The 2020/21 season has been an immense struggle and rebuild for Arsenal. The season has ended with promise, but it has been a campaign filled with more misery as they look to finally find their way three years on from the departure of Arsene Wenger.
It has been a tough learning curve for Mikel Arteta in his first full season as a manager, but now he must build on what has been a difficult season for everyone at the club.
Arsenal Need to Push on Next Season After Rebuild
At times, it was less said the better about the Gunners.
The first half of the season was summarised by a run of two wins in 12 games and, at one point, a dangerous flirtation with relegation. Although that was never likely, Arteta’s side had hit the lowest low in the modern history of the club.
There were further horrors within that run. They went on a run of five games without a win at home, which at that point led to calls for Arteta to be removed from his position.
However, the second half of the season has seen them bounce back, albeit slightly. They have collected 42 points since matchday 15, the fourth most in the Premier League. Arteta has given youngsters a chance, and that young core looks to be the building point heading into next season.
This season has not been pretty or spectacular to watch this season for Arsenal fans. However, with a little bit of fine-tuning in the way of signings this summer, there could be a bright future next season.
Player of the Season – Bukayo Saka
Arsenal’s ‘Player of the Year’ reads more of a young player of the year list. Although the goals from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette and lately Nicolas Pepe have helped steer the ship, it has been the young players who have stood out.
Bukayo Saka has been a shining light wherever he has been on the pitch. The teenager’s versatility has meant that Arteta has used him at full-back, on both wings as well as in the centre of midfield. Standout memories include a goal and an assist in a 3-1 win over Southampton, as well two assists against Benfica in the Europa League round of 32.
Apart from Saka, Emile Smith Rowe has been another standout player for the Gunners this season. He has flourished next to Real Madrid loanee Martin Odegaard during the second half of the campaign, operating in a slightly advanced role further up the pitch. Like his teammate Saka, the 20-year-old has registered seven goals and seven assists this season.
Elsewhere, as previously mentioned, Nicolas Pepe’s late-season form and improvement is owed a huge amount of recognition. The Ivorian ended the season with a late flurry, scoring eight times in 11 appearances. The trio of Saka, Smith Rowe and Pepe could make for an intriguing three in a 4-2-3-1, with the striker role perhaps still up for grabs.
Costly Home Form Needs to Be Improved Next Season
If there is one place where Arsenal drastically need to improve, it is at The Emirates Stadium.
The Gunners’ home ground is not the fortress that it once was. Teams do not fear playing there anymore, and Arteta needs to change that next season.
Arsenal lost seven games at home this season, the most of their traditional top-six rivals. Although you can point to that dismal run of four defeats in a row earlier in the season, seven defeats at home is simply not good enough.
How they can change it remains the question. Arsenal were at both ends of the pitch in the Premier League, especially at home, scoring 24 goals and conceding 21. A sturdier defence next season will certainly be the aim.
A Summer of Change
A summer of change has been the rhetoric every season left Arsene Wenger left his seat in the dugout in 2018. However, this could be the most important summer of change since the Frenchman departed North London.
Arsenal need European football at a bare minimum. A season without it is one too many for such a historic club – they need to find a way back to their former glory.
Mikel Arteta will have to be savvy in the transfer market this summer, as the Gunners won’t be as attractive as they once were. However, they already have their targets lined up, with Brighton & Hove Albion’s Yves Bissouma one of several potential acquisitions in midfield, according to Italian journalist Fabrizio Romano.
Romano is also reporting that there could be players leaving the club, too. Granit Xhaka is attracting interest from AS Roma, while both Hector Bellerin and Willian could also be allowed to leave.
As a result, there could be plenty of changes ahead at The Emirates this summer, and they now push on and move ahead with the rebuild. Failure to do so may see another managerial change and further struggle ahead.
Embed from Getty Images