It’s quite the leap.
Jumping from the fringes of Champions League qualification to fighting for the title shows that Mikel Arteta and Edu have got us on the right track.
Now, how do we consolidate this progress – and reach even higher?
Both Edu and Arteta have waxed lyrical about returning Arsenal to the summit of our own league and European football. This season, while it has flirted with glory, has seen us come up just a little short.
That means we need to build on the big steps we’ve made – which means we must strengthen our position. Our squad needs bolstering to contend with the dual threat of Champions League football next season as well as once again hopefully, fighting for the title.
Here’s some areas we need to work on:
Gabriel Maghalaes has been a titan all season. Not only has he been a barricade, he’s been chiefly responsible for transitions from our own third to the central third of the pitch.
It also means that we rely on him pretty heavily.
Then there’s the Saliba situation. You couldn’t fail to notice the large, French defender-shaped hole that was left when Saliba injured his back. Rob Holding valiantly stepped up but there’s a disparity between our central first choice and our backup.
We need another in the ranks who can step in and perform the roles that both Saliba and Gabriel fill. Ben White in the centre is one option, but his displays on the right have been so impressive, it looks like he’s first choice there.
Then we have the Zinchenko / Tierney situation. The Ukrainian has been instrumental in so much of our performances this season – but his tendency to drift inside means Xhaka must cover him. And Tierney’s defending is quite simply, better than Zinchenko’s – something that we might slip on should we decide to sell the Scot.
Some say it was missing Saliba that caused us to drop crucial points in the title run in.
But one of the big reasons was the drop in form of Thomas Partey. The Ghanaian dropped off the face of the earth and has been struggling since March.
Then we have Xhaka – the redemption man. He is held in high regard by the squad and has drastically improved by being moved further up the pitch – but we should be looking for an upgrade. Declan Rice, Moses Caicedo – perhaps even moulding Emile Smith-Rowe into the role?
What of the young Hale End product? ESR has been ominous in his absence on the pitch. Going from a crucial player in our first eleven to surplus in the space of a season has left doubts over his future. Can he show Arteta he should be considered? Can he get back into the team or has Arteta already decided his Arsenal future?
The likes of Elneny perform a crucial role in the squad – slotting in when needed, no fuss, always a 7/10. Every squad needs that type of player.
We might just need a whole new central midfield this summer though. Can ESR step up? Can Partey regain his form? Will Xhaka stay? Will Arteta get a player of the ilk of Declan Rice?
Jesus has been a revelation. And during his injury absence, Eddie Nketiah evidenced he has a role to play in this squad.
But can Folarin Balogun do better? His numbers in Ligue Un tell us he has to be in with a shout.
The likes of Saka and Martinelli have grabbed an amount of goals that means a 25-goal a season striker isn’t quite necessary – but can we continue to heap that responsibility on their shoulders?
Jesus should get more next season if he stays fit – and Martinelli has shown enough nous through the centre that a future at Number 9 may well be fruitful.
But the destiny of both Nketiah and Balogun are hardly nailed on.
What changes would you make this summer for our club to continue challenging for honours next season?