Arsenal stumbled down the stretch thanks to a bevvy of issues.
Inexperience, injury, a lack of poise, and plain old mistakes caught this team out at points, and even one more victory against the likes of Crystal Palace, Southampton, Brighton, or Newcastle United would have seen this team reach the Champions League in a season where no one believed that was possible.
Meanwhile, if everyone is being realistic, fifth place was seen at the start of the season as a massive stretch too, and this team has overachieved to that end. Is it disappointing not to be in the UCL next year? Absolutely, and this team could’ve attracted some bigger names with that berth – maybe – but getting into the Europa League is perhaps a better stepping stone for this club to take on its way back to glory.
With Arsenal’s 2021/22 season over – after soundly thrashing a disinterested Everton squad on Sunday afternoon – summer transfer targets can begin to crystalize, pictures and plans will take shape, and budgets begin to become more applicable to innovation than during the season.
The Gunners have succeeded in so many ways that they deserve great praise, even as we all mourne their inability to get into the UCL. This team has many, many more years to succeed in that respect, to be sure.
Arsenal: A season Of ups and downs, but Europe exists next year
This season has been brilliant for this team, but at many points in the season, it appeared as though things might come unglued at any moment. Losing skids to start the season, as well in April and the two matches before this final game against Everton put the Gunners in the position they found themselves in today.
But it’s good that this young team has learnt this lesson now instead of further down the line. They will parlay this pain into greater power in the seasons to come, this much feels assured.
Nevertheless, Mikel Arteta will undoubtedly rue a huge opportunity to get ahead of schedule and qualify for Europe’s premier club competition. The boss is a perfectionist, and perfection is entirely illusory, but it’s the best motivation a person can have so long as it doesn’t eat away at a person’s very being. Arteta and Arsenal will be back, better than ever next season, and they’ll boast a squad that will frighten many more teams than it has this year. Whoever comes to the Emirates will be facing a maturing side buoyed by a unified home crowd.
The Gunners should be considered an early favourite for the Europa League crown next year, and with growth this summer, that will grow more obvious to any sceptical observers. Arsenal are coming out of a period where people could mock and jeer as the once great side – like a fallen Goliath – fell and was picked off by clubs that once stood no chance against it. There is a lot to look forward to for Gooners, and while Spurs edged out their fiercest rivals this time around, their squad has been built and designed to do precisely that.
The Gunners are currently building that squad, and the fact they only lost out to Spurs because of a few missed opportunities speaks volumes over how impressive Arsenal have been (not all the time, admittedly) this season. Spurs can laugh now, but the Gunners are hot on their tails.
Arsenal finished this season with a bang after kicking off in dire fashion. This was not a perfect campaign, far from it, but there have been obvious signs of progress. The club is now very well positioned to enter the next phase of Mikel Arteta’s project.