A Season In Review: Arsenal

Arsenal celebrate goal against Nottingham Forest in the Premier League

In this series of 20 articles, we take a look back at the Premier League season, focusing on each team individually. We take a look at transfer window activity, managerial changes, and key points throughout the season.

Take a look at my article assessing the 13 managerial changes that occurred in the Premier League this season!

Transfer Windows

In terms of departures, Arsenal did not lose anyone of note. The biggest surprise potentially is the small transfer fee received by Fulham for Leno. Other than that, it seemed Arsenal were keen to keep the core of their players, loaning out some youth, and getting rid of the dead wood.

In terms of players arriving, Arsenal had some great transfer windows. The arrival of Gabriel Jesus and Zinchenko from Man City displayed their aspirations to the rest of the league, with Jesus hitting the ground running before getting injured.

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The arrival of an inform Trossard from Brighton in January showed some good business from the Gunners, bringing the winger in to carry them over the line. The purchase of Jorginho from Chelsea may have raised a few eyebrows, and it certainly seemed a strange signing at the time.

Arsenal also added a few exciting youngsters to their ranks, with Vieira arriving from Porto, Jakub Kiwior coming from Spezia Calcio and Marquinhos from Sau Paulo.

All in all, the Gunners had a brilliant transfer window. They signed some great players to bolster their first-team squad, filled in the gaps on the bench, and bought some players for the future, all whilst losing no first-team players.

Key Games

Arsenal have a history of not being able to compete in the big games. Wenger’s 1000th game in charge of Arsenal, he suffered a 6-0 loss away against Chelsea. Even looking at their first 4 games last season, they lost 2-0 against Chelsea, and 5-0 against Man City.

This season, that all changed. Despite losing against Man United early in the season, they went on to beat Liverpool in one of the games of the season, beat Chelsea and Spurs, and beat Man United in the reverse fixture.

The pick of the bunch would be the game against Liverpool. Twice they took the lead, and twice they were pegged back, until Saka’s winning penalty with 14 minutes to go. This result showed the rest of the league that Arsenal were serious about their title challenge.

Unfortunately for Arsenal, the two games that really mattered, the key games of their season, they did not deliver. Their first game against Man City, in the league, took place in the middle of February due to both teams’ contributions in cup competitions.

This was always going to be their biggest test. A game against their biggest rivals of the season. Did they deliver? In short, no. Despite having most of the ball, an impressive feat against a Pep Guardiola side, they only managed one shot on target.

The big game came and went, and Arsenal was disappointed. They did not look like title challengers as they lost 3-1, and it allowed City to overtake them at the top of the table.

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With 9 games to go, Arsenal faced a big challenge. Liverpool at Anfield. This time Arsenal did deliver. They went 2-0 up in the first half an hour before an altercation between Xhaka and Trent Alexander-Arnold woke the Liverpool crowd up.

From there on out, Liverpool pulled two goals back, and both sides had chances to win the game at the end. Ramsdale pulled off some brilliant saves as Arsenal ended up holding on for a point.

Arsenal did not learn from their mistakes. After taking a 2-0 lead after 10 minutes against West Ham, they let a 2 goal lead slip for the second game running, as they recorded back-to-back 2-2 draws.

A game against Southampton awaited them, which many fans thought would be a routine win for the Gunners. Alcaraz and former Gunner Walcott had other ideas as Southampton raced in a 2-0 lead. With 5 minutes to play, the score at 3-1, Arsenal scored two goals in quick succession to gain an unlikely point but surrendered more ground in the title race.

Then, their biggest game of the season. Whoever won this game was the more likely of the two to go on and win the league. City had home advantage, and they certainly made that count. A massive 4-1 win for City left Arsenal relying on their rivals to slip up in the last few games. The pressure was getting the better of Arsenal.

When the title race reached boiling point, Arsenal could not handle it. Back-to-back losses against Brighton and Nottingham Forest handed Man City the title, before the final game of the season. A disappointing end to a great season for Arsenal.

Cup Competitions

Carabao Cup

Arsenal’s time in the Carabao Cup was short, to put it plainly. They entered the competition in the third round and left the competition in the third round.

After being given a home tie against Brighton, Arsenal heavily rotated their team, with players like Hein being given a chance in goal, whilst Nelson and Elneny also started.

This decision came back to bite them, as, despite taking the lead through a 20th-minute Nketiah goal, ended up losing 3-1, and being knocked out of the competition at the first hurdle, in what can only be described as a massive disappointment.

FA Cup

Arsenal also entered the FA Cup in the third round, after being given an away fixture against Oxford United, who reside in League One. Despite the opposition being much weaker than that of their third-round Carabao Cup opponents, Arsenal fielding a relatively strong team.

The Gunners ran out 3-0 winners, a brace from Nketiah and a goal from Elneny setting up a tie against Man City in the fourth round. This was the first time the two teams met, and it ended up being a fairly even game.

The game settled by just one goal, coming from Nathan Ake, sending the Gunners out in the fourth round. This can be considered a disappointment, but against your biggest rivals away from home, there are not many harder games to play.

Europa League

Arsenal were looking to do well in this year’s Europa League, and their group-stage competitors presented them with a good opportunity to progress into the knockout stages. Their first game, away against Zurich ended with a 2-1 win.

Bodo/Glimt were the next opponents for Arsenal, as they won 3-0 at The Emirates before a sole Saka goal handed them their third straight win away against Bodo/Glimt. Arsenal then had their toughest test so far, a home game against PSV, in which they passed, just, thanks to a single goal from Xhaka.

The reverse fixture against PSV presented Arsenal with their only dropped points in the group stage, as they lost 2-0 despite dominating the ball and registering 15 attempts. The group stage came to a close as Arsenal recorded a 1-0 win at home against Zurich.

Arsenal were drawn against Sporting CP in the round of 16, with the first leg being away from home. They took the lead after 22 minutes thanks to a goal from Saliba, but an Inacio goal 10 minutes before half time meant the two teams went in at half-time level.

5 minutes after the restart, Sporting CP took the lead through Paulinho. Arsenal responded quickly, and 7 minutes later were level, through a Morita own goal. The game ended 2-2, presenting Arsenal with a good chance of progressing in the reverse fixture.

Granit Xhaka took the lead for Arsenal after 19 minutes to get Arsenal off to the perfect start. They were pegged back by a 40-yard wonder goal from Pedro Gonçalves, lobbing the ball over a helpless Ramsdale.

There were no more goals before full-time, and the only thing of note in extra time was the sending off of Manuel Ugarte in the 118th minute, meaning penalties were to follow. A clean set of penalties from Sporting CP meant that Martinelli had to score his to give Arsenal any chance, but he did not. He missed, and Sporting CP went through.

It is very disappointing for Arsenal to get knocked out in the round of 16. This is a competition they should have done well in, and they should have gone much further.

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Season Overall

You can look at Arsenal’s season and call it a failure. They led the title race for so long and did not win the league. They failed to win in Europe, or in either of the two domestic cups. But they have come so far compared to last season.

When they were struggling to even get into the top 6, Arteta has completely transformed that side into title contenders, into a force to be reckoned with. He has many young, exciting players like Saka, Martinelli and Odegaard.

They were disappointed in the cup competitions, as they should have gone further. Yes, they did come up against Man City when they got knocked out, but they should not have been getting knocked out of the Europa League by Sporting CP.

The players they have brought in have performed, mostly, and they are going in the right direction for success. If they can keep hold of their main assets, and improve on the weaker ones, then I do not see why they cannot win a trophy next year.

Overall, despite the lack of trophies and disappointing end to the season, it has been a success for Arsenal, as long as they push on and win something next season.

Keep an eye out for the next issue of this Season In Review, which will feature Aston Villa!

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