After nine months, 53 games, 29 wins, 105 goals and one, priceless, top-four finish, another dramatic season is over.
There have been some thrilling highs and trying lows for Arsène Wenger’s side and in this three-part feature we're looking back at how the 2012/13 campaign unfolded.
The summer months proved distracting for the Gunners, with speculation raging over the futures of Robin van Persie and Alex Song. Both players would eventually depart, to Manchester United and Barcelona respectively, while Wenger bolstered his squad with the exciting additions of Lukas Podolski, Olivier Giroud and Santi Cazorla. The trio sparkled in the final pre-season game of the summer as Arsenal beat Cologne 4-0, with Podolski scoring twice against his former club. While the attack may have shone in Germany, it was the defence that grabbed the headlines in the opening two games of the Premier League season as they shut out Sunderland and Stoke City - but the Gunners were held to two frustrating goalless draws. “It is never disastrous to take a point at Stoke but we lack a little bit of oil in our engine in the final third," Wenger said afterwards. "What looks completely natural when we are at our best still is not there, and we have to work on that.”
Arsenal’s new boys clicked in thrilling fashion at the start of September as the Gunners claimed their first win of the season by beating Liverpool 2-0 at Anfield, with Podolski opening the scoring and Cazorla firing in the second. “I thought we played very well against Stoke and Sunderland, but we didn't score a goal,” Podolski said afterwards. “Today we scored goals, and had more chances. I think there are more points coming.” Even the press were taken by the new-look Arsenal, with the Daily Mirror saying: “No Van Persie. No Song. No hope or ambition? No problem. Not for Arsène Wenger and his new-look Gunners at Anfield. Not when Santi Cazorla and Lukas Podolski already look so at home. Not when Abou Diaby can dominate with such ease.”
With optimism rife, a 6-1 victory against Southampton and a Champions League win at Montpellier followed, while a 1-1 draw at champions Manchester City boosted confidence further. Giroud broke his duck for the Club with a goal in the 6-1 Capital One Cup defeat of Coventry City, but the month ended in disappointment as Chelsea won 2-1 at Emirates Stadium.
The sense of momentum may have been disrupted by defeat to the Blues, but Wenger’s side soon returned to winning ways against Olympiacos and West Ham - in which Giroud scored his long-awaited first Premier League goal - but were then beaten by Norwich. A disappointing home defeat to Schalke in the Champions League underlined the fragile nature of the Gunners’ form, and when they found themselves 4-0 down to Reading after just 37 minutes six days later (following a tense 1-0 win against QPR at the Emirates) they seemed on the brink of disaster. But the most unlikely of comebacks soon unfolded. Theo Walcott’s goal gave the Gunners a glimmer of hope, before Giroud added a second and Laurent Koscielny and Walcott scored twice in the dying minutes to take the game to extra time. Marouane Chamakh’s brace and Walcott's hat-trick goal secured a famous victory. “We went from disaster to pride - because we at least came back in the second half with a decent performance,” a relieved Wenger said. “We had just hope but it didn’t look like we would go through.”