So, here's my first full-length season update. The 2017/18 season was one in which a lot was expected, and a lot was delivered. Following the stunning success of the previous few seasons - two back-to-back Champions League wins as well as four straight Premier Leagues and others - my main objectives going in to this season were to remain the dominant domestic domestic force, become the first club from one of Europe's top six leagues to go two full league seasons unbeaten and also to become the first club in history to win three consecutive Champions League titles.
Going in to the season, I made some big decisions. Out went two big names in Robert Lewandowski and Aaron Ramsey, who joined Chelsea and PSG respectively for £30M each. Despite their worldwide reputations, high value and high wages, I couldn't get either to perform consistently for me in my first couple of years in charge of Arsenal. As Lewandowski's replacement, Simone Zaza was drafted in from Sampdoria for a cool £5M, and Gedion Zelalem was finally promoted to the first team to battle it out with Khedira, Arteta, Romero and Wilshere for a spot in the heart of midfield. Rafinha - a free signing from Barcelona in the summer of 2016 - returned from his successful loan spell at Inter Milan to give us more depth in the attacking midfield spot. In the end, I was left with this squad.
Community Shield - Club World Cup - UEFA Super Cup - Capital One Cup - Champions League - Premier League - FA Cup
As you can see, the season was a success. We won every competition we were entered in to, and quite convincingly to say the last, with my side, yet again, finishing a Premier League season without losing, and my points tally coming just 1 point short of the record set by myself in 2015. In the Champions League, two heroic home ties - which I described in a post further up in the thread - overturned first leg deficits to see us through to the next round. The 4-0 at home to Juventus to come back from the 3-0 loss away had me on the edge of my seat throughout. Utterly jaw-dropping stuff. The final - against Chelsea -was as boring as they come until, for the second season running, Captain Per Mertesacker bagged a late, late winner to bring the most coveted prize in club football home! Big F------ German.
Barring the 3rd round ET win over Chelsea, our route to winning the Capital One Cup was fairly easy, and I was able to rotate my squad in these games and give some of my youngsters some game time, and - except for the 1-1 draw away at Stoke and the hard fought 1-0 at City - the same can be said for my FA Cup run in.
Congratulations to Aleksandar Mitrovic and Serge Gnabry, who won the FWA Footballer of the Year and PFA Young Footballer of the Year respectively. Mitrovic had a tremendous season, bagging himself 31 goals and 15 assists in 44 starts!
Manager's Player of the Year: Matija Nastasić
Simply brilliant throughout the course of the season. Ridiculously consistent, fairly good disciplinary record and a solid goal threat from set pieces - signed for a structured deal worth £25M in January 2016, and since then he has been my best centre half, which really is saying something. He is a real leader and will be appointed the deputy vice-captain behind Mertesacker and Wilshere as Arteta is retiring this summer.
Manager's Young Player of the Year: Serge Gnabry
A make-or-break season for the German youngster proved to be successful. With Chamberlain out of form and Walcott having injury problems, Serge had to step up to the plate and deliver - and that's exactly what he did. 12 goals and 10 assists in all competitions is a great return from a 22-year-old still in the process of finding his true identity as a footballer (that sounds deep, but you know what I mean). He scored some vital goals, such as the first goal in out 4-0 demolition of Real Madrid at the Emirates, and he certainly offers something different to Theo Walcott with his high technique and flair. Despite being a natural attacking midfielder, I pretty much exclusively deployed him as a right or left winger. I hope to see more of the same from Serge in the coming years!
That concludes my 2017/18 season review! Hope you enjoyed reading the piece and look out for more to come!