A 5th place finish and a third FA Cup win in four years represents something of a good season. Despite having topped a difficult Champions League group they will however be disappointed with the manner in which they crashed out of the knockout stages against a vastly superior Bayern Munich. As the Premier League becomes more competitive the pressure to qualify for the Champions League intensifies. In context Arsenal fans won’t be all that happy, especially given the failure of the “Wenger Out” campaign. The one mainstay from Wenger’s legacy has finally ended, but Arsenal have actually improved in certain areas.
Arsenal scored more goals than last season but also conceded more, resulting in better goal difference. They got a couple of draws out of their system and won three more games and posted a 60% win rate. The only problem is that other teams improved more (notably Liverpool and Chelsea).
Last season’s top scorer Giroud almost equaled his tally despite playing around half the minutes and was overtaken by their player of the season Alexis Sanchez. Ozil improved his scoring output by a huge 25% but Theo Walcott outdid him by doubling his own previous tally.
Now the managerial farce has ended much will depend on the summer. They desperately need to hang on to Sanchez but everyone else feels expendable. He, Cech and Koscielny form a good spine but there is still a lack of leadership in midfield. That is the priority with Cazorla aging and injury prone and Coquelin obviously not up to the task. The left back position is below average but otherwise there is no need for massive change. They will however need to be able to rely on squad players given the mammoth number of games they’ll face in the Europa League. With the demands of fighting on five fronts and fan animosity I can see them slipping to a 6th place finish.
Good full backs are hard to come by but the availability and fitness of Luke Shaw must be of some intrigue to all Premier League manages. Other options include Bertrand, who may prefer Liverpool, or a swap deal involving Jenkinson joining West Ham and Cresswell heading to the Emirates.
The gaping hole in central midfield could be filled by someone with experience such as Nainggolan or a new star like Naby Keita. Franck Kessie has joined AC Milan, along with Rodriguez who would have been a good option at left back. Could the return of Jack Wilshere be the answer? Fitness will ultimately answer that.