Arsenal - summary of the 2000/2001 season
It's hard to know what to expect from Arsenal this season. Last year the squad was significantly strengthened, but the Gunners ultimately disappointed in the league and in Europe, though there were considerable mitigating circumstances of injury and suspensions. So far this year Wenger has added quality to the squad with the signings of Pires and Lauren, but arguably lost more in the defections of Overmars and Petit to Barcelona. The abortive transfer of Edu and the so far fruitless pursuit of Wiltord indicate that Wenger still feels the squad lacks depth in certain positions.
Nonetheless, some Arsenal fans would argue that Petit and Overmars are no great loss, in that neither really performed last season. The new signings and the possible introduction of one or two of Arsenal's promising youngsters could give fresh impetus to the team and lead the Gunners to surprise a few pundits. In any event, since Wenger took over Arsenal haven't finished outside the top 3 in the league and have been either top or 2nd in the last 3 seasons, so the expectation will be for this to continue. However, the lack of any silverware over the last 2 seasons will lead some to set a trophy winning season as the benchmark for success, even if it is only in the FA Cup.
The one area which has been a disappointment for Wenger's Arsenal is Europe, despite last season's near success in the UEFA Cup. Arsenal's run in that competition will encourage hopes that this season will see further improvement in the Champions League, particularly given the return to the spiritual home of Highbury. Reaching the knockout stages would probably be regarded as a relative success.
Unknown Player to Watch for
Arsenal's current crop of youngsters shows immense promise, and last season's FA Youth Cup winning team included the likes of Graham Barrett, Jermaine Pennant and David Noble who could all get occasional first team chances this year. However, the player most likely to make the breakthrough this season is 19 year-old Ashley Cole, a quick, tough tackling, and skilful leftback who likes to get forward, and made a big impression on loan to Crystal Palace last season. With old favourite Nigel Winterburn leaving, he will be main backup to Silvinho, and given the heavy schedule this season is likely to get more than a few chances while the Brasilian is rested or injured. The current dearth of decent English leftbacks has even led to suggestions that he could be in the England team before too long.
Close Season Transfer Activity
In: Lauren (midfield) from Real Mallorca (SPA) (7.0 million) Robert Pires (midfield) from Marseille (FRA) (6.0 million) Guy Demel (midfield) from Nimes (FRA) (free) Out: Marc Overmars (midfield) to Barcelona (SPA) (20.0 million) Emmanuel (midfield) to Barcelona (SPA) (10.0 million) Jay Bothroyd (forward) to Coventry City (1.0 million) Tommy Black (midfield) to Crystal Palace (0.5 million) Julian Gray (midfield) to Crystal Palace (0.5 million) Nigel Winterburn (defence) to West Ham United (free) Davor Suker (forward) to West Ham United (free)
Squad for 1999-1000 Season
d.o.b. Prem Apps Goals Goalkeepers 24. John Lukic Free 11.12.60 144* 0 13. Alex Manninger 500,000 04.06.77 AUT 13 0 01. David Seaman 1,300,000 19.09.63 232 0 31. Stuart Taylor Trainee 28.11.80 0 0 Defenders 06. Tony Adams Apprentice 10.10.66 196 11 29. Ashley Cole Trainee 20.12.80 0 0 02. Lee Dixon 400,000 17.03.64 235 5 18. Gilles Grimandi 2,000,000 11.11.70 FRA 30 1 05. Martin Keown 2,000,000 24.07.66 212# 3 22. Oleg Luzhny 2,500,000 05.08.68 UKR 0 0 16. Silvinho 4,000,000 12.04.74 BRA 0 0 03. Igors Stepanovs 1,000,000 LAT 20. Matthew Upson 2,000,000 18.04.79 10 0 23. Nelson Vivas 2,000,000 18.10.69 23 0 Midfielders Greg Lincoln Trainee 23.03.80 0 0 08. Fredrik Ljungberg 3,000,000 16.04.77 SWE 16 1 19. Stefan Malz 650,000 15.06.72 GER 0 0 Alberto Mendez 200,000 24.10.74 SPA 3 0 15. Ray Parlour Trainee 07.03.73 199 16 07. Robert Pires 6,000,000 29.01.73 FRA 0 0 30. Paolo Vernazza Trainee 01.11.79 1 0 04. Patrick Vieira 3,500,000 23.06.76 FRA 98 7 Forwards 10. Dennis Bergkamp 7,500,000 18.05.69 NETH 119 51 14. Thierry Henry 9,000,000 17.08.77 FRA 0 0 25. Nwanwko Kanu 3,000,000 01.07.76 NIG 12 6 11. Sylvain Wiltord 13,000,000 10.05.74 FRA 0 0 12. Christopher Wreh 300,000 14.05.75 LIB 28 3 * including 129-0 for Leeds Utd # including 13-0 for Everton
Mid-season Transfer Activity
In: Sylvain Wiltord (forward) from Bordeaux (FRA) (13.0 million) Edu (midfield) from Corinthians (BRA) (6.0 million) Igors Stepanovs (defence) from Skonto Riga (LAT) (1.0 million) Tomas Danilevicius (forward) from Lausanne (SWI) (undisclosed) Out: Paolo Vernazza (midfield) to Watford (0.65 million) Christopher Wreh (forward) to Al Hilal (SAU) (undisclosed) Brian McGovern (defence) to Norwich City (undisclosed) Rhys Weston (defence) to Cardiff City (undisclosed) James Harper (midfield) to Reading (undisclosed)
Complete appearance and goal statistics for the season
Retrospective review of the seasonPrevious season
The 2000/01 season was once again ultimately one of disappointment. Runners-up once more in the league, narrowly beaten in the quarter-finals of the Champions League, and unlucky losers in the FA Cup final represented an improvement on the previous season. However, the lack of silverware and the fact that the Gunners failed to make a serious challenge to Man United in the Premiership meant that the season was widely judged a failure.
In the league, the principal failing was Arsenal's away form. At Highbury, barring a freak result against Middlebrough, the Gunners swept all before them, but on the road they faltered badly, winning just five and losing seven games. As usual the Premiership campaign took on a cyclical nature - after a perplexing first day defeat at Sunderland, an unbeaten run of 15 games, including home wins against Liverpool, Man United and Lazio, took Arsenal to the top of the league and into the 2nd stage of the Champions League.
However, a defeat at home to Ipswich in the 3rd round of the Worthington Cup, albeit with a second string team, presaged another black November. Four defeats in the next 6 games saw Arsenal slip down the league and make a bad start to the 2nd group stages of the Champions League with a heavy defeat in Moscow. December brought marginal improvement, though the dichotomy between home and away form continued, a 4-0 defeat at Liverpool being followed by a 6 goal thrashing of Leicester.
January and February saw further gradual improvement, with the FA cup campaign getting off to a good start with wins at Carlisle and QPR (another 6 goal mauling), and an away win in Lyon rescuing the European season. However, the end of February saw the end of realistic hopes in the league with the disastrous 6-1 defeat at Old Trafford, and though the Gunners qualified for the quarter-finals of the Champions League, they did so despite a dismal final group game defeat in Munich.
In March the cup competitions proved to be the redeeming feature of the season, a quarter-final win over Blackburn in the FA cup setting up the epic semi-final win over old rivals Tottenham at Old Trafford. In the Champions League a thrilling 2nd half comeback at Highbury secured a 2-1 win over Valencia, but the return leg in Spain two weeks later brought heartbreak, a 1-0 defeat meaning Arsenal went out of the Champions League on away goals.
The final few weeks of the season were thus all about the FA cup final, and the trip to Cardiff on May 12 ended in disappointment. Despite completely outplaying Liverpool for much of the match, Arsenal conceded two goals in the final 10 minutes to gift the cup to the season's knockout competition heroes. A draw at Newcastle in the league 3 days later did secure 2nd place in the premiership and an automatic place in the Champions League again for the coming season, but that defeat in the Millenium Stadium was symptomatic of Arsenal's season as a whole. Good for the most part, but ultimately not quite enough.
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