Feature

Winning the big games

Defining Moments - Winning the big games

As another year draws to a close, Arsenal can look back with pride on a year that offers genuine cause for optimism.

There have been plenty of highlights during the last 12 months and here we look at some of the Gunners’ defining moments from 2015.

SUMMARY

Having been questioned about their ability to deliver in the biggest games, Arsenal answered their critics with some memorable performances in 2015.

First up was a trip to Etihad Stadium to face Premier League champions Manchester City, who had won 6-3 in the previous season’s corresponding fixture, but there would be no repeat this time around.

01:43

Manchester City (a) - Bitesize

Arsène Wenger’s fresh gameplan of relinquishing possession and attempting to catch the champions on the break with rapid counter-attacks worked to perfection and Santi Cazorla and Olivier Giroud scored the goals that secured a landmark result.

Wenger credited it as a vital stage in the development of his team, who would later go to Manchester United to win in the FA Cup and draw in the Premier League.

The same could be said for Arsenal’s performances against the bigger sides at home. A 4-1 victory against Liverpool towards the end of last season was followed by a commanding 3-0 win against United, before the Gunners produced one of their finest Champions League displays to beat Bayern Munich.

The German giants had won their last 12 fixtures prior to the trip to north London, scoring 39 goals and conceding just five in the process. Not only that, but they boasted world football’s most electric striker in Robert Lewandowski, who had scored 22 goals in his previous 16 appearances.

Arsenal’s resolve did not waver though, and they were rewarded for their persistence when Olivier Giroud bundled home Cazorla’s free kick, before Mesut Ozil converted Hector Bellerin’s cross late on. 

 

Olivier Giroud scores

 

The Gunners look physically and mentally stronger and, as Wenger said following the last-16 draw, they will be “inspired” by their victory against Bayern when they host Barcelona in February.

WHAT THEY SAID

“We learnt from our mistakes because we played too much of our own game against bigger teams before. We played well against Manchester City because we waited for them and we played well on the counter-attack. Defensively we were really compact as well and we didn’t let them play through the lines.”

Olivier Giroud on Manchester City

02:22

Manchester City (h) - Goals

“This year we’ve started to analyse the teams a little bit more. We’re going there with a plan and as a team we know what we’re doing, which is important. Look at the last few years and we’ve had a few injuries going there and people playing out of positions, but this year we’ve looked a real unit going to tough places and a real team.”

Jack Wilshere on what has changed in the big games

"We defended together and attacked together. You can talk about a lot of things, but you have to come together on the pitch and feel good about the situation. That was the case at Man City and that was different to what we did last season. That was a good turning point mentally to see that we can perform well together as a unit away from home."

Per Mertesacker on Arsenal's balance

HIGHLIGHTS

01:10

Bayern Munich (h) - Goals

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