The 2022/23 Premier League season is around the corner and for Arsenal, it's their attempt to bridge the gap between themselves and the rest of England's elite, especially after a summer of heavy spending. Mikel Arteta has got his two former Manchester City superstars but will they make an impact?
How well did Arsenal do in the 2021/22 Premier League season?
Given the fact that Arsenal did lose the opening three games of their season and were not just in the relegation zone but at the bottom of the table, for them to finish fifth was quite an achievement. But when you consider the fact that the Gunners were, at one stage, the frontrunners to finish in that final Champions League spot, then finishing fifth is a mediocre achievement.
Yet their fifth-place finish, an improvement on the previous season’s 8th, is significant progress but given the fact that they were favourites for the top four, they should have held their nerve. But a lack of depth and a genuine lack of quality in a few positions hurt the team with their statistics playing witnesses as Arsenal finished the season with 22 wins, 3 draws and 13 losses.
Add that to their sixth-best goals scored record (61), the fifth-best xG (59.9) with the fifth-best xG per 90 (1.58) and you see the reason why they missed out on the final Champions League place. Not only that, the Gunners had the sixth best assist per 90 (0.97), completed the fourth most key passes (425), had the joint eight best goals per shots on target ratio (0.30) and had the fifth best npxG or non-penalty xG (54.0).
However, the Gunners also struggled defensively as their numbers wavered as compared to statistics from their 2020/21 season. They conceded more goals (48 [2021/22] – 39 [2020/21]) and had the sixth-best PSxG (Post Shot Expected Goals) (40.8 – 41.4). But the Gunners also managed to send their PSxG+/- (Post-Shot Expected Goals minus goals allowed) in the other direction with it moving to -6.2 as compared to the +6.4 it was during the 2020/21 season.
However, they also didn’t cut down on errors as they committed the seventh most errors leading to a shot (12 – 6) and committed the fourth-fewest fouls (425 – 412) but they improved on their successful pressure percentage (30.2% - 28.4%) going from 10th worst in 2020/21 to sixth best in 2021/22. Yet despite that, the North London side finished the season with just 1.82 Points per Match played.
Improvements they’ve made so far:
Having let Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang leave inside the space of six months, Arsenal were reportedly chasing after a striker this summer. Several targets were mooted but in the end, the Gunners signed Gabriel Jesus in a move that has shocked a few fans. The former Manchester City man enjoyed a decent spell at the Etihad but with the World Cup on the horizon, is looking for more regular game-time and Arsenal swooped him up.
So far, the Brazilian has been flying in pre-season and the early signs point to him not just dove-tailing well with Arsenal’s Hale End Academy stars but also adding that directness that the Gunners have been missing. He’s not their only new arrival with Oleksandr Zinchenko joining as well to provide back-up at not just left-back but also in midfield. Fabio Vieira and Marquinhos are two young stars that the club has high hopes for but William Saliba’s return from the loan could prove to be crucial.
That’s provided the Frenchman stays beyond deadline day, especially after his exceptional loan spell at Marseille that saw him win the Ligue 1’s Young Player of the Year last term. All in all, Arsenal have made moves that could just push them over the line but with Chelsea and Tottenham doing the same as well, the question is what more do they need?
How well could Arsenal do in the 2022/23 Premier League season?
The promise and hope that Arsenal offered last season came out of absolutely nothing especially when you consider the fact that the bookies, critics and everyone else barely gave them a chance of finishing in any European spot. But last season Arsenal promised so much towards the end before falling apart which makes one wonder whether the Gunners have another top-four battle in them while also playing the notoriously tough-on-teams Europa League. If the North Londoners can somehow find enough depth to fight there and play up to their mark in the league, then a top-four race won’t be out of the question.
For Arsenal to get the spot though, they would need Tottenham and/or Chelsea (depending on the rest) to go through some really tough times or simply fall apart. That, beyond anything miraculous, is their ceiling alongside a trophy because having spent nearly £300 million over two summers, it’s high time the club have something tangible to show for it. But their floor could be a sixth place finish although once again that does depend on how well Manchester United and/or West Ham United do.