The first Internet meme making the rounds early in the new year is the 10-year challenge. I know we’re all getting tired of seeing recent photos of social media “friends” next to pictures of themselves from 2009. However, with that in mind, I thought it would be fun to do an Arsenal version of the 10-year challenge.
Back in the 2008-2009 season, Arsene Wenger was in his 13th year as manager of the Gunners. He was able to maintain his impressive record of not finishing outside of the top four as Arsenal boss.
Ten years ago it had been five years since Arsenal had last won the EPL title (2003-2004). Even then the fans were starting to become disgruntled. That helps explain the level of angst and vitriol emanating from Arsenal supporters over the last ten years.
The 2008-2009 Arsenal front line was led by Robin van Persie and Emmanuel Adebayor. It also included Lord Nicklas Bendtner, a young Theo Walcott, Brazilian Eduardo and Mexican Carlos Vela.
The starting goalie was Manuel Almunia, which may explain why Arsenal were not at their best back then. Lukasz Fabianski was the backup. Despite being branded with the unflattering nickname, Flapianski, it’s the Pole who is still a Premier League starter (West Ham) while the Spaniard retired in 2014.
The backline was solid with Kolo Toure, William Gallas, Gael Clichy and Emmaneul Eboue. The rest of the defensive unit included Johan Djourou, Kieran Gibbs and former Manchester United player Mikael Silvestre
At the center of Arsenal’s midfield was Abou Diaby (yes, he actually played in 36 games in 2008-2009 before disappearing forever to the injury list), Samir Nasri, Cesc Fabregas, Denilson (believe it or not he made 51 appearances this season), Alex Song and a young Aaron Ramsey. Bit midfield players included Jack Wilshere and Andrey Arshavin who was signed in the January 2009 transfer window.
The 2008-2009 Gunners finished fourth behind Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea. By finishing in fourth, Wenger led his team to participation in the Champions League tournament for the ninth straight year.
Arsenal made it to the quarterfinals of the 2008-2009 League cup where they lost to Burnley 2-0. They also came up short in the FA Cup semifinals, 1-2 to Chelsea and made it to the Champions League semifinals where they were defeated by their nemesis club Manchester United 4-1 on aggregate.
Some fans have taken to social media to apply the 10-year challenge to Arsenal. Here are some examples:
2009: Arsenal concede a goal to Chelsea in the 39th minute at the Emirates with the scorer being a Frenchman (Anelka)— ☕ (@sanoakhtar) January 19, 2019
2019: Arsenal score a goal against Chelsea at the Emirates in the 39th minute with the scorer being a Frenchman (Koscielny)#10yearchallenge
Unai Emery is in his first season as Arsenal manager. He needs time to build his team and start challenging for the league title. Hopefully the next 10-year challenge will be filled with a look back at success for Emery’s side.