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Arsenal 2007-08 Anyone want to buy our players? One stark thing that strikes you about 2007-08 is the ability that Arsene Wenger had at getting the best out of players, and keeping us competitive while losing our finest players. Paying for the Emirates and competing against the huge money available at Chelsea, Man Utd and City put him at a big disadvantage. They could buy, we were selling. This year we lost the little known players Thierry Henry, Freddie Ljungberg, and Jose Antonio Reyes. Also among the biggest earners so saving on salary as well. Still we looked like we could win the league for a good while and had a pretty good run in the Champions league. Lassana Diarra - Arsene always knows We sold those three for 25 million (the world was different then ) and our most significant purchases were Eduardo and Bacary Sagna for 13,5 million. Wenger totally justified his reputation as a canny operator by buying Lassana Diarra from Chelsea for 4m in August 2007 and selling him for 5.5m to Portsmouth in January 2008 after only 13 games, some as sub. Including that in the calculations means that we spent 16m and got in 33.5m. No wonder the owners and the banks loved Arsene. But did the fans? Did we really care about our finances? Fans didn’t care about money I suspect most didn’t really. Our squad was now visibly weaker than the Invincibles of a short few years before. Only Gilberto and Toure were left as regular players. Almunia replacing Lehmann was probably the biggest drop in class but Bergkamp, Henry, Pires and Ljungberg were replaced by Adebayor, Eduardo, Van Persie, Bendtner and Walcott. Still good players but the most striking of them was Eduardo. We loved him and he would surely have gone on to have a great partnership with Adebayor but he was cut down with a broken leg in February against Birmingham and never got his game back on track. Sometimes bones just don’t heal right or the psychological strain stops you from performing at your best. Eduardo - a true tragedy Most fans agree that Eduardo was the player from that era that we most wanted to succeed. He had the ability to become a world great. Injuries were to plague Rosicky, Diaby, Van Persie and Walcott as well from that time. Those five, if operating at full throttle, would surely have got us the league that season and kept us at the top for seasons after that. We were going backwards And so we were behind I feel in the quality of players we had as compared to our peers and still got 83 points and 3rd behind Man Utd 87 points and Chelsea 84. When you consider that Henry, Ljungberg and Reyes never quite captured the heights after they were let go, it seems like Wenger, as usual, knew. Good luck with injuries could still have seen us capturing big trophies in the post Highbury era. Yes, even though an emerging City decided that the best way to challenge was to grab our best players. The mighty Barcelona also liked the look of our players. We were now a selling club like Brighton at the moment and Southampton not long ago. The third best team ever in England with one of the biggest stadiums and fan base were grooming players for what? Lesser upstarts like City. It was a hard time to be an Arsenal fan. Bacary Sagna - Arsene's best buy that season We were looking on with despair. We knew that teams don’t win by selling. But despite all that, it was testament to Wenger that he kept getting us so close. Probably close to a miracle. What then transpired on the pitch? A lowlight was the old chant of one nil to the Arsenal nearly disappeared with only 5 across all competitions and 58 matches. But we did have some nice wins coupled with some bad defeats, the most painful of all for me was being beaten by Liverpool in the quarterfinal of the Champions league. We played better than them for most of the 2 matches, got caught out by dodgy refereeing and got beaten 5-3 on aggregate. And the wait went on for my dream. The Spuds teach us a lesson Another bad defeat was Man Utd in the FA cup on the 16th February of 4-0. But the kicker of all was the Spuds in the League cup semi-final. An annoying Bulgarian and an even more annoying Irishman (I will let you supply the names of this partnership)kicked us in the arse. 5-1 to the Spuds and we ended up fighting amongst ourselves with William Gallas throwing a strop with Niklas Bendtner. The indignity of it all. Yes, Wenger played some kids but we were hopeless that day. I am sure you all watched on in disbelief. I am sure you have all blanked this horror from your mind We had good wins in the league against Everton 4-1 and Derby twice 5-0 and 6-2. We could still play a bit. A lot of draws though at 15 in all competitions and nine 1-1’s meaning we could have had a new chant – 1-1 to the Arsenal. This pair should have shown the fight against the Spuds, not themselves We did have a super 7-0 against Slavia Prague in the Champions league qualifying and we didn’t have a bad campaign although we came second to Sevilla in the group stage. We beat the champions A.C Milan in the last 16 in an unlikely fashion as I am sure you all remember. 0-0 at home meant we had to go away to the San Siro and beat them, something no English team had ever done. But we are the Arsenal, we destroyed them 2-0 in one of our best displays of the season. But then of course, that hard to take defeat against the Scousers of Liverpool. I could have smashed Steven Gerrard’s face in that night I was so disappointed. Long undefeated run We had a 28 match undefeated spell and we were top of the league for a long period but Eduardo’s injury coincided with us falling down the table. Wenger was somehow keeping the hope alive of the big trophies but there was a big but in all our minds, I reckon. We destroyed Derby twice But perhaps coincidentally, it was also the year that the Kroenke’s first appeared. They are different types of owners to most. They like to stay in the background and they have a great belief in hiring experts across many different areas. I believe they saw what Wenger could do that season and wanted to keep him or hire another such manager who could get the best out of his players. Unai Emery had such a reputation but it didn’t quite happen for him. Arteta has inherited that from Wenger, you must always get the best out of your players and I think the Kroenke’s saw that about him in the interviews. Overall, though, the feeling was worrying. We were selling our best. We had potentially great players injured. All around us new teams were appearing and the established ones were strengthening. Wenger would have needed to be a true magician to win the league or Champions league with our teams. We still had hope but not much else. 2007-08 was, I feel, the watershed moment when we truly became second best.