It’s fair to say that the 2019/20 season is not really a good season for Arsenal — as per the club’s high standards. Nevertheless, the club might still end the season with a trophy (should they defeat Chelsea in the FA Cup final) and secure a place in Europe next season.
From playing under 3 different managers in a single season (Emery, Ljungberg, and Arteta), defensive woes, lack of adequate funding, contract disputes, inconsistent performances, 2019/20 Europa league elimination, and the coronavirus pandemic, surely Arsenal fans endured a very torrid season for their beloved club.
The Gunners ended the season in 8th position on the Premier league table, got eliminated in the 4th Round of the League Cup, and the Round of 32 in the Europa League and have an FA Cup final date with Chelsea at Wembley.
The appointment of Mikel Arteta as manager in December is proving to be a masterstroke, as the Spaniard is now giving the club a real sense of direction and gradually stamping his playing style on the team. Under his tutelage, the team have produced some impressive performances, especially in games against Chelsea, Liverpool, and, most importantly, the FA Cup semi-final victory over Manchester City.
In this article, TOP SOCCER BLOG looks at how the club can bounce back in the 2020/21 season.
SUPPORT ARTETA IN THE TRANSFER MARKET
Arsenal owner Stan Kroenke is really frugal when it comes to making signings, and the American businessman has frustrated the Emirates faithful over the years in successive transfer windows. In order to allow the Gunners to remain competitive among their rivals next season, Kroenke has to spend. No doubt, Arteta is a very good coach, but he still needs reinforcement to this current crop of players, especially in defence.
OFFLOAD FRINGE PLAYERS
Should the owners fail to make funds available, the club have to sell players before buying. Should that be the case, uncommitted, unmotivated, and ill-disciplined players like Mesut Ozil (the club’s highest-paid player), Matteo Guendouzi, and on-loan players like Mohammed Elnenny and Henrick Mkhitaryan need to be moved on to raise necessary funds that will be used to bring in new signings.
With 27 goals and 3 assists in 40 appearances so far in all competitions this season, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang still remains Arsenal’s undisputed star player. With his contract expiring in 2021 and other clubs looking to lure him away, tying the Gabonese down to a new contract is a priority for Arsenal. The striker is currently on a £200k per week contract, and the club are hoping that he will accept their new offer of £250k per week. Signing him to a new deal ahead of next season will definitely boost the team’s morale while losing him (especially to a rival) will spell doom for the club.
SORT OUT THE DEFENCE
Arsenal’s shaky, inconsistent, weak and unreliable defence proved to be their Achilles heel during the 2019/20 season, and fans will be looking forward to a significant improvement next term. The arrival of William Saliba from St-Etienne is a welcome development, but expecting a 19-year-old to solve the team’s defensive issues is a pipe dream. Arteta needs to improve the current defenders in the squad and bring in at least one new defensive signing (apart from Saliba).
Arsenal have been linked to likes of Dayot Upamecano (RB Leipzig), John Stones (Manchester City), Danielle Rugani (Juventus) , Samuel Umtiti (Barcelona) Kalidou Koulibaly (Napoli) and Thiago Silva (PSG).
Thiago Silva is currently a free agent after his contract expired at PSG
IMPROVE THE MIDFIELD
To compete against the likes of Man City, Man United, Chelsea, Liverpool and Tottenham, Arsenal need to improve their midfield — which will be weaker should the likes of Ozil, Guendouzi and Torreira leave. Although Arteta has obviously improved the midfield since his arrival, new signings are needed to boost it further. Signing Athletico Madrid’s Thomas Partey will be very ideal as the Ghanaian’s playing style suits Arteta’s philosophy.
SMART TRANSFER ACTIVITIES
To manage the club’s modest finances, the board needs to be very smart in the transfer market. Looking for cost-effective loan deals should be an agenda. Last season, the likes of Dani Ceballos, Pablo Mari, and Cedric Soares were brought in on loan, and they all contributed in their own little ways to aid the team’s fortunes. The likes of Phillipe Coutinho (Barcelona) and James Rodriguez (Real Madrid) will be available on loan, while some good players like Thiago Silva, David Silva (Manchester City) Ryan Fraser (Bournemouth) Mario Gotze (Dortmund) Jan Vertonghen (Tottenham) and Willian (Chelsea) are free agents in the transfer market.
NB: Willian’s situation at Chelsea is still unclear as he has refused to sign the contract offered to him so far.
The £72m club-record signing of Nicolas Pepe (who didn’t perform up to expectation) last summer should serve as a lesson to the Gunners board.
CONTINUE BACKING ACADEMY PLAYERS
Arsenal have a good reputation of blending players from their academy into the first team. During the course of the 2019/20 season, several youngsters from their Hale End academy were given chances which they duly took. The likes of Bukayo Saka, Reiss Nelson, Joe Willock, Matt Macey, and Eddie Nketiah formed part of the Gunners’ first team. With the club’s limited funds, the club should look inwards (as Chelsea did during their transfer ban) and unearth more raw talents from their academy to aid their cause.
With their reputation as regards to giving youths chances, Arsenal will not disappoint in this respect… so expect to see more new faces in the team come next season.
WIN THE FA CUP
Winning the FA Cup will go a long way in impacting the club’s fortunes. With money, Europa league qualification, silverware, and reputation at stake, the Gunners must go all-out in their FA Cup final clash with Chelsea.
Written by Muftaudeen Abdullahi Ishola