Top 5 Moments of 2011

At first glance this year has been a huge disappointment for Arsenal from the Carling Cup final to the loss of key players in the transfer window. However looking more carefully at this past year there are some huge positives that should be taken. Despite faltering form and long spells without wins there have been some performances that will stay in the memory for a long time:

Here are the top five moments of 2011

5. Development of players.

One of the aspects of this year that has impressed me most is the development off some of our youngsters. Jack Wilshere has become one of the best players in the league at just 19 years of age. At the start of the year his performances picked up and he started to really boss the midfield. His progress was signified by him winning the PFA young player of the year. It has been evident in many of our poor displays this season that we have been missing his control of the midfield and we are all desperate for his return. Another player who has progressed significantly this year is Aaron Ramsey. At the start of the year I found him frustrating to as the least. He seemed in control all over the pitch however when he reached the final third he would appear reluctant to play that final ball. Too often he would shirk away from the opportunities to play that killer ball and would end up pausing for too long and passing it backwards. You just need to look at the passes for Gervinho’s goal against Stoke and the ball to Gervinho for RVP’s first goal against Chelsea to see that he is becoming far more comfortable in that area of the pitch.

Another significant development has been that of Laurent Koscielny. Last year I found him too aggressive in his play as he would often go in for a sliding tackle or commit himself when it wasn’t needed. However this year he has come forward significantly and his performance against Barcelona was among the greatest this year. His reading of the game has been exceptional and his continued presence at the back has been reassuring when all those around him are falling down.

4. Arsenal 1-0 Manchester United

Towards the end of last season when everything was looking down there was one performance that kept our slender hopes of the title alive. They had not been beaten by the Gunners in a span of seven games, spread over two-and-a-half years in all competitions by t this time we came out on top. Despite the presence of Squillaci in the second half United couldn’t match Arsenal and Aaron Ramsey’s composed finish gave us a deserved 1-0 win over our rivals.

3. The performances of Robin Van Persie
There has been one man that has been sublime this year and his appetite for goals has dragged us through some of the most difficult times and saved us more times than I can remember. As soon as the year started RVP didn’t look back and now with one game of the year left he has scored 34 goals surpassing Henry’s record at Arsenal and only two off the record of Alan Shearer. He has had superb performances for example Barcelona, Chelsea (more on them later), Stoke, Everton, Sunderland where his sublime goals have saved us from near defeat or draws. This season his attitude as captain has also been influential towards the progress of the team and he has showed a real maturity there.

2. Chelsea 3 - 5 Arsenal

Arsenal’s highlight of the season so far has to be this eight goal thriller at Stamford Bridge. Two sides under pressure after their slow starts to the season entertained us with an eight goal thriller. Despite an unconvincing defensive display (apart from Koscielny, of course) with Djourou and Mertesacker stuck to the floor most of the match it was the attack who pulled us through. Van Persie of course was the star of the show and the team are indebted to his hat – trick(and John Terry) for the win. Another pleasing aspect of the performance was that of Andre Santos who had an unconvincing first half in defence often being beaten after recklessly lunging in. However as soon as the second half had started is performance changed and it was his cool finish that let us back into the game as he, once again, demonstrated his superb ability to get forward.

1. Arsenal 2 - 1 Barcelona

Arsenal struck twice in five minutes late to comeback from 1-0 down to beat Champions League favourites Barcelona on a memorable night at the Emirates. Barcelona looked on course to take a precious lead into the second leg of this last 16 clash at the Nou Camp as they protected the first-half advantage given to them by David Villa. However two quick goals from Van Persie and Arshavin set up a magnificent win that will be remembered forever. There were some superb performances in the second half most notably from Jack Wilshere and Koscielny that set up a magnificent win. It was a shame that the same feat couldn’t be completed in the second leg and we came so close but for Bendtner’s inability to have a first touch when through on goal.

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