No matter which way you look at it – this past season has been far from acceptable.
It’s been a tumultuous twelve months OFF the pitch – but on the pitch, Arsenal have veered from some mightily impressive results, to frankly amateur, in the space of 90 minutes.
Consistency has been hard to come by and Mikel Arteta now has to answer the doubts that are spreading regarding his position. The Spaniard can finally enjoy a first pre-season with his squad to help prepare for what will be the season that defines his tenure at the club – and the target has to be a top 4 spot.
After last season, that might sound ambitious, but Arsenal’s reputation is slipping fast. We are still considered one of the ‘bigger’ sides, but revenue is down and the Gunners haven’t been in the CL since 2017.
After some serious money thrown at the transfer window since then, it means it’s high time we returned – but to do that, Arteta must address some key issues with his team.
Here are the 3 key areas that Arteta must concentrate on this summer to hopefully improve our weaknesses and go into next season with genuine hope of returning to the top4:
Holding out for a playmaker:
We ranked 12th for big chances created in the Premier League last season. Teams like Brighton, Leeds and Villa all ranked higher – with Newcastle only one step below us. That is a travesty for this club, which has been synonymous with free-flowing football for so long. Part of the problem is that we recruited Martin Odegaard in January, and before that we were at times playing like a team that belongs in the bottom half of the table. The Norwegian certainly helped us on the creation side of things, but as I write, Odegaard is back on the books at Real. Our top assist maker last season? Willian.
That says it all. We need a player who can split enemy lines, can play with his head up and has an affinity with the runs of our forward players. Odegaard would fit the bill, although his fee could be off-putting. The likes of Julien Brandt from BVB would be strong candidates too.
A partner for Partey
Granit Xhaka’s resurgence in the second half of last season showed what a player he can be, but the Swiss star has burned us one too many times with stupid errors. While Xhaka has gone some way to making up for them, is he the long-term answer to improving our stature in the PL?
Perhaps not, but what do we need? Partey never came close to showing what he is capable of last season. The player who changed defence into attack so rapidly at Atletico, who broke up attacks and started his own in seconds. Partey needs a pivot partner who will sit in the trenches with him and allow him the peace of mind to launch those forward runs. The likes of Yves Bissouma from Brighton has been mentioned, and Bissouma ranks high on interceptions and tackles in the PL overall.
Get Auba back on the goal trail
Auba had his first sketchy season since his Ligue Un days. He deserves our faith in him as since his signing, he has been consistently our greatest threat. He will return to where he was, but he needs a decent supply. That’s where a new playmaker can help.
He also needs Arteta to settle on one position or set of rules for him. At times out on the left he demands Auba tracks back. At other times, he has the license to float and Xhaka will be the cover on the left flank. Either way, to get Auba back to Golden Boot contention, a firm set of tactics and a player in the team to create can only help Auba – and the team’s causes too.
What do you think? Where else do Arsenal need to focus on?