In a season which saw Arsene Wenger come under the most scrutiny he has ever faced since being at the club, the Gunners did eventually put their poor domestic form to one side, and claimed a record breaking 13th FA Cup.
The Gunners saw off Chelsea in a 2-1 victory at Wembley last weekend, which was the 7th time in Wenger’s reign that he has won the trophy – making him the most successful manager in the competition.
Despite missing out on the Champions League, there were a few moments to savour this season for Arsenal fans, and we take a look at the top five games of the 2016/17 campaign…
5. Watford 1-3 Arsenal – Premier League, August 2016
After suffering an opening day defeat to Liverpool at the Emirates, and stumbling to a 0-0 draw away at Leicester the following weekend, it was pivotal Arsenal got their season up and running at Vicarage Road.
And the Gunners most certainly did that. A stunning first half display which saw Wenger’s side runaway in to a 3-0 lead, through a Santi Cazorla penalty and others from Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil.
Arsenal were unplayable in the August sunshine, and fans saw a first glimpse of the quality of summer signings, Granit Xhaka and Rob Holding, as both put in stellar performances. The victory at Watford was the start of a six game winning streak in the league for the Gunners, as they hit top form.
4. Arsenal 2-1 Manchester City (AET) – FA Cup, April 2017
This was most certainly a pivotal moment in not just last season, but also heading in to forthcoming one. Arsene Wenger’s side headed to Wembley the underdogs, as their league form was dismal and the side was in a so called ‘crisis’.
Though, this was the second game where the new 3-4-2-1 formation was adapted following a trial in a 2-1 win away at Middlesbrough the previous week. Arsenal were exceptional in the Wembley sunshine. Passion, fight and hunger was all in an abundance, after the North London side fell behind to an early second half strike from Sergio Aguero.
An immediate response from the most unlikely of sources of Nacho Monreal had the Gunners back level, before who else but Alexis Sanchez popped up with the winner in extra time, to send Arsenal to their third FA Cup final in the last four seasons.
3. Stoke City 1-4 Arsenal – Premier League, May 2017
By this time of the season, the confidence was streaming out this new look Arsenal side, as they headed up to the Bet 365 Stadium, a ground they have failed to win at in the last seven years.
People may argue that Stoke were already on their holidays, but Arsenal were on another level on a sunny, spring tea time up in Staffordshire. Olivier Giroud opened the scoring right on the stroke of half time, as the Gunners dominated first half proceedings, before Mesut Ozil added a second swiftly at the start of the second.
Though, not even Peter Crouch’s controversial goal couldn’t upset the Gunners flow, as he appeared to handle the ball in to the back of the net, to get Stoke back in the game. Yet another Alexis Sanchez goal restored Arsenal’s two goal lead, before Giroud grabbed Arsenal’s fourth and his second of the game, as those Stoke hoodoos were well and truly banished.
2. Arsenal 3-0 Chelsea – Premier League, September 2016
The game where the whole country thought Arsenal could finally mount a serious title challenge. Chelsea left the Emirates this Saturday evening on the end of a real hiding, and this was of course the day where Chelsea’s season completely changed for the better.
Arsenal were rampant in an opening 45 minutes blitz. Alexis Sanchez pounced on a horror show at the back from Gary Cahill, to coolly chip the ball over the oncoming Thibaut Courtious, as this was just the start for the Gunners in the opening exchanges.
A wonderful, one-touch move led to Theo Walcott tapping in Arsenal’s second, as Chelsea could not live with the pace and flair that the home side were possessing. Shortly after, yet another stunning move led to the Gunners third as Mesut Ozil hammered in from Sanchez’s cross to leave Chelsea rocking.
A game where all Arsenal fans look back at the end of the season and have that ‘what if’ feeling…
1. Arsenal 2-1 Chelsea – FA Cup Final, May 2017
By far the standout moment of Arsenal’s up and down 2016/17 campaign. A game where each and every football fan gave the Gunners absolutely no hope. Wenger’s side headed to Wembley with a defensive crisis as Laurent Koscielny, Gabriel and Shkodran Mustafi were all ruled out of the showpiece final.
Per Mertesacker, who had not started a single game all season, playing just short of 30 minutes of football all season, incredibly led the Arsenal defence. And what a game he had. The Gunners were electric from the first whistle, racing in to a controversial early lead through that man again, Alexis Sanchez. Chelsea protested that the Chilean handled the ball in the build up to the goal, before claiming that Aaron Ramsey was in an offside position, interfering with play. Goal given.
Arsenal really could have been three or four up at half-time, and following a second yellow card to Victor Moses for diving, Chelsea were down to 10 men early on in the second half. Though, Arsenal don’t do finals the easy way, as Diego Costa equalised with around fifteen minutes remaining.
But within a few seconds of the game restarting following Costa’s equaliser, the Gunners were back in front. A wonderful cross from Olivier Giroud, was met by the head of the incoming Aaron Ramsey, as he secured another FA Cup Final winning goal. And just right there, all the pain and struggles of the whole season were forgotten, but isn’t that just football…