season was. This stat comparing the 2003/4 season with the 2017/18 season made a huge impression on me. Please see the link here .

“teams from 8th- 20th had more points (in 2003/4) than today including the bottom 6 teams which means the standard of football was better in 03/04”

You can disagree all you want but be clear that the standard of defending is worse now than it was a few years ago. They don’t make Sol Campbell, Steve Bould, Prime Kolo Toure, Steve Bruce, Japp Stam etc. any more.  Consequently attacking sides like Manchester City have benefitted. 

Manchester City winning by record points deserves some applause but their records are diminished. All the pundits expected them to go the next 10 years undefeated, win the quintuple and the world cup but it wasn’t to be. They lost. 

In fact they were torn a new strip by Liverpool at Anfield and by United at the Emptyhad. Yes they have won the league and broken records but the one that matters most remains unbroken. They can have another go at equaling Arsene Wenger & Arsenal’s Invincibles record next season. I will be rooting for them to fall on this particular endeavor. 

As an Arsenal fan, everything that could go wrong this season has. Right from that game at Stoke. The referees set out their marker very early. And they succeeded in derailing our season. God forbid Liverpool win in Kiev. I might just decide to hide away forever. This is one time I am hoping the bookies are right and the officials genuinely have a Real Madrid agenda and will do everything to make 13tha lucky number for Zidane’s Team. 

The season itself started on a great note for me as a Gooner. I was hoping the fresh legs from non-participation in the Europa League by the first eleven will give us some serious boost. It did a bit but not enough. The first game of the premier league season on that Friday night was spectacular with the 4:3 win over Leicester. Our defensive and midfield frailties were apparent but we had the ability to score goals especially with our record signing Alexandre Lacazette. 

Then the referees struck when Lacazette’s equalizer was denied by a phantom offside call at Stoke. We saw glaringly dodgy refereeing decisions again in October at Vicarage Road, in November at the Empythad and when the issue came to a head with that phantom penalty call by Mike Dean of Thieves at West Brom in December. It is perhaps fitting that West Brom have now been relegated. Shame Tony Pulis wasn’t in charge for this one. But our cards were doubly marked from when Arsene called out the Dean of Bent Referees. 

Transfer sagas also played their part in wrecking the season. First it was the ‘will he, wont he’ with ‘significantly improved but still plays a cross field pass to nobody’ Oxlade - Chamberlain. He then decided not to turn up in a match against the team he wanted to join. The Alexis Sanchez circus was also a factor. I think Wenger deserves a Sainthood for bringing two devils in Sanchez and Manchester United together. You will never see a pair more deserving of each other. I wish them more piano playing days together.

It was one bad away result after another. One bad luck game after another.  We stemmed the tide after a while and delivered a set of spectacular home results overall. We just couldn’t crack our away form. I know Arsene alluded to it been a mental issue, however I have a feeling the players felt they were playing against their opponents and the referee in away matches. These same guys did the business in the Milan and Moscow away games in the Europa League. 

I was never bothered about the rubbish ‘Arsenal are yet to win an away point in year 16xx” bandied about in the mainstream media and on social media. For two years running, Arsenal was the best premier league side in two calendar years. Did our detractors and fake pretend fans pay any attention? Why should I pay any to their silly narrative?

The League Cup final was heart wrenching. Another poor referee call cost us the first goal when we were very comfortable and should have been a couple of goals ahead if Aubameyang had been a bit more clinical. If only Lacazette was fit, if only Monreal wasn’t injured early in the match. If only, if only, if only. 

Our second shot at glory during the season was wrecked by bad luck also. The sort of bad luck you probably remember from the 2011 League Cup final. A miskick in defence by an Arsenal defender gifts the opponent an undeserved goal  coupled with a shit goalkeeper in a relegation bound team having a blinder cost us the final.  

Same way we lost the Europa semi final to Atletico. There were 3 or 4 bad luck moments leading up to Griezmann’s goal at the Emirates. We could and should have killed that game at the Emirates with clinical finishing despite Oblak’s great goalkeeping. 

I couldn’t bring myself to watch Atletico lift the trophy in Lyon. That should have been us. That should have been Alexandre Lacazette lifting the trophy in his backyard. That should have been the boys wishing Arsene a wonderful au revoir. But, C’est la vie  

Yes Life. It kicks you in the gonads whether you expect it to or not. It did it again when the worst possible thing that could have happened this season happened when Arsene Wenger decided he had had enough and made up his mind to leave. Forget what idiots, fools and morons say, Wenger called time because of many issues. I can speculate till kingdom come on these issues but I wont. Wenger wanted to go quietly but the Club wanted his departure to be marked with an almighty bang hence the club announcement and the timing of the statement. 

So we have had the marvelous goodbyes to Arsene both from genuine Arsenal fans who turned up en masse to wish the great man farewell and fans of other clubs like Leicester and Huddersfield. We have seen many fond farewells from many big-hearted people like Sir Alex Ferguson and the management of Huddersfield who specially honoured an authentic Football Great.  

My heart will forever ache at Wenger’s departure but I always believed he will call time when he thinks it is appropriate. And he did. So please ignore any small-minded ungrateful lout who thinks Wenger was sacked. 

Arsenal have lost many greats this season. The greatest of them all, Arsene Wenger is gone. Vic Akers too. Boro P – Wenger’s most loyal assistant has left the building. Colin Lewin after serving for 23 years – gone. Santi Cazorla appears to be leaving. Theo Walcott, Olivier Giroud, Francis Coquelin, Kieran Gibbs, Szczesny, Gabriel, Sanogo, Debuchy. All loyal servants, all wonderful individuals. All gone.

An end of many eras. 

I hope we never see a rotten season like this again. I hope we experience many of the Wenger era highs in the future but brace for the ride guys. I think it will be very bumpy. 

Maybe next year will be our season. It is a sad day when you have to adopt the favourite phrase Liverpool fans. 

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