Arsenal Season Preview: Can Mikel Arteta Weave His Magic Once Again?

Arsenal had a whirlwind 2019-20 season, but finished on a high after lifting the FA Cup, and also beat Liverpool in the FA Community Shield clash in August. The previous season had a lot of lows and a few highs, and the club will look to be more consistent under Mikel Arteta next season.

This will be Arteta’s first full season in charge of the Gunners, and if his innovative and brave tactics to outsmart better calibre of opposition are anything to go by, the Gunners should have a good season. There was evidently a paradigm shift in the mentality and performance of the players, and winning some silverware in the span of just a month should further boost their confidence ahead of the new campaign.

Last season showed that Arteta will not shy away from dropping players who aren’t performing on the pitch, as well as those like Matteo Guendouzi, whose conduct on the pitch was questioned by many in the defeat against Brighton last season.

Winning the FA Cup was crucial for Arsenal as they will now play European football, be it the Europa League, and that could help integrate some of the younger players into the team and get them accustomed to the style Arteta wants to implement.

The Transfer Window

Lack of defensive resilience has been a major problem for Arsenal in the past few seasons, and it remains to be seen how their defenders will perform in the upcoming season. Apart from veteran defenders Shkodran Mustafi and David Luiz, Arsenal now also have a couple of extremely talented young players.

gabriel

Arsenal have signed Willian and Gabriel from Chelsea and Lille (Photo by GLYN KIRK/AFP via Getty Images)

William Saliba has returned from his loan spell at St. Etienne, and Gabriel Magalhaes has been roped in to further strengthen Arsenal’s defence. The likes of Pablo Mari, Calum Chambers and Rob Holding are other options that will be useful in what could be a draining season.

Kieran Tierney finished last season in a high, and was perhaps the most consistent player at the back for the Gunners. Can the rest of the Arsenal backline perform with the same level of consistency?

In the midfield region, Arsenal have quantity but lack an adequate amount of quality to challenge for major honours. Although Granit Xhaka has resurrected his career under Arteta, Arsenal need to wrap up the signing of their reported target Thomas Partey from Atletico Madrid to add more steel to their ranks.

Dani Ceballos was another key cog in the Arteta revolution, and his arrival on another loan spell means Arsenal will have the same core that did well towards the end of last season. Moving forward, Arsenal’s attack has also been boosted by the signing of Willian from Chelsea.

Intriguingly, the Brazilian has been acquired on a three-year deal, which raised a lot of eyebrows owing to the fact that he turned 32 this year. However, his consistency and experience, and winning mentality will be massive additions to the Arsenal squad.

Players To Watch Out For

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored 22 league goals last season, and will be their go-to man for the goals once again. Nicolas Pepe had a subpar debut season with the Gunners, and he will be expected to do better this season, with more experience behind him. The attacker is yet to justify his hefty price tag.

nicolas pepe

Will Nicholas Pepe justify his price tag next season?

Further, it will be interesting to see how Bernd Leno fares in goal as Emiliano Martinez will challenge him for his place, if he doesn’t move to a new club for regular playing time.

Willian has arrived on a free transfer, and he could potentially be the signing of the season if he can replicate his Chelsea form at the Emirates.

What To Expect From Arsenal?

Expecting Arteta and his men to go on and win the Premier League would be an unrealistic demand, considering that Manchester City and Liverpool are much better than them in every aspect. The fans will expect a top-four finish, but even that will be a difficult task as Arsenal have a lot of young talents, and they will need time to settle.

Manchester United, Chelsea, and arch-rivals Tottenham have also strengthened their squad, while Everton have added some top players to their squad under Carlo Ancelotti, so there will be plenty of good teams next season. Leicester City will be looking to go one step better and finish in the top four next season as well.

Perhaps a top-six finish would be the bare minimum that Arteta will be expected to deliver, and another cup triumph would do nicely. The Gunners haven’t tasted European glory for a while, they should target the Europa League. If they can win that, a place in the Champions League will be guaranteed for the 2021-22 season.


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