The 2020/21 Premier League season is around the corner and for Arsenal, it does mean the start of a brand new era under 'first-team manager' Mikel Arteta. The Spaniard has earned a change in title with FA Cup and Community Shield wins but now comes the real work although he may need to be patient.
How well did Arsenal do in the 2019/20 Premier League season?
Saying that Arsenal didn’t have their best ever season is an understatement as the Gunners finished eighth in the league, their lowest in more than twenty years. It also meant that for the first time, in about the same margin, the North Londoners didn’t qualify for European football via a league position with only an FA Cup win earning them a spot in the Europa League. Not only that, they went through a couple of managers before Mikel Arteta walked in and the Spaniard has changed things.
However, even then, the Gunners finished the 2019/20 Premier League season with 14 wins, 14 draws and 10 losses in one of their worst ever seasons. And their numbers backed that as well, with them finishing as the league’s seventh highest goalscorer (56), had the seventh highest xG per 90 (1.29), the eight best assists per 90 (0.92), the sixteenth or fifth worst key passes completed (285), the seventh most touches overall (24196) and the eighth best non-penalty xG or npxG (46).
Defensively, as a big six team, the Gunners struggled and even the arrival of Mikel Arteta, and his subsequent tactical switches not helping their cause. They ended up with the eighth best defensive record (48), the fifth worst PSxG (Post-Shot Expected Goals) (58.5). Furthermore, they produced the sixth most errors leading to a goal (14), the fourth worst successful pressure percentage (26.2%), committed the eighth most fouls (420), had the ninth best clean sheet percentage (21.1%) and did that while averaging the eighth best points per game (1.47).
Improvements they’ve made so far
Well, as improvements go, Arsenal have technically made four permanent signings. That includes a free-transfer move for Willian and Cedric Soares with Pablo Mari and Gabriel Magalhaes arriving for a combined fee of around €35 million. But, in reality, the Gunners have made only two moves this summer with Willian and Gabriel the said moves, although both men should add something that Arsenal have been missing.
The former Chelsea man adds experience and depth in a position that the North Londoners have severly lacked over the years while Gabriel is the left-footed defender they need. The 22-year-old did very well in the Ligue 1 last season but whether he can replicate that this season is a massive question for not just Arsenal but their fans as well. Furthermore, William Saliba arrives after spending the season out on loan with Saint-Etienne and the Frenchman is touted to big things.
But it isn’t enough, as one look at Arsenal’s stats from last season and anyone will realise that they lacked a creative presence and a goalscorer beyond Aubameyang. Alexandre Lacazette and Nicolas Pepe struggled to find their groove which many hope that changes this season especially with Gabriel Martinelli injured. They’ve been linked with moves for Houssem Aouar and Thomas Partey but both men are just out of reach thanks to their transfer fees.
How well could Arsenal do in the 2020/21 Premier League season?
The hope, that many Arsenal fans have, is that what the club has done so far will be enough for a top four berth. Those that believe that have probably lost their mind or on the verge of said happening because given the way Chelsea have spent, and the way Manchester United are planning to spend, Arsenal have little chance of a top four berth. Their best chance would be a sensational collapse and even then with Leicester City in the mix, things are complicated. That is their ceiling though if they do beef up that midfield, if their front-line (all three and backups) hit the season running and if their defense clicks.
This is a team full of hope, especially at the back and if that hope does find it’s footing, then they earn a top five berth, with an outside chance of winning the Europa League for Champions League football. Their floor isn’t all that bad with a top seven place beckoning although should injuries befall their best (Bernd Leno, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and others), then things could get worse. An eighth place finish or even struggling to make the top ten isn’t out of sight but it might be a tad impossible, or is it?