This was the year Arsenal finally got their hands on more silverware.
In our review of 2014 we reflect on how the historic year unfolded, culminating with August to December…
Yaya Sanogo scored four goals in a 5-1 victory over Benfica on the first day of the Emirates Cup, but Valencia lifted the trophy after Monaco beat Arsenal 1-0 on the Sunday. The season then began in earnest back at Wembley Stadium - 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's injury-time equaliser salvaged a point at Goodison Park. The Frenchman was later taken off with a broken tibia though. The all-important place in the Champions League proper 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.
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. I've envisaged myself playing in this team before. For it to finally happen is very exciting." 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.
The Champions League draw grouped Arsenal with Borussia Dortmund, Anderlecht and Galatasaray, and the German side won the group opener 2-0 in Dortmund. A stunning Alexis Sanchez 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 1-1 draw in the north London derby against Tottenham. As well as dropping two points, Arsenal also sustained injuries to Mikel Arteta, Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere in a match they dominated. "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 but they did and we gave everything so we have to take the positives from the game and move on."
Welbeck's first-ever 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. 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 Lukas Podolski after his winning goal. "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." An Alexis brace gave Arsenal a 2-0 win at Sunderland at the end of the month, lifting them to fifth place.
Alexis bagged 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. I was trying to push forward a lot more and I want to try and add that to my game at full back." 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 - meaning qualification to the Champions League knockout stage would have to wait. That squandered lead triggered a mini slump as Swansea came from behind to inflict a defeat at the Liberty Stadium, then Manchester United ran out 2-1 winners at the Emirates, despite being second best for most of the game. 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 with a 2-0 defeat of Borussia Dortmund. Yaya Sanogo scored his first goal for the club to continue Arsenal's incredible record of qualifying for the Champions League knockout stage.
A Danny Welbeck header was enough to secure a 1-0 win at The Hawthorns later in the month, while Alexis Sanchez completed a hat-trick of player of the month awards after another series of eye-catching performances.
A late Alexis Sanchez strike gave Arsenal a 1-0 home win over Southampton - the team's third clean in succession. They came unstuck up at Stoke though. Having trailed 3-0 they mounted a fightback, but ultimately went down 3-2. The flowing football returned away to Galatasaray as Arsenal concluded the Champions League group with a 4-1 win in Turkey. Teenage academy products Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Stefan O'Connor both 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 earlier in the week had also thrown up an intriguing looking tie - a repeat of last season's final against Hull City - while the Gunners racked up their second successive 4-1 win as they beat 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 team had good experience and we had the right spirit. We need to play every game like we did here."
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.
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