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WLYA 2021: Our Year in Review

By Rob Worthington (Deputy Editor)

The WLYA website has almost reached the end of its second full calendar year and the editors and writing team are delighted with the work that has been produced on the site in 2021. We expect as many as 250 articles will have been posted onto the website during 2021 come the end of the year, a feat we really are very proud of. Next year, we'll be looking to produce even more.

Exactly a year ago today, I posted my review of WLYA's 2020 on the site and it's lovely to be able to examine the progress we've made since then. Not only have we remained consistent with our content production, but the quality of said content has gone from strength to strength, indicative of the hard work of our constantly improving writers.

The year started well for both Arsenal and the website. On the pitch, Arsenal remained unbeaten throughout January, and the club did well in the transfer market to clear out some dead wood on top of capturing the signatures of both Maty Ryan and Martin Ødegaard. As for the website, Sash, who admins the brilliant @LTArsenal on Twitter, wrote a guest piece for us. An impressive total of 9 writers contributed articles to the website in January.

As we moved into February, Arsenal began to falter on the pitch but the content produced on WeLoveYouArsenal was of a notably high standard. Chief Editor Alfie Cairns Culshaw wrote a scathing assessment of the quality of Premier League officiating after Arsenal lost 2-1 against Wolves at Molineux before I released my favourite piece of mine from 2021 attacking the homophobic response online to a leaked video of William Saliba.

Throughout the year, my fellow Deputy Editor Daniel Finton has continued his 'Finton's Frolic' series, with one of his most fascinating pieces analysing a video of Thomas Partey brushing his teeth. Phenomenal journalism as always. Credit to Daniel for producing so consistently for us amid his hectic university life.

We've also been delighted to see now-Senior Writer Mac Johnson contribute to the website more frequently this year. It's been a pleasure to host the Extra Cannon Podcast with him as well as watching him grasp an influential role within the WLYA writing team.

It was as Mac's role on the site was growing more eminent that we decided to add a pair of fresh faces to the writing team. The brilliant Sumaiya Vawda, whose fantastic way with words never fails to impress, joined us at the end of March, debuting with the little-known story of Mikel Arteta's links to the English National Team during his playing career.

Max Mischon was also added to the ranks. He blew us away with his first piece, successfully landing a WLYA exclusive interview with CBS Correspondent James Benge. This was quite a coup from Max, and we're still incredibly grateful to him for pulling this one off.

A month later, the mood wasn't quite so rosy at WeLoveYouArsenal. Anger consumed social media as Arsenal along with a number of other high profile football clubs across Europe announced their plans to join a break-away Super League. The plans fell through pretty quickly, with Mac writing a piece mocking the ill-prepared concept of the ESL, but the anger didn't stop there. Alfie and I attended the #KroenkeOut protest in late April, before he released a piece reviewing the symbolic event. Our writer Charlie Maywood took some quite fantastic photos on the day too.

From an Arsenal viewpoint, things didn't get much better from there. The club were dumped out of the Europa Leauge by a Villareal side managed by Unai Emery, with Daniel calling for Arteta's sacking in the aftermath, before Arsenal failed to qualify for European football for the first time in just under 20 years despite a strong end to the season. Hereafter, the likes of Max Mishcon, Mac Johnson and Vinay Shankar all contributed season review pieces.

Roll on Summer and the WeLoveYouArsenal editorial team made another recruit. Jahid Islam was brought into the writing team in early June and he has added a fresh writing style to the site with his unique comedic elements. His first few pieces on the site covering transfer links to the likes of Ruben Neves, Albert Sambi Lokonga and James Maddison were a sign of things to come. Top class.

Moving into the new season off the back of European Championship heartbreak for current Arsenal stars Bukayo Saka, Benjamin White and Aaron Ramsdale, Arsenal fans were pretty happy with their club's Summer business. Like most, Allan Riley elucidated his reservations about now-superstar goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale and Alfie wasn't totally convinced Martin Ødegaard was the right creative signing. However, our Chief Editor was pretty optimistic ahead of the 21/22 campaign.

Then, carnage.

Arsenal lose their first three games of the season leading our writers Allan and Sumaiya to question Arteta's suitability to the role of Arsenal manager. Nonetheless, things have got better since then just as I predicted they would in my piece which proceeded those three painful defeats.

The team went on a strong unbeaten run which included a fantastic north London derby win over rivals Spurs. Daniel took the opportunity in his Finton's Frolic following the match to take some cheap shots at our not so noisy neighbours by pointing out 49 things which are bigger than Tottenham. Worth a read! Tactical Analyst Vinay also delivered some brilliant tactical points, thanks to him for the consistency in his work this year.

And since then, at least from the perspective of usual Arsenal standards, it's been what one might refer to as plain sailing. Disappointing defeats at the hands of Liverpool, Everton and Manchester United have been low points, not to mention the Aubameyang captaincy stripping palaver, but Arsenal are genuinely in a very good position right now.

And there we have it. That's our 2021 in review. It's been a pleasure to provide content for our wonderful readers this year and as aforementioned, we'll seek to continue improving the website in 2022. If you appreciate the work we do, please do share our page with fellow Gooners.

2021, over and out!

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