A GOONER’S REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS FOR THE 2020/21 SEASON. by Funsho
Imagine if these were true commentary transcripts by Peter Drury and Jim Beglin as the mighty gunners won in a final: “Here come Arsenal, attacking again… Their fans are getting louder here. Everywhere is rocking… Now Xhaka has the ball, finds Ceballos, disguised turn by the Spaniard… here’s Saka along the left channel. He tries to switch play, but it’s a throw-in to the Gunners… Bellerin throws it to Aubameyang, great flick by the striker, finds Pepe in the process, brilliant nutmeg by the Ivorian… still Pepeeeeee! GOALLL! Arsenal take the lead sumptuously. Artist at work; his name is Nicolas Pepe! 113 seconds until the North Londoners win their first European silverware in the 21st century if they can hold on… YES, the final whistle! May 26th 2021-a day to remember in Arsenal’s history. Elation for Mikel Arteta as Arsenal win the…’ Will be beautiful, won’t it? And just so you know, I made that Final match’s date up!
Wait! Did you hear the commentators’ voices or see players in red and white as you read the ‘transcripts’? You’re fine, if you didn’t! But whether or not you followed with your imagination, qualifying for the champions league is likely your utmost desire for your beloved team, and a small peptalk to one of the players (maybe Pepe) about the 20/21 season could be: “Hey Nico buddy! Bonjour! It’s time to mix that finesse with even more end product this new season. Like more goals and assists! Cheers”.
Well! Well! Well! Make this an opinion post x-raying how Arsenal may realistically perform in Mikel Arteta’s first full season in charge, and the key word here is-REALISTIC. The author warns that you get ready for what’s coming cos this could be a bumpy ride.
Uhm, the 2020/21 season started this weekend with Arsenal not as ready as their head coach (no. strike that; manager) wants them to be. Doubt me? Ask him! The club have not bought all the proposed additions on the transfer list yet. Even though, the FA cup and Community shield wins seem to have unified the fanbase to some degree; make no mistake, this squad is still capable of hurting a gooner, especially those ones who think Gabriel is VVD, Ceballos is Iniesta, Lacazette is prime Ian Wright and maybe Leno is Neuer.
Think about it: the squad has 33 players instead of 25 cos there’s little interest in our transfer-listed players, only Willian and Gabriel have been added to the squad that finished 8th last season and despite all the good vibes and ITK info (like David Ornstein’s tweet), the skipper is yet to officially sign a new contract, or it’s not yet on the club’s official website.
In the midst of all these, you hope Arteta’s brilliance has not deceived the board into some unnecessary frugality with transfer funds. The board have a track record of lack of depth in thinking and planning as regards transfers, and I hope, unlike Wenger, Arteta won’t let it slide.
Of a truth, most top clubs are not spending much right now, but if we’re hoping to be where Liverpool are in 2-3 years, we need to buy what we need. You don’t have to spend £200m on Mbappe or £115m on Sancho at this time; just get the players MA wants by any and all means. If you argue about the global pandemic, this writer will cite examples like how Everton bought Doucoure, Allan and James Rodriguez all in this window (that’s a midfield overhaul; makes you wonder what Ancelotti thinks of Iwobi); Wolves broke their transfer record (£35m on that Fabio-kid from Porto); Newcastle just spent £20m on Callum Wilson and Aston Villa announced the £28m signing of Ollie Watson. Those are all ‘smaller clubs’, but then has the lack of income from matchday tickets depleted the transfer funds treasury at Ashburton Grove? Your guess is as good as mine.
In the club’s defence, the 3 signings so far make sense but do they improve the squad very much? Or does the addition of Gabriel (oh…and Saliba) improve the defence like van Dijk did to the Liverpool’s in 2018? Yes, in the long run, but in the here and now, the jury is out.
If the powers that be at Arsenal want Arteta to ‘do a Guardiola’, why not back him with necessary funds instead of penny pinching in negotiations for players like Partey and Aouar who’ll visibly improve the squad? Oh! And you’ll also hope that lessons have been learnt in the kinda contracts that Sokratis, Kolasinac, and the likes were given, cos the inability to sell them for decent money may force the club’s hands into selling more important players like Emi Martinez — a decision I hope Leno won’t make them regret. As a side note, MA, Inaki Cana and others will do well to coach the errors out of Leno and calmness into him cos “dude is like a keg of gunpowder.” Excellent shot stopper, but like Mustafi, a mistake waiting to happen. You can tell Emi is a talker and a calming influence behind the defenders.
On another note, pundits at BT Sport, Sky and especially ESPN often seem to underrate Arsenal when they make their season/match predictions, but with the aforementioned, it’s needless to argue against any unfavourable prediction here. A top four finish is the least you want, but except: Arteta works some magic, the away form improves, midfielders like Ceballos and Willian raise their game and score important goals, attackers like Pepe, Lacazette and Nketiah (and yeah, I didn’t forget that teenager too, but who’re we kidding — Martinelli is still in rehab for a surgical procedure) consistently add their goals to Auba’s, it’s hard to see Arsenal finishing above 5th in the League in the 2020/21 season.
In addition, the unravelling of Mikel Arteta’s philosophy in all its glory with certain players taking centre stage, new signings getting integrated successfully, youngsters progressing and the manager himself improving in such aspects as consistency in accuracy of substitutions, game management, and standing up for his players in the face of bad officiating in a Sir Alex-esque way is much desired.
MA isn’t messing around and the addition of Andreas Georgson, Carlos Questa and Miguel Molina makes his backroom staff even more robust. Hopeful of the whole crew getting more success in the big games, finding a solution to us taking initiative against the smaller teams and ultimately making it a Mikel Arteta era of success at Arsenal by acquiring conquest upon conquest.
Finally, a run into the latter stages in the cups culminating in at least one win will be nice. Most gooners will probably be fantasizing about the Europa League trophy here, and rightly so, cos it provides the fringe benefit of champions league qualification – the chief aim for the season.
This brings us back to where we started the article, so here are the concluding excerpts from Peter and Jim’s imaginary commentary transcripts, “…Arsenal win the Europa League. And what a goal to win it as Pepe beat the defender on the right, and released a curler to the far left corner. Excellent from Nicolas Pepe. 2-1 Arsenal… Congratulations to the Premier League club.”
Oh what glory! Oh what a story that will be! I have a dream! I see a sea of Arsenal fans after the Europa League final singing:
“We love you Arsenal, we do
We love you Arsenal, we do
We love you Arsenal, we do
Oh Arsenal we love you.”
Really appreciate you reading along,