The Arsenal in the Summer series looks at what has happened to the club during the summer months year on year. Over 60 seasons have been covered in this series, and there is a full index here.
It is extraordinary how Arsenal’s summers have changed and evolved over time and I do hope you find the series interesting. In the next few posts we’ll be bringing the series up to 2018.
So here is the summer of 2016. The league season had finished with this table…
|7||West Ham United||38||16||14||8||65||51||14||62|
It was the season in which Leicester won the league for the first (and so far only) time – a completely unexpected result, which the pundits kept on saying was not possible, until it was the only result possible. Arsenal came second, which offered hope for the season to come. It was Arsenal’s best position since 2004/5 when the club came runners’ up and won the FA Cup.
The last match of the season had Arsenal and Tottenham fighting to gain second place – and for Arsenal to extend the run of seasons in which they came above Tottenham.
In the final game of the season Arsenal beat Aston Villa 4-0 while Tottenham (who only needed a draw to come above Arsenal in the final table) having been talked up by the pundits followed a 1-2 home defeat to Southampton then lost 5-1 away to Newcastle despite Newcastle going down to 10 men early on. It was a match closely followed by the crowd at Arsenal Stadium and the cheers for the Newcastle goals (and subsequent singing of “It’s happened again”) were as great as the cheers for Arsenal’s goals.
With this being a Euros summer transfer activity was somewhat disrupted by tournament issues, but much was made by the media of Arsenal signing Vardy from Leicester. On 23 June after a series rumours that Arsenal had tried to sign Vardy from Leicester, the club and player admitted that he had signed a new contract and that there never had been any chance of Vardy going to Arsenal. They had just been strining Arsenal along.
In fact Vardy stayed at Leicester not just this season, but thereafter (at least until the summer of 2019) as Leicester started to struggle with the huge wage bills they now had to pay to their existing players to keep them at the club. Leicster could not repeat their performance of this season and in the subsequent three campaigns came 12th, 9th and 9th.
Here are the rest of the events for this summer…
11 July 2016: Isaac Hayden sold to Newcastle for a fee thought to be around £2.5m
18 July 2016: After a long run over loan spells Wellington Silva was finally transferred to Fluminense.
22 July 2016: Arsenal signed Bolton’s Player of the Year Rob Holding for £2m. The transfer was met with wholesale derision by the anti-Wengerian mob who were spurred on by the mass media and their newly emerging small scale blogs. Although no one seemed to apologise for the abuse by the end of the season when Holding put in a sterling display in the Cup Final one year later to see off Chelsea, it was apparent that this was another Wenger work of absolute brilliance.
4 August 2016: Wojciech Szczęsny loaned to Roma for the season, having fallen out with Mr Wenger over the smoking in the changing room incident.
5 August 2016: Kelechi Nwakali transferred to Arsenal from Diamond Football Academy for around £3m.
5 August 2016: Stefan O’Connor loaned to Maastricht for the season
5 August 2016: Julio Pleguezuelo loaned to Mallorca for the season.
5 August 2016: Arsenal beat Viking 8-0 in Stavanger as a warm up to the match against Manchester City in Norway two days later.
6 August 2016: Ilias Chatzitheodoridis released by Arsenal and joined Brentford on a free transfer.
7 August 2016: Arsenal concluded a pre-season without their major stars who had been involved in the Euros, with a 3-2 victory over Manchester City. Chuba Akpom scored for the fourth match in a row.
8 August 2016: Mesut Özil, Laurent Koscielny and Olivier Giroud returned to Arsenal long after the rest of the team having played through to the final of Euro 2016. It was announced that all three would be missing from the squad for the opening match of the season as would be Mertersacker who had been injured in the summer and would be out for “months”. He did however return to play brilliantly in the cup final in May.
14 August 2016: Arsenal lost the opening match of the season 3-4 to Liverpool. Three players including Koscielny were out because of prolonged international duty while Mertesacker and Gabriel were injured leaving Arsenal with a makeshift defence.
17 August 2016: Tafari Moore loaned to Jong FC Utrecht for the season.
20 August 2016: Having lost the opening match at home to Liverpool, Arsenal drew away to champions Leicester as anti-Wenger “fans” undertook a co-ordinated protest which gave Leicester renewed hope of snatching a victory close to the end. It was a sign of what was to come.
21 August 2016: Joel Campbell loaned to Sporting CP for the season. Although the season was a success, Joel then played in a 2017 summer international tournament for his country and was injured, taking him out of the side for at least the first half of the 2017/18 season.
26 August 2016 Takuma Asano loaned to Stuttgart for the season.
27 August 2016: Arsenal beat Watford 3-1 away to secure their first win of the season. It was the first of six consecutive league wins, and the start of a run of 10 wins and three draws in 13 consecutive league games during which Arsenal scored 30 goals.
28 August 2016: Arsenal signed Lucas Pérez for £17.1m from Deportivo de La Coruña by activating his release clause.
30 August 2016: Shkodran Mustafi signed from Valencia for £35m.
30 August 2016: Calum Chambers given a season long loan with Middlesbrough, who were eventually relegated. He had a second loan in 2018/19 with Fulham, who were also relegated.
31 August 2016: Serge Gnabry sold to Werder Bremen who soon sold him to Bayern Munich who then in July 2017 sent him out on loan. He returned to Bayern for the 2018/19 season with much acclaim.
31 August 2016: Jack Wilshere loaned to AFC Bournemouth for the season. He was due to go to Roma but reports suggested Bournemouth offered a £2m fee and Jack was happier staying in England. He transferred to WHU in the summer of 2018.
31 August 2016: Kelechi Nwakali loaned to Maastricht for the season.
In the season 2016/17 however, Arsenal came in fifth.