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Arsenal Season Review – A Season Of Two Halves

Alexandre Lacazette taking a penalty
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If you were to dissect Arsenal’s season into two halves, chalk and cheese would be the appropriate cliché used to describe the stark difference in performance. Before Christmas, Arsenal were relegation contenders stuck in 15th place and only managed to score 12 goals in their opening 14 games. Then came the post-Christmas form, which coincided with Arteta ditching the duds (Willian, Ceballos) and introducing the likes of Smith Rowe and Martinelli into the team. The Gunners finally clicked in the second half of the season and Arteta’s side came away with the 2nd most points and scored the 3rd most goals in the league since boxing day. Despite that brilliant run, the damage done in the opening few months was irreparable and Arsenal only recovered to 8th on the table, ruling them out of European competition for the first time in 25 years next season. 

What went right?


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Once Arsenal introduced Emile Smith Rowe into the team and played with a proper number 10 that can connect the midfield and attack, the results improved drastically. The combination of Saka, Smith Rowe and Martin Ødegaard brought dynamism to Arsenal’s midfield which allowed them to link play and create chances for the forwards, hence changing Arsenal’s fortunes. Arsenal also finished with the third-best defensive record in the league – conceding only 39 goals – and the defensive shape and solidity without the ball was a promising feature of the Arteta tenure. Granit Xhaka polarised opinion but was incredibly important to Arsenal’s build-up play while Alexandre Lacazette and Nicholas Pepe also showed glimpses of brilliance and consistency in the latter half of the season.

What went wrong?

To paraphrase Murphy’s Law, anything that could go wrong did go wrong for Arsenal this season. From staff redundancies to owner protests, to red cards, defensive errors, scoring woes, creativity troubles and the Mesut Ozil saga, this season had it all for Arsenal Football Club. On the pitch, Arsenal’s lack of goals and laboured approach in the early parts of the season hindered progress and Arteta was too slow to make the required changes. The Spaniard’s methodical nature outlawed any creative expression on the pitch and the frequent defensive errors and concentration lapses sprinkled throughout the season, ensured that Arsenal’s campaign was destined for mediocrity.

Player of the Season


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Bukayo Saka was one of the few players that performed consistently for the Gunners throughout the ebbs and flows of the season. The 19-year-old carried Arsenal at times and stood up when the team needed it the most, a rare feat for such a youngster. Saka’s exceptional levels of performance mixed with his positional versatility made him invaluable to Mikel Arteta and the youngster played on both sides as a full-back, wing-back and winger along with some appearances in midfield as a number 8 and a number 10 this season.

Disappointment of the Season

One of the main reasons behind Arsenal’s malaise this season was the poor form of Willian throughout the year. It is difficult and perhaps unfair to single out one player for a team’s poor form but Willian’s lack of output and laboured nature on the ball held the Gunners back in the early part of the season. A return of only one goal in 30 appearances this season highlights his underperformance and the signing of the Brazilian in the summer of 2020 is the perfect reminder that sometimes even free transfers can be incredibly costly.

What Next?


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As highlighted previously (Why It’s Not All Doom And Gloom At Arsenal Football Club), this summer is an incredibly crucial juncture for the Gunners which could either be a launchpad for success or see them continue on this downward spiral. The Arsenal squad needs major surgery in the summer and the right recruitment is incredibly crucial to make sure they make that step next season towards the top four. A new right-back, central midfielder and centre forward are the priority for Mikel Arteta’s side and it’s down to Edu and the ownership to deliver and show that there is some light at the end of the tunnel at Arsenal.


[Image Credit: Premier League]