There’s no debate that the 2018-19 season finished poorly for Unai Emery and his Arsenal team. Not only did they blow a top four place in spite of the teams around them doing their best to mess up Champions League qualification, the saving grace of winning the Europa League and getting into the CL via the back door went as they lost in disappointing fashion to Chelsea.
Still, the great thing about football is that you only have to wait a few weeks and you can go again with a new season, although realistically, the Gunners must not miss out on the top four for a fourth consecutive season. 2019-20 brings new opportunities and the club has invested heavily in Nicolas Pepe, who must be expected to hit the ground running early in the campaign. He has yet to start a match, but you have to believe he will do just that at Anfield given the below par displays from Reiss Nelson in the opening two matches.
Arsenal are outsiders with most of the best betting sites which can be found at https://footballjunkie.co.uk/best-betting-sites/, but Emery’s side have beaten the odds before, and they could do it again this season. Here’s how.
The beginning to the 2018-19 season saw two back-to-back defeats to begin the season (albeit against tough opposition). This season, the complete opposite, with wins from the first two matches putting Arsenal second in the table. In fairness, the teams faced were – in terms of quality – kind to Emery’s team. Certainly Newcastle are expected to be locked in a relegation battle over the next nine months, and Burnley have not won as much as a point from Arsenal for several seasons now.It was imperative that these fixtures are won when you consider that the next three fixtures aren’t as clear cut. A trip to Anfield followed by the first North London derby of the season, and then a tricky assignment against Watford all look particularly tough on paper. The Gunners aren’t going to win every game, but if they could somehow take 6 points from their next three fixtures it would be an excellent start to the season and put the club on the right track for a solid season.
The Christmas period was another part of the season where the club really struggled last time out. Between the 5th December and the 12th January, Arsenal only won on three occasions out of a possible eight. Considering that the Gunners missed out on a place in the top four by one point, this was a clear area where they could have made up ground. During this run they failed to win away from the Emirates as they lost to Southampton, Liverpool and West Ham, while they also drew at the Amex against Brighton & Hove Albion.
This will need to improve in 2019-20 as they once again travel to West Ham over this period, as well as Bournemouth and Crystal Palace. At least they are facing Manchester City, Chelsea and Manchester United at home over the festive period, which means it could easily be a season-defining stage of the campaign. Should Emery’s side come out of it with at least 12 points from the 18 available, then they will be on the right path to finishing in the top four.
Last Five Fixtures
The door was left open for any of the top six to finish in the top four last season, but none of the Chelsea, Spurs, Arsenal or Manchester United demonstrated much in the way of cutting edge with the third and fourth place teams over just scrambling over the line. The Gunners finished one point off fourth-placed Tottenham, and their final results were bitterly disappointing. Emery’s side only won once in their last five, and that came on the final day against Burnley. During this period, the club lost to Crystal Palace at the Emirates, as well as away from home against Wolves and Leicester City. And even simply winning their final home game of the season against Brighton would have ultimately been enough to make the top four.
This is another aspect where the club must improve, and the fixtures on paper don’t look the easiest. There are matches against Leicester, Tottenham and Liverpool before a final away game of the season against Aston Villa and a closing day fixture against Watford. It’s possible that all the teams that the Gunners are facing in their final five could be competing for something come the end of the season, so they really need to be in a strong position going into these matches, as they could be difficult to take points from if they need them to guarantee finishing in the top four.
Let’s hope they are not on the outside looking in come ‘squeaky bum time’ next spring…