Season review: Month by month


Season review: Month by month

Arsenal lifted the FA Cup and finished third in the Premier League after a memorable campaign.

Here we take a month-by-month look back at the highs and lows of the 2014/15 season.


The season began in earnest back at Wembley Stadium as newly instated club captain Mikel Arteta lifted the Community Shield after a 3-0 win over champions Manchester City. Wojciech Szczesny was quick to play down the success though. "We wanted to win the game but what's important is that we're ready to start the season - and we're looking strong," he said. "But we're not reading too much into it."

Late goals were the order of the day in the first few Premier League games of 2014/15. Aaron Ramsey struck in the last minute to earn all three points against Crystal Palace on the opening day, then Olivier Giroud salvaged a point at Goodison Park before being taken off with a broken tibia.

The all-important place in the Champions League group stage was secured after a 1-0 aggregate victory over Turkish side Besiktas - despite the Gunners having a man sent off in each leg. Alexis Sanchez scored his second goal in consecutive matches as the Gunners finished the month with a 1-1 draw at Leicester City, ensuring an unbeaten record for August: played six, won three, drawn three.


Calum Chambers


Player of the Month - Calum Chambers


With Giroud's injury confirmed as long term, the club secured the signature of Manchester United forward Danny Welbeck on transfer-deadline day. "It's exciting times for me," the 23-year-old said. "It's great to be a part of this club and it's a team that I've always watched in the Premier League." He made his debut in the 2-2 home draw against Manchester City and scored his first goal in the next league game - a 3-0 win at Aston Villa.

Hector Bellerin made his Champions League debut as Arsenal lost 2-0 at Borussia Dortmund in their group-stage opener. A stunning Alexis free-kick - his fourth goal in five games - proved to be a consolation as Southampton won the Capital One Cup third-round tie at Emirates Stadium the following week.

The month ended with a 1-1 draw in the north London derby against Tottenham after Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain scored a late equaliser. As well as dropping two points, Arsenal sustained injuries to Mikel Arteta, Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere. "It was important not to lose because of the history of this game," Kieran Gibbs said. "They defended very well in the end, I'm not sure how they managed to hold on."


Alexis Sanchez scoring against Manchester City

Alexis Sanchez scoring against Manchester City


Player of the Month - Alexis Sanchez
Goal of the Month - Alexis Sanchez v Manchester City


Welbeck's first senior hat-trick kickstarted Arsenal's Champions League campaign with a 4-1 home win over Galatasaray. The unbeaten start to the league season came to an end at Stamford Bridge however, and there was more bad news in the international break that followed. Mesut Ozil was injured while on duty with Germany, and was ruled out for "at least two months".

Welbeck struck in the final minute to earn a point at home to Hull City and there was more late drama in the Champions League against Anderlecht in Belgium. Kieran Gibbs and Lukas Podolski’s goals in the 89th and 91st minutes turned a 1-0 deficit into an unlikely 2-1 win. "If we lost today it would have been difficult," said Podolski. "It was important that we won and went back to London with the three points. I hope [we can gain momentum]. We had 25 shots on target against Hull City and we drew. Today was not the best game but it’s important that at the end you get the points and we have the points."

Alexis produced another fine performance and scored twice to give Arsenal a 2-0 win at Sunderland at the end of the month, lifting them to fifth place.


Kieran Gibbs celebrates scoring against Anderlecht

Kieran Gibbs celebrates scoring against Anderlecht


Player of the Month - Alexis Sanchez
Goal of the Month - Kieran Gibbs v Anderlecht


Alexis struck a second successive brace in the 3-0 home win over Burnley, with Calum Chambers also scoring his first for the club. “It is a dream,” Chambers said afterwards. “Scoring doesn’t come often as a defender so to finally get my first goal is a good feeling and I was very happy with my celebration!" The game also marked Theo Walcott's return to first-team football after his injury in January.

Arsenal were 3-0 up again in their next home game, against Anderlecht, but conceded three second-half goals to draw 3-3. Swansea then came from behind to win at the Liberty Stadium, before Manchester United ran out 2-1 winners at the Emirates, despite Arsenal’s dominance. Giroud's stunning goal on his return from injury at least gave the fans something to cheer.

Arsenal soon got back to winning ways though, and Yaya Sanogo scored his first goal for the club in a 2-0 defeat of Borussia Dortmund to continue Arsenal's incredible record of qualifying for the Champions League knockout stage. Welbeck’s header was enough to secure a 1-0 win at The Hawthorns later in the month, while Alexis completed a hat-trick of player of the month awards after another series of eye-catching performances.


14/15: Arsenal 2-0 Borussia Dortmund - Alexis Sanchez


Player of the Month - Alexis Sanchez
Goal of the Month - Alexis Sanchez v Borussia Dortmund


Alexis struck late to give Arsenal a 1-0 home win over Southampton - the team's third clean sheet in succession. They came unstuck up at Stoke though, losing 3-2. The flowing football returned away to Galatasaray as Arsenal concluded the Champions League group with a 4-1 win in Turkey, an impressive victory which included a sensational half-volley from Aaron Ramsey. Teenage academy products Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Stefan O'Connor made first-team debuts during the game. After finishing second in Group D Arsenal were drawn against AS Monaco in the last 16.

The FA Cup draw had also thrown up an intriguing tie - a repeat of last season's final against Hull City - while Francis Coquelin was recalled from his loan spell at Charlton to start on the bench as the Gunners racked up their second successive 4-1 win by beating Newcastle United at the Emirates. "I'm very happy," Santi Cazorla, who scored twice, said. "It's the best way to celebrate my 30th birthday. The team played well and the most important thing was to get the three points."

The Gunners conceded a 97th-minute equaliser at Liverpool in their next game to leave Merseyside with a point, before winning 2-1 against QPR and finishing the year with another 2-1 victory at West Ham.


Aaron Ramsey celebrates his Galatasaray goal

Aaron Ramsey celebrates his Galatasaray goal


Player of the Month - Santi Cazorla
Goal of the Month - Aaron Ramsey v Galatasaray


Arsenal suffered a New Year’s Day blow, losing 2-0 at Southampton, but bounced back three days later to beat Hull City 2-0, thanks to goals from Per Mertesacker and Alexis. Arsenal then hosted Stoke at Emirates Stadium but there were no slip-ups this time, Laurent Koscielny finding the net while Alexis claimed another brace in a 3-0 win. Mathieu Debuchy’s shoulder injury was the only downside of a thoroughly convincing display in north London.

Bellerin and Coquelin had established themselves as regular starters by mid-January, but Cazorla was the star performer at Manchester City with a goal and an assist as Arsenal beat Manuel Pellegrini’s side 2-0. “Santi’s a little magician,” said Ramsey. “He had a very good game today and we hope he can continue this form.”

The Gunners ended the month where it had begun, on the south coast, but this time the return journey on the M25 was a lot more pleasant for travelling fans. Walcott smashed home his first goal for more than a year to open the scoring against Brighton, before Tomas Rosicky stole the show to set up Ozil and then emphatically volley home to secure a place in the fifth round of the FA Cup.


Tomas Rosicky

Tomas Rosicky


Player of the Month - Santi Cazorla
Goal of the Month - Tomas Rosicky v Brighton & Hove Albion


With key players returning from injury all over the pitch, Arsenal were flying. February began with an Ozil-inspired 5-0 win against Aston Villa, during which Bellerin scored his first senior goal. A disappointing north London derby defeat followed at White Hart Lane, but the Gunners responded three days later to beat Leicester City 2-1.

FA Cup action returned to Emirates Stadium as the Gunners hosted Middlesbrough in the fifth round of the competition. Giroud continued his goalscoring return from injury to claim his sixth and seventh goals in 10 games, and set up a tasty quarter-final tie at Manchester United.

The France striker scored again in the 2-1 win at Crystal Palace, but Arsenal were soon brought back down to earth in the Champions League. Hosting Monaco in their last-16 first-leg tie, Wenger’s side were 2-0 down before Oxlade-Chamberlain curled home, but Yannick Ferreira-Carrasco struck late on to give the Gunners a mountain to climb at Stade Louis II. “In the second half we exaggerated a bit, looked a bit over-motivated at times and they got us on the break,” Mertesacker said. “It’s easy to write us off in Monaco but we will never give up.”


14/15: Arsenal 1-3 AS Monaco - Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain


Player of the Month - Mesut Ozil
Goal of the Month - Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain v Monaco


Giroud maintained his sparkling form with goals in comprehensive victories over Everton and Queens Park Rangers, but Welbeck was favoured up front in the FA Cup quarter-final on his return to Old Trafford. Nacho Monreal gave Arsenal the lead before Wayne Rooney equalised, but Welbeck pounced on Antonio Valencia’s loose back pass, rounded David de Gea and slotted into the empty net to spark jubilant celebrations among 9,000 travelling fans and secure the Gunners’ return to Wembley. “It was about being professional,” the England forward said. “I just had to keep my focus and motivation.”

Arsenal followed that memorable victory with a rampant 3-0 win against West Ham United as they gained more momentum ahead of their uphill task at Monaco. Giroud gave the Gunners an early lead on the night before Ramsey doubled their advantage, but Monaco’s defence stood firm to knock Arsenal out of the Champions League on away goals.

March ended with a trip to St James’ Park against an under-performing Newcastle United side. Giroud’s quickfire double in the first half was enough to secure three points for Arsenal, despite Moussa Sissoko’s consolation, as the Gunners’ recorded their sixth successive win in the Premier League.


14/15: Arsenal 3-0 West Ham United - Olivier Giroud

Olivier Giroud


Player of the Month - Olivier Giroud
Goal of the Month - Olivier Giroud v West Ham United


Liverpool were Arsenal’s first visitors in April. The Gunners had the chance to end the Reds’ fourth-place challenge and they did so emphatically. Bellerin got the show on the road before Ozil, Alexis and Giroud added the finishing touches to cap another impressive showing against one of the Premier League’s biggest teams. A tough trip to Burnley followed and Ramsey’s 12th-minute strike was enough to secure an eighth consecutive win in all competitions and keep the pressure on league leaders Chelsea.

Back in FA Cup action, Arsenal faced Reading in the semi-final and Steve Clarke’s side proved difficult to break down at Wembley. Alexis gave Arsenal a first-half lead but Garath McCleary equalised shortly after the break. It took until the second half of extra-time for Reading’s defence to tire and Alexis took advantage once more, firing a low shot beneath Adam Federici, who could not prevent it from trickling over the line. “Alexis has that individual potential that allows him to always create something special,” Wenger said. “He gave that again today.”

Chelsea were the final test in April but Jose Mourinho’s side frustrated Arsenal’s attack and secured the point which all but guaranteed that the Premier League trophy would return to west London.


Alexis Sanchez scores against Liverpool

Alexis Sanchez scores against Liverpool


Player of the Month - Mesut Ozil
Goal of the Month - Alexis Sanchez v Liverpool


Arsenal went into May on the back of a 10-match unbeaten streak, but their best performance was yet to come. Facing Hull City at KC Stadium, the Gunners stormed into a three-goal lead at half-time after a rampant first-half showing. Stephen Quinn pulled one back after the break but Alexis’ brace and Ramsey’s looping strike had already secured another three points on the road.

"We are now a much more mature team, who knows its way and plays as well fantastic football"

Arsene Wenger

Swansea temporarily stalled the Gunners’ progress when David Ospina could not keep out Bafetimbi Gomis’ header, but Wenger’s side responded strongly to pick up a point at Old Trafford and go a season unbeaten in Manchester for the first time in a decade. A goalless draw against Sunderland followed as the Black Cats achieved safety, but Arsenal returned to their free-flowing best against West Bromwich Albion, Walcott scoring a hat-trick and Wilshere smashing in his first goal since September to end the Premier League season on a high.

Then came the FA Cup final. Arsenal had been punished by Hull for their slow start in last season’s showpiece, but Walcott calmed everyone’s nerves with a goal before the break this time around. Alexis and Mertesacker added to the Gunners’ lead after half-time before Giroud struck in the 90th minute to cap off a commanding performance as Arsenal won a record 12th FA Cup.

Wenger reached a milestone by becoming only the second manager to lift six FA Cups. “I am very happy, very proud and absolutely thrilled because we won the FA Cup but the performance was there as well,” the manager said. “It shows as well that this team has moved forward since the beginning of last season. We are now a much more mature team, who knows its way and plays as well fantastic football.”


Arsenal celebrate winning the 2015 FA Cup

Arsenal celebrate winning the 2015 FA Cup


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