Let’s just for a moment say that Arsenal ended the 20/21 season with a fairly decent run in the Europa League that fell short at the semi-final stage and Arteta managed to end their Premier League campaign with a sixth-place finish. Then, let’s assume that the summer comes and goes with more departures than additions and Arteta has managed to shore up his midfield and central defence whilst making critical decisions on fringe players.
Clean slates then for the beginning of the season but now, in his second year in charge at Arsenal, Arteta can’t afford to see a repeat of this term’s failures during testing, floor to ceiling rebuild. There’s no doubt that there has to be some form of improvement and fans will expect that to be against not only the top six clubs but also the clubs regularly in mid-table or involved in the dogfight at the bottom.
No one expects Arsenal to compete with City after what has transpired since Wenger departed, closely followed by Emery, but what fans need is to build or renew their faith in the Arteta project and vision.
The Spaniard needs to move mountains to persuade the board to invest in one last push that could potentially put Arsenal back in contention, with a credible central defensive pairing and a midfield artist who can drive the side forward, particularly when games are tight and could go either way. That player won’t be cheap that’s for sure and there will be mounting speculation as soon as this season ends.
Arteta’s side will have to prove who they are by revealing their true identity and performing more consistently. They need to adopt a ruthless streak, become more clinical in front of goal, more astute when they are confronted by tough opposition, and become far more dominant in games.
When Arteta says Arsenal is a big job, he isn’t lying, it’s huge and incredibly difficult. The vultures circling overhead need to be mindful of the circumstances and that even if the minority got their way and the Spaniard departed, who would Arsenal find in a distinctly limited field to embrace the challenge of reinventing Arsenal with hardly any cash to spend.
There have been rumours that the owner is prepared to support his manager financially but much will depend on outgoings and monies generated from those sales. Kroenke isn’t about to just hand over the cash, he’s a hard-nosed businessman and with multiple sports ventures which have been severely impacted by the pandemic. Kroenke will play a mean hand, feeling he has already shown a willingness to spend with little in return.
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I’m willing to bet that Arsenal will fast-track a number of their prized assets from the academy into the first-team as a result of limited finances. Whatever way the wind blows, Mikel Arteta needs a solid campaign next season, not by winning everything in sight but by establishing his Arsenal side, one that could, in time, challenge in all the cups and for the Premier League.
Arteta is at the beginning of a five-year project and one wouldn’t expect it to be less than that, let’s hope the board backs their man and that their man knows what he needs to do to get this wonderful club back to where it should be.