It’s fair to say that Arsenal concluded the 2020-21 campaign well below expectations.
Fans will no doubt be disappointed by how things have turned out, with the team taking a backward step instead of making the progress Mikel Arteta wanted to deliver.
For a club of such prestige and stature as Arsenal, finishing the season without qualifying for Europe is a huge blow, despite the hierarchy and their dalliance with joining the Super League elite.
Thankfully, the loud and proud voice of protesting fans quickly nipped that potential folly in the bud.
So, what next for the Gunners? How do they improve ahead of what promises to be a challenging 2021-22 campaign? The “time to go” brigade will inevitably be calling for Arteta’s head, although according to reports, the Spaniard will be given more time to build, with the club planning to back him with significant spending on transfers.
In truth, as the gaffer himself has often said, there is plenty of quality in the squad and solid foundations upon which to build for the future. If the club can make some notable additions during the summer transfer window, that will go some ways towards reassuring fans the Kroenke’s mean business.
The key objective next season will be battling to finish within the Premier League top four, although without European football next season, attracting certain players will be even more difficult. That said, Arsenal will always remain an attractive proposition for players, beyond the undoubtedly lucrative economic terms being offered.
At present, there are mixed opinions with bookmakers about how Arsenal will fare next season. Some believe that Arteta will finally encounter the winning formula, following a busy period of reinforcing the squad. However, others have little faith the Gunners will even jostle for position within the top six.
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Looking ahead to what is undoubtedly a crossroads for Arsenal, the club will obviously need to have a clear strategy of their own in place, if their own expectations and those of the fans are to be met. New signings will need to settle in quickly, simply because while Arteta is getting more time to forge a more competitive side, the pressure on him remains.
Following the Premier League defeat at home against Everton, it almost seemed like destiny that Arsenal would be eliminated from the Europa League against Villarreal. The curse of a former manager, with Unai Emery often taunted in the press for his “good ebening” pronunciation, accompanied by what ultimately became a disappointing tenure at the Emirates.
Nevertheless, performances have improved since the frustration of that European semi-final exit. Arteta is eager to ensure that regardless of what has transpired this season, the team ends the season on a high note. The victory against West Brom followed by beating Chelsea at Stamford Bridge those were two good results that will certainly help his cause.
Once the dust settles on the 2020-21 season, Arteta and technical director Edu Gaspar will no doubt evaluate what is needed going forward.
This points towards the possibility of clearing out some of the overpaid and underperforming stars, while seeking to influence a brighter future with hungrier talents, keen to help Arsenal win silverware.
Hopefully, instead of misfiring, the Gunners will be able to provide a full-salvo challenge for honors next term.
If not, there is already speculation that Edu will be forced to fire Arteta by the midway point of next season, if Arsenal aren’t in a genuine position to jostle amongst the top four.
Only time will tell if the club’s continued faith in the Spanish coach is rewarded.