Rating our season so far and the Europa League final. by Konstantin Mitov
Hello lovely Arsenal girls and boys! If there ever is a most important game in a season it’s definitely the next one. Figuratively and Literally speaking, the Europa League final will determine a lot about how we will look towards next year. This game would be Wengers’ dream – it grants a champions league spot and gives you an actual trophy, so better than fourth I guess?
Jokes aside (although there’s a bit of truth in every joke), winning the Europa League would be a great achievement. It’s not the trophy people care most about, but if we’re playing in it, we should be playing to win. Mourinho spoke about the importance of winning the Carling cup. To install a winning mentality in the players, to know what it’s like to lift a trophy above their heads.
Would this trophy be a giant paper over the cracks? If we win it and we do nothing in the summer it would be just that. Like going to the greatest brewery in the west, only to drink bottled Heineken. I mean, I like bottled Heineken, but you should definitely at least try something new.
We don’t have a big budget (SHOCKER)! This doesn’t mean we can’t be smart. Shipping out Xhaka and Mustafi would already be improving the squad. We need to invest what we can get from players shipped out and then we’ll get a budget good enough to start building something. But as Ajax and sadly – Spurs show, it’s not all about the money.
We need to bring in the right players in CB, CDM and a winger and then mix it up with a bit of youth prospects and try to be a modern Dortmund or a Monaco or Ajax. Being a Europa League team doesn’t fit with having a 350k player in Ozil. We’ve lost a ton of money from missing on the elite competition in Europe and we should clear out all the average players on huge wages we keep supporting.
When it comes to rating this season, we should do it regardless of the Europa League final. Cup competitions allow you to have a few good games and go far, not that I want to berate the Europa League, but it is incomparable to the Premier League. Could we have finished in the top 4? Hell yes! It was served on a plate. We’d be there if we had the form of the likes of Fulham with all my respect, in the last 5 rounds.
Emery made a huge mistake when he gambled the Crystal Palace game and we paid the price. I think this destroyed our confidence for the rest of the season. The fact that one loss makes us drop our head is a huge problem of it’s own, but bad managerial decisions cost us dearly. Our squad was more than capable of taking 10 points from our last 5 games, it just lacked mentality and crumbled under the pressure.
We beat Burnley away 3:1 with a squad mixed with second string players. Anyway, if you look at what failed us last season, and compared it to this one, there have been little improvements here and there. Our record against the top 6 is a bit better, despite not featuring an away win again. We got a few more away wins and a few more points, but overall, it doesn’t feel like something has changed dramatically.
We’ve conceded 51 goals. This is a terrible number. Out of the top half of the table only Man Utd and West Ham have conceded more. And the fact that Man Utd are a little worse than us should be no reason to feel good. Our away form is still shocking. Away against the big teams we missed golden chances to beat Chelsea, Tottenham and Man Utd, all of which we haven’t beaten in years now. We again had a stinker at Liverpool.
In the second half of the season we became predictable again, even though our formation changed almost every game. We crumbled mentally again and honestly even off the pitch, the fact that 2 out of the 3 people who were supposed to lead our change left and we promoted a guy from marketing, who nobody had heard of to the top of the food chain is worrying.
I can at best rate this season 4/10. I would’ve given it 6 or 7, had we gotten the top 4, but the way we crumbled was one thing too much that hasn’t changed. It’s incredibly disappointing that we hired a manager with the idea to sack the top 4 and just hope we make it back through the Europa League.
It is obvious in the way Unai speaks, he cares more about winning that trophy once more than he did about the top 4. It’s what built up his resume. Hopefully, this would play into our hands on May 29th otherwise our whole gamble would’ve been for nothing and this would be another year spent going backwards rather than forward.
The EL final is a bit shadowed by the incredible stupidity to allow only 6 thousands seats per team in a 60 thousand stadium that is some 2000+ miles away from the country that produced both finalists. This could and should’ve been handled so much better by UEFA, but I expect nothing better from them.
Worst thing is, we’re considering to drop Mikhi for the game, because of the political tension between Azerbaijan and Armenia. Not that he’ll be a starter, but he’s a player who can create something in the game, despite his poor form recently and surely would be a miss. He’s the closest thing to a winger in our squad.
Speaking of wingers, I’d love Zaha. What a player, but he’ll cost a lot and he wants champions league football, something we still cannot guarantee. Ryan Fraser seems more likely. Umtiti is being rumoured too, but I’m not sure if he’ll be the rock our defence needs. We need fighters for next year.
Before this though, we need to get the best of what we got and try to win this Europa League. Chelsea have won it before, but our manager has won it more times. We had to take the hard route there, now we need to make the final step. This stupid “I’d rather not win the Europa League, if Tottenham lose the CL final” is not how the real world works. We and they are there for a reason. The things are not connected and we need to see ourselves in the best way possible for next season. And there is no question here, winning the Europa League is the way to do it.