Arsenal’s season ended on a sour note, but it was a journey that many will remember as one of the club’s finest since their move to the Emirates Stadium.
The real challenge for the title, which ended with a second-place finish, was the driver after an early exit from the League Cup (third round), the FA Cup (fourth round) and the Europa League (round of 16). Arsenal now awaits their first season in the Champions League since 2016-17 as the nucleus of their squad is a group of young, talented and mature players who are set to be together for the foreseeable future.
Before moving on to the next season, it is necessary to think.
the athlete Entrants were asked to respond to a survey, featuring 10 of the main questions facing Arsenal this summer. It’s resonated in the thousands, and it’s given us an insight into the sentiment among a section of the fanbase.
Below are the results, interspersed with some of your thoughts from the comments section and ratings by Arsenal writer, Art de Roché.
How happy are you with Arteta as manager?
As would be expected, the vast majority of those involved are happy with the job Mikel Arteta has done this season.
With the way the season ended, it’s understandable that there was some difference in how happy fans were. The prevalence of results is well summarized by Adam b.
“Overall, Mikel is doing a good job and it’s been a good season in the league. But man, the last eight games have been bad. We have to address that because it’s two seasons in a row.” He says.
Interestingly, this is not too different from the position held by respondents to our 2020-21 end-of-season poll. At the time, Arsenal had finished eighth and were knocked out in the semi-finals of the Europa League, yet 79.2 per cent of people felt Arteta deserved to remain in charge with one man finding it hard to judge the club’s systemic failings. Since then, Arsenal’s direction under the Spaniard has become more straightforward, which is why at least 95 per cent of people are somewhat happy with him.
the athlete Referee: Arteta’s season has been very positive. Some of the ideas he had tried to implement in previous seasons finally came to fruition, and he was able to learn from the failures of years past – mostly by helping to change the mindset of the team and the club. There is still room for improvement in how it handles changes in momentum, be it in matches or over a few matches. Next season, it would be good to see him take more steps in this regard and start making appropriate use of his team.
How happy are you with Arsenal’s performance this season?
Again, the majority were pleased with Arsenal’s performance this season. Whether people feel four or five is a good fit likely depends on how much their expectations have changed during the season, as shown in John B.
“I adjusted my hopes with the team as the season progressed,” he says. “Champion League qualification and a good trophy was how I started. As the season went on, I resisted hoping to win the title itself, but I wanted the players to experience what it takes to stay challenged through the end-of-season run. Good learning to push into the future.
“Very proud of how well they have done (the only team that has given City something to think about) but a frustrated Arteta has not been able to provide his players with the mentality, know-how and tactics to assert or regain control in difficult runs in pressing games.”
the athlete Referee: Arsenal have done a lot right this season. The biggest takeaway is that not only were they playing good football, they were doing it in a way that was reminiscent of Arsenal’s old teams, with their play being fluid. The frustration with space displays comes towards the end of the season, but this season has given Arsenal a better foundation than many could have imagined last summer. Now is the time to build on that.
Can Arsenal challenge for the title again next season?
Before we delve into that topic, it has to be said that 97 per cent of Arsenal fans were optimistic heading into 2022-23 when they were polled last summer – that was the most combined of all. Athletic Premier League subscribers along with Tottenham Hotspur supporters.
That optimism has proven well justified, and ahead of next season, almost everyone expects Arsenal to be competitive again.
the athlete The verdict: Arsenal have felt different this season, and that bodes well for next year. Besides playing football well, even with a late meltdown, they have proven on multiple occasions that they have the makings of a team that can compete in many ways.
There are footballing themes that have fueled their progress, such as how they stifle teams with their high defensive line or unpredictability in possession, which Oleksandr Zinchenko typifies. They’ve also gotten better at sensing what’s needed at certain moments in matches, even if there’s still some work to do.
Is Kroenke Sports & Entertainment (KSE) the right owner of Arsenal?
What is interesting is that the result has changed dramatically from two years ago (immediately after the UEFA Premier League scandal) when 93.2 percent of people felt that the KSE was not right for Arsenal. That figure turned out to be 84.9 per cent of people backing their entry this summer, likely due to the support Arteta has shown in the transfer market as well as the growing presence of Josh Kroenke.
mom m He explains that the “maybe” option would have been more helpful in this regard because it’s hard to really judge the proprietor’s suitability when so much of his judgment is driven by results.
the athlete The verdict: The KSE has been more active in recent years and the role of the 2021 fan protests should not be underestimated. Josh did indeed become more involved and visible at the time but has done so even more since then. The main thing is to continue to show support across the Arsenal teams to ensure they stay competitive rather than being sidelined in the coming seasons.
Where do you expect Arsenal to finish in the Premier League next season?
Although there is optimism that Arsenal will challenge for the title again, most people are predicting a second-place finish once again. This probably shows the hope/ambition the club is maintaining at least at the level they have had for the majority of this season, which is unbelievable.
Alfredo N He says “Hopefully the KSE will see the growth of this side and back Mikel and Edu with the final pieces needed to mount a real challenge for the title. It is a year behind schedule now for two consecutive seasons. Really try now and bridge that gap.”
the athlete The verdict: Returning to second place is a healthy expectation. As Alfredo recalls, Arsenal have been oddly better than expected leading to the back end of the past two seasons. Many foundations have been laid, and now it’s about adding the right ingredients to make full use of the moments they missed this season – which they managed to do last year.
Which midfielder would you like Arsenal to buy the most?
This isn’t much of a surprise considering he’s been a target for Arsenal since January, but Declan Rice got the most votes.
It’s no mystery, however Michael O He is right when he says “The strength of quality in depth is the key for next season”. Perhaps that’s why, despite Declan Rice getting the lion’s share of the vote, there was still a fair amount left for Moses Caicedo – who showed he’s versatile enough to fill in as the right-back at the Emirates earlier this month.
Athletic Referee: The center is the priority and Rice is the primary target. With Granit Xhaka apparently on its way out, he can’t be the only addition in the field. What’s impressive about Rice, however, is that he has the qualities to play in multiple roles in midfield which could make Arsenal more unpredictable than they have been in midfield this season.
What valuable assets would Arsenal have to sell to balance the books?
This is where people were most divided. Thomas Partey had the highest share but the absence from the list of Folarin Balogun, whose votes he might have competed with, was a mistake. However, the split in decisions shows Arsenal could have a variety of assets to draw from this summer.
Athletic Referee: Either Kieran Tierney or Balogun would make sense going forward. Tierney still has three years on his contract, which is a good age and he’s one of the best players in the league at his position, so he should be getting a decent fee. It’s unfortunate how the domino effect of Zinchenko’s arrival affected his playing time.
For Balogun, with interest soaring after a record-breaking season with Stade de Reims, capitalizing on that seems prudent. It is also likely to be the first choice elsewhere.
Would you be sad to see Xhaka go?
It would have been interesting to see these results had Xhaka left for Roma two summers ago. Arteta had faith in the Swiss from the moment the Spaniard took charge, but that faith took longer to build among the fans; 62.7 percent of those who responded are saddened by his passing.
However, a fair share still have mixed feelings about the player’s imminent move to Bayer Leverkusen. Rather than being a result of his actions against Crystal Palace in 2019, it is likely to come from his best season in an Arsenal shirt when he was 30, and the need to step up in midfield.
“On Granit – Mixed Feelings, But Only” Chris S “For sure, there’s a joy in the way he turned things around and that he’s leaving in true good faith,” he says. “It’s a story of tenacity that he takes credit for both Xhaka and Arsenal’s support.”
“His personality will be somewhat lacking. But I’m glad to see we let him go; recognizing him is a stance we need to improve on if we want to move forward. These are the moves of a high-performance club. Hopefully it will be good for everyone.”
Athletic The verdict: There may be a parting ways in time, but Arsenal stand to lose more than just a midfielder. Although his contributions in the final third will be what people remember, this season has once again shown that Arsenal lack a real presence in midfield without Xhaka. Their main targets should help complement that, but their influence on and off the field may not be easy to replace.
Should we recruit a striker with a more direct image than Gabriel Jesus?
Conversation Point Since before Jesus came to the club, what profile would fit them best? The Brazilian has elevated Arsenal’s attacking line this season, but there have been times when he has become less efficient.
No doubt He says “Jesus has improved compared to recent seasons, however he needs a more physically strong player who can count on 25+ goals.”
Jesus scored 10 goals despite his poor xG performance of 3.6 going into the last game of the season, but the desire for more is there.
the athlete The verdict: This seems like the icing on the proverbial cake. Arsenal have to get their foundations in order first – midfield and depth at the back. They didn’t miss out on the title not because they didn’t score enough goals but because they lacked composure at key moments in the midfield areas and were cold defensively.
Objectives come from multiple players, but of course, a more physical or prolific option would be ideal to give them more of a threat.
What are your expectations in the Champions League?
It was interesting that, despite some disparity in the overall outlook, almost everyone thinks Arsenal should at least come out of their group.
the athlete Referee: The quarter-finals seem like a fair prediction for the quality of the starting line-up. The depth could cause some concern if Arsenal fail to “fix” his recruit as Arteta has repeatedly said. They’ve been pushed too hard at times in the Europa League, so moving forward will only mean stiffer competition – but it’s a challenge to embrace.
(Photo: Glenn Kirk/AFP via Getty Images)