Just 43 days after raising the FA Cup with victory over Chelsea, Arsenal will certainly start the 2020/21 Premier League project with an away journey to Fulham on 12 September.
The fastest pre-season ever before, complying with by the club’s worst league advocate 25 years, did finish with a prize, but that really did not mask the unpleasant nature of a project that started with such guarantee.
A club-record transfer fee was spent lavishly and also it was wished previous supervisor Unai Emery – remember him? – can begin to totally execute his ideas, just for everything to decipher swiftly. Fortunes discolored, and also the club was unloaded right into a dark duration without any apparent light at the end of the passage.
Mikel Arteta’s visit brought restored positive outlook, but while the club can just round up an 8th location finish in the Premier League, victory in the FA Cup safeguarded European football, with the club currently preparing a thorough team overhaul to make a charge for a top 4 berth.
Exciting times, but similarly hopeless times. Champions League football need to be safeguarded. So, without additional trouble, below is ‘s review of the season ahead for Arsenal.
While on-field improvements and a clearer view of the future have been implemented, the overriding emotion in and around the club is one of genuine belief. While Arsenal fans have been guilty of being far too ambitious in the past when reality suggested otherwise, this time the disconnect that tore the club apart has been bridged. Hope has returned.
Optimism is what keeps supporters on board, but with Arteta in the hotseat, the players are now buying into his methods and the style of football has improved as a result. For the first time in years, all affiliated with the club are fully behind the project at hand.
It stems from the fine work the manager has done in just nine short months. A remarkable outcome considering the vast majority were firmly against him being appointed when he was first linked in 2018. Now there is a general acceptance that while the road ahead won’t be smooth, the bumps will only cease to strengthen the club as they aim to return among Europe’s elite.
Arsene Wenger’s stubbornness, if you like, to back his players no matter what bore differing results. On one hand, his belief would see players flourish, while on other occasions his steadfast defence of certain individuals, no matter how poorly the performed, angered supporters who craved improvements in quality.
Arteta has come in and made it abundantly clear that the squad is not good enough to compete for the top four. The wrong attitudes will be punished, the lack of quality seen to, with very few players assured of their place in the team.
That is exciting. Fans have yearned for a clear out for years. It’s finally in motion, although the challenge at hand can’t be understated. It isn’t as simple as shifting players out and bringing new ones in. Fans must come to terms with that.
While the belief at the club is sky-high at present – well, at least more than previously – it doesn’t mask the considerable pressure weighing heavy on the club’s – and Arteta’s – shoulders.
A return to the Champions League is paramount, so with plenty of incomings and outgoings, if results don’t start to pick up then the pressure will mount. Any poor run of form will be demoralising to the players, who came under similar scrutiny throughout last term.
Arsenal have already been crippled financially, but the implications of another season outside of Europe’s elite would have damning consequences.
It’s all well and good being excited about the potential signings this summer, but more is needed. Yes, Gabriel Magalhaes and Willian have come in, joining Cedric Soares and Pablo Mari, but there is still a significant dearth of quality in areas across the pitch.
Up front, Arsenal are well stocked with experience and youth, but in midfield the same deficiencies remain glaringly obvious. Dani Ceballos’ return will please supporters, but with Granit Xhaka and Mohamed Elneny being the central midfield partnership used in the Community Shield, it hardly gets the pulses racing.
As it is, the squad is not good enough for a top four finish. The imminent contract extension for Pierre-Emerick Aubamayeng will provide a welcome lift, but there are still areas of concern that need resolving. Premier League football is on the horizon, and while the window is still open, ideally those additions come in as soon as possible to be given time to fully embed themselves into the squad.
For now, it’s reason for concern.
Probably the easiest question for an Arsenal fan to answer. No other player at the club does what Aubameyang does. He is a class above in the side, and among the very best in the league. A truly world class forward.
His contributions are invaluable to the club. No player has scored more goals in all competitions on these shores since he joined in January 2018, which is especially remarkable considering last season he played in a side utterly bereft of creativity that went on their worst winless run for 42 years.
His 27 goals last season was most closely matched by Alexandre Lacazette, who scored 12. It’s fair to say he’s the key man.
Of course, that’s not forgetting goalkeepers Bernd Leno and Emiliano Martinez, who demonstrated their importance to the side last season, while Buyako Saka has emerged as one of the brightest talents in English football after a superb breakthrough campaign.
Having belief, backing your manager and your players, seeing progression and feeling positive is great. The club need that level of support.
However, seeing the other sides Arsenal are going to be competing with investing so heavily in their squads and making inroads of their own is genuine cause for concern. As it is, the Gunners are heading into their season opener against Fulham with gaps to fill. Quite large gaps at that.
It appears as if their transfer business will be left to wait until the 11th hour, which is simply too late if they are to launch a meaningful charge on the top four.
Europa League looks on the horizon once more, regardless of how well the manager is doing.
Prediction: Europa League Qualification