By Rob Kelly

It has been a year of ups and downs for Arsenal, and with 2012 drawing to a close it's time to look back at how it all unfolded.

Today we conclude this feature by focusing on August to December.

Arsène Wenger

Arsenal’s inconsistent form continued with a home defeat to Swansea, while an under-strength side lost three days later at Olympiacos. After returning to form with a comfortable victory over West Brom, disaster struck as the side were knocked out of the Capital One Cup on penalties by League Two side Bradford City. But the Gunners ended 2012 in style with three more Premier League victories - a 5-2 thrashing of Reading, a hard-fought 1-0 win at Wigan and, best of all, a stunning 7-3 win over Newcastle United. Theo Walcott's hat-trick was the highlight of that 10-goal thriller as the home fans were sent home happy at the end of an eventful year.

12/13: Arsenal 5-2 Tottenham Hotspur - Olivier Giroud

Traditionally a difficult month, Wenger’s side got off to a disappointing start as they were well beaten by Manchester United at Old Trafford. Then Arsenal let slip a two-goal lead in Schalke and drew with Fulham. However, a thrilling 5-2 derby win against Tottenham restored confidence and they secured qualification for the last 16 of the Champions League with a 2-0 defeat of Montpellier. Successive draws against Aston Villa and Everton saw Arsenal slip down the table. Off the field, the Club signed a £150 million sponsorship deal with Emirates that extends the airline’s shirt deal by five years and their stadium naming rights until 2028.

12/13: Reading 5-7 Arsenal - Theo Walcott

A mixed month started well as successive wins against Olympiacos and West Ham maintained the feelgood factor around the Club. However, a poorly-timed international break seemed to stall progress and Wenger’s side slid to surprise defeats to Norwich and Schalke. A narrow 1-0 win against QPR helped restore some confidence, before a young side fought back from 4-0 down to beat Reading 7-5 in an unforgettable Capital One Cup fourth-round tie. Elsewhere, Arsenal Ladies wrapped up a domestic double by beating Birmingham 1-0 in the Continental Cup final.

Laurent Koscielny

Optimism was rife after goals from Cazorla and Podolski helped Arsenal seal a 2-0 victory at Liverpool, quickly followed by a 6-1 defeat of newly-promoted Southampton. Wenger’s side made a superb start to their Champions League campaign too, as they secured a 2-1 win at Montpellier, while Laurent Koscielny’s late equaliser rescued a point at Manchester City. The Gunners sailed into the Capital One Cup fourth round by beating Coventry at the Emirates, although the month ended badly with a home defeat to high-flying Chelsea.

EA Sports Player of the Month - Santi Cazorla

Wenger further strengthened his squad with the addition of Malaga midfielder Santi Cazorla. “He is a great signing for us,” the manager said. “He is a player with good experience, who will add significant quality to our squad. He will be a huge asset”. However, the excitement at this news was tempered by the departure of Robin van Persie to Manchester United. After an encouraging 4-0 defeat of Cologne in the final pre-season match, the Gunners opened their campaign with goalless draws against Sunderland and Stoke.

Beijing banner

Following a relatively successful Euro 2012 for Arsenal’s players, the squad returned for pre-season training and were joined by new boys Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud. The Club then embarked on another hugely-successful tour of the Far East, where the Gunners took part in matches, training sessions and tour events in Malaysia, China and Hong Kong. A separate dispatch of players visited Nigeria as the squad geared up for the new season.

Pat Rice

The Gunners’ stuttering form continued as they had to settle for a point against Norwich after Steve Morison’s 85th-minute strike secured a 3-3 draw for the visitors. Wenger’s side travelled to The Hawthorns on the final day of the season knowing a victory would secure third place - and after a excruciatingly tense match, they did it… just. The on-pitch celebrations proved to be a fitting farewell to assistant manager Pat Rice, who retired after 44 years at the Club. Steve Bould replaced him at Wenger’s No 2.

Mikel Arteta

With the fight for a top-four place growing increasingly tense, Arsenal took a major step in the right direction by beating champions-elect Manchester City through a late Arteta goal. A comfortable victory at Wolves seemed to put the Gunners well on course, but a home defeat to Wigan, followed by successive draws against Chelsea and Stoke, left things in the balance.

Thomas Vermaelen scores against Newcastle United

The feelgood factor really returned as a late win at Liverpool was followed up by a 3-0 defeat of Milan. It wasn’t enough to take Arsenal through to the Champions League quarter-finals, but it restored pride and helped build momentum. Vermaelen’s last-gasp strike against Newcastle brought another precious three points, before victories against Everton and Aston Villa extended the winning run to six games. However, a shock defeat at struggling QPR halted progress on the final day of the month.

11/12: Arsenal 5-2 Tottenham Hotspur - Tomas Rosicky

After a goalless draw at Bolton, Arsenal suddenly hit form in the most emphatic of fashions by thrashing Blackburn 7-1 and winning away at Sunderland. But any sense of renewed optimism was punctured by a heavy Champions League defeat at AC Milan and an FA Cup exit at the hands of Sunderland. But a stunning 5-2 north London derby victory over Tottenham helped lift spirits, and ultimately proved to be a pivotal moment in the race for the top four.

11/12: Arsenal 1-0 Leeds Utd - Thierry Henry

The New Year started in difficult fashion, as a late Bobby Zamora goal consigned Arsenal to defeat at Fulham. However, spirits were temporarily lifted by the return of Thierry Henry and his goal in a fairytale comeback against Leeds in the FA Cup. But defeats to Swansea and Manchester United meant the gloom soon returned, before a dramatic 3-2 victory over Aston Villa saw the Gunners end the month on a high by progressing to the FA Cup fifth round.

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31 Dec 2012