Arsenal limped timidly out of the Europa League having stolen an extra round after a succession of poor or extremely average performances. The Gunners’ season fell apart meekly after Villarreal held on to their first-leg advantage to dismiss Arsenal, who simply didn’t deserve a place in the final against Manchester United on the 26th of May in Gdańsk.
Arsenal’s regrettable and forgettable season was over in 90 minutes and included a first-half knockabout, the likes of which you could see in any local park on any given weekend. It was played exactly in that vein, seemingly without any consequences and with nothing a stake, but this isn’t something new, this is a familiar trait that has made Arteta’s men easy to conquer.
They ooze vulnerability and lack genuine class and spirit and it’s become evident that Arteta’s pledge to win the Champions League within three years was a misplaced fantasy with Arsenal preparing for a season without European football.
Villarreal progress, as we are eliminated at the semi-final stage.
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) May 6, 2021
Arteta may be forced to reconsider the size of the project and how quickly it can realistically be achieved because on the evidence of this shit fest, the road is steep and the engine isn’t up to much. Arsenal knew that they only had to score one goal against Villarreal and their lack of intensity and purpose speaks volumes about this side and their dreadful campaign.
It was left to the youngsters to show desire, while their more experienced colleagues barely went through the gears in a must-win Europa League match that the Gunners frittered away. This side barely resembles the classic Arsenal, the one which used to attract lavish praise for its style and ability to entertain under Arsene Wenger during the first half of his reign.
Where Arsenal go from here is a mystery because they are so poor that there’s a mountain to climb to even reach a top-six position without a complete clear-out and substantial investment. Of course, it’s a low point in my career as a supporter and I’m struggling to recall anything that comes close.
There isn’t anything and believe me, I’ve tried to find some crumb of comfort since the defeat. I don’t care if we win or lose our remaining matches in the Premier League or nor do I care where we finish and I dare say, I’m not alone. I’m just honest enough to say it.
My enthusiasm has taken a massive dent having watched Arsenal plod their way through the majority of their games since the football Calendar resumed after Covid. In fact, it’s like Arsenal haven’t played a competitive match for two years and haven’t trained together for even longer. Arteta needs to rip this side apart from back to front and there would be few survivors in my opinion.
I’d prepare for life without Leno, Bellerin, Holding, Mari, Xhaka, Ceballos, Willian, Lacazette, Aubameyang, Nketiah, Nelson, Cedric, and Chambers, there’s probably more names to add to that list, but it shows the scale of the task ahead.
Arteta needs players that can dig deep, play rough, and are willing to scrap for every ball. He needs strikers that can take their opportunities and score on the big stage without making excuses or drifting into a cruise mode. He needs a cohesive and reliable defence in front of a solid goalkeeper and ahead of them, a competitive and hardworking midfield that can create chances and repel attacks.
More than that, he needs leaders and fighters because I didn’t see one at the Emirates on Thursday night against Villarreal after Arsenal capitulated to the club’s former head coach. I’ve said it before, I don’t mind losing if every player gives everything they’ve got during a contest, anything less is unacceptable. That’s exactly how one could describe this season, from the perspective of both manager and players.