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.
Arsenal capped off a fine 2014/15 campaign by lifting a record 12th FA Cup with a comfortable 4-0 win against Aston Villa on a memorable day at Wembley.
The manner of the Gunners’ victory proved how far they had come in 12 months, having battled back from two goals down to beat Hull City the year before.
"This has got to be a stepping stone now even more to challenge for the title. That’s the ultimate goal, what everyone and all the kids dream of"
The Tigers were given the chance to get their revenge in the third round this time around but Arsenal made no mistake, with Per Mertesacker and Alexis securing a comprehensive victory against Steve Bruce’s men.
An away trip to Brighton & Hove Albion followed. Theo Walcott gave Arsenal the lead after just 90 seconds and then Rosicky stole the show. The forward found Mesut Ozil with an inch-perfect reverse ball before winning possession, playing a no-look pass to Olivier Giroud and expertly volleying into the bottom corner.
Back to the Emirates and Arsenal faced a high-flying Middlesbrough side, but the Gunners’ quality soon prevailed. Giroud finished a 16-pass move at the near post before volleying Alexis’ corner past Tomas Mejias to set up a quarter-final tie against Manchester United at Old Trafford.
Nacho Monreal gave Arsenal the lead before Wayne Rooney equalised, but Danny Welbeck soon left his mark on his return to his boyhood club in front of 9,000 travelling fans, pouncing on Antonio Valencia’s loose backpass to round David de Gea and seal Arsenal’s semi-final spot.
An extra-time victory against Reading saw the Gunners reach a second straight final, and they more than made up for the previous year’s slow start with a four-goal rout against Aston Villa, becoming only the sixth side to retain the FA Cup since the Second World War.
Should they defend the trophy this season, which begins with a home tie against Sunderland on January 9, it will be Arsene Wenger’s seventh FA Cup, moving him one clear of former Aston Villa manager George Ramsay to become the most successful manager in the competition’s 144-year history.
WHAT THEY SAID
“I’m very proud of winning the FA Cup for the sixth time because if it has not been done, it shows that it is not easy. All of us want to achieve things that are difficult. It’s great for the club as well because we’ve won it 12 times, more than any other club. Personally, I’ve played in seven finals and won six, so I am very proud of that.”
“It’s amazing. It can only get better. With respect, everything we do right, we can still improve. We have all the elements to become better and better, and finally this club is getting to where it deserves to be. Now we have to be higher than that.”
“This has got to be a stepping stone now even more to challenge for the title. That’s the ultimate goal, what everyone and all the kids dream of. We need to do it for the fans because they’ve been waiting for a long time. They enjoy these moments like every player does now.”
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