What does success for Arsenal look like this season?

Exciting times ahead?

It is a more complicated question than it first appears. At least the answer is. It is easy to give a glib response that success is winning the Premier League, but expectations have to be tempered with realism. That would also suggest that a season that doesn’t end with the title being lifted has not been a success, which blatantly is just not true. So, I’ll ask it again, what does success for Arsenal look like this season?

There is no doubt that things are looking up compared where we were five years ago, three years ago, even 12 months ago. There have been false dawns before, of course, but after a period in the wilderness – the second place in the 2015-16 season (acknowledged as being the weakest league for a long time) being the one league bright spot in recent years– fans can be forgiven for starting to dream. This season has started encouragingly so it could really could be a time to build momentum as opposed to rue another false start.

One note of caution, however, is that the rest of the league has not sat about idle while Arsenal attempted to get their house in order. The Premier League best odds have Arsenal behind Manchester City, Liverpool, Tottenham and Chelsea to win the title. That puts them outside the Champions League positions.

For this season, it does look like top spot is one step too far for a Gunners’ side that is still finding its feet and identity. Liverpool have improved marginally on last season, but it does look like there are four, perhaps five, teams that are in the chasing pack behind City, and each one of those will see the top four as the minimum requirement this season, but also as a success. Suddenly the words of Wenger seem more and more astute, though the league has evolved in the years since he gave that comment.

Two of the key elements that will help to define if this season is a success have already been mentioned. Identity is a word that is bandied about far too often in the modern game, but it is very relevant here. For far too long it looked like there were so many disparate factions of the club, the squad and the team. This was largely down to the constant flux of management and the direction they wanted to take the club, and the style they wanted to employ in order to achieve that. At long last, that seems to have been righted. Arteta knows what he wants from his squad, knows what is and was lacking and most importantly appears to have actually done something about it. Arsenal have an identifiable way of playing, something all the players can buy into. That may seem the most obvious ingredient for success, but it has been something sadly lacking from the club for far too long.

The other element is momentum. If the fans (and board for the matter) can see progress, can see evidence that the club, the squad and the team are moving in the right direction, then suddenly everyone becomes a lot more understanding. Patience is not something that comes in spades in the top tiers of football, but even that would abound if the club were seen to be building towards something, taking incremental steps towards a common goal.

If all of those things happen, then there will not be many Arsenal fans who are unhappy come May. The icing on the cake will be finishing above Spurs and picking up some silverware, including the Europa League which suddenly seems to have lost its tinpot tag.

 

30 Comments

  1. Nketiah.

    Smith. Fabio. Marquinhos/Neto??

    Lokonga. Elneny.

    Tierney. Holding. White. Cedric.

    Turner.

    I would like to see how well these players above would perform when given the proper chance to do so.

  2. I bet Kroenke expects an EPL or EL trophy, because he’s spent a lot of money and time to rebuild the club

    I personally expect at least a top four finish or EL trophy, since the competition in EPL is the toughest I’ve ever seen

  3. We have a fair chance. Looking the other teams they are going through a fair few changes.

    City, lost jesus and sterling two key players. Especially sterling who imho is one of the best in the league. Yes they have haaland but he is settling in and is injury prone.

    Liverpool. Mane is a big loss, they have replaced him with darwin nunez. This means a change in footballing style as its a striker for a winger and again he needs ti settle in. They also look like having a few injury problems.

    Chelsea, I think the cracks will show with Chelsea this season. I personally dint rate their manager and feel like it is a disjointed team. So much talent but not fluid imho. Sterling will need to settle but will perhaps take less time than haaland and nunez being used the the prem.

    Spurs. Look good look stron but when do they ever challenge for the title. No change here.

    Arsenal. New recruits but two of the main guys know the manager and have a good idea of the system. Our system was missing a decent St and we now look like we have that and some extra.

    Do u think we will in the league. No when it comes to it I think City again due to numbers etc. Do I think we can finally turn up the pressure on city and Liverpool. Yes 100% and I think football fans will be shocked at how well we do this season

  4. Well, evidently there’s progress! Arsenal is topping the table after 3 games and they are playing well. Can they be consistent? How do we react to a loss?. How do we adjust to injuries to key players? If we can overcome all these, then at least we should make top 4 and probably win the Europa league.

  5. Success this season means qualifying for next season’s champions league imo.

    We’ve been out of this competition for too many years.

    Top 3 seems like a good target.

    Arsenal have made huge progress in the past two years and we will improve further this season. Definitely going the right direction!

  6. Was confident of 3rd but now sure we are going all the way.

    After 18 long years the title is ours again.

    Mike is going to build his own legacy at Arsenal. May he be the next Wenger.

      1. So far City have been the only team that look likely to win the title. Spurs have looked tough but i don’t think they can match city over a season. I think Liverpool will have an off season while they transition after losing mane.
        Utd are quite interesting – they’ll either kick on after that win yesterday, or regress again when they face less open teams. Chelsea will struggle a bit but should at least challenge for top 4.

        We’ve looked great but still have a bit to prove – our first really big game will be very interesting. I don’t think we’ll be pushovers this year

      2. Every team is in a competition to win it, we do have a chance , heck even westham in 20th have a chance! Let’s keep fighting no matter how minimal the chances are, end of it we know we did give our all.

  7. For me if it wasnt because of injuries last season we could have gone all the way to third but they are part of the game. So this season im very much optimistic on top 3 and europa league is within our reach.

  8. Simple really 4th place and or EL .. otherwise arteta goes .. people making ridiculously speculative calls after 3 games .. we have had and will continue to have an easy set of games .. so would expect 6 points from next 2 games .. it’s a great platform but October will be the telling month

  9. There are signs of progress but it is way too early to be excited. The EPL is very unpredictable and even teams that haven’t big money are looking to have more energy than those who have spent it.

    Those teams play with greater determination not only to try and win a match but also to frustrate the big money earners or try to get noticed.

    My greatest fear is inconsistency. With a midfielder who can compete with Partey and especially cover up for him when he is unfit, top 4 or better is very possible.

    We are only 3 games down the road. i think we could get something this term but I don’t know what it is. Injuries are harmful to progress. Let’s take it game by game

  10. I agree with the top four, trophy and identity comments. And will add one more – we have sent a lot if players out on loan including Patino, Flores, Norton-Cuffy and Balogun. If at least two come back PL ready for 23-24 that will be massive long term.

  11. Just finishing 4th on its own would be for me this season would be a let down. We should, after all the investment in time and money expect a proper title “challenge”, CL qualification and a cup success. Only finishing 4th is not success, we cant be hypocritical because we have spent years slagging spuds off for basically doing exactly that.

  12. If we can keep up with constitency then top 2 is sure with 2 trophy(EL/FA CUP) along with it then that is success

  13. Top 4 or EL win is a success. Got to a laugh at anyone claiming getting CL football would not be considered a success after the years we have spent out the competition.

    3rd should be the target and EL is a bonus because cup competitions are very random. Who knows maybe the stars align for a title challenge or a comfortable 2nd.

    Anyone speaking on backing should be aware the Arteta’s total spend on incomings since he took over work out a 20 mil more than the outgoings cost the previous managers. Depending on what we bring in once Pepe goes that could end up close to zero. Only players let go in that time that could of realistically had a long-term future were Guendouzi and at a push Mavropanos. Interestingly had we kept Guendouzi and released Elneny that figure would be near zero already as Elneny cost more than Guendouzi. It seems like he’s been back so heavily because it’s happened in such a condensed time period due to the poor balance and age profile of squad which was down to poor planning. Think of all the over 30’s and what they cost Mhki, Auba, Laca, Ozil, Mustafi, Sokratis, Luiz etc.

  14. Challenging for top 4 was last season objective, didn’t get top4 but we showed that our young team can fight with the other big 6 members for a top 4 place.

    This season the aim should be to close the gap to Man city and Liverpool. I dont expect us to jump from 69 pts to 90pts in one season but we need to cut that 24 pts gap in half so a good 78-80 pts should be a good target. A trophy would be nice but for me league progression is essential.

  15. I’d say nailing a CL spot AND celebrating st totteringham’s day is expected, it’d be great if they could win the EL and one or both domestic cups.

  16. Well written piece. I also agree with the thinking – progress is key, I just don’t understand people saying “top 4 or Arteta out”.

    Or maybe they just dont get how football works these days. Newcastle are now a big money club, but the new Financial Stability rules will do nothing to stop them spending if money is given to them (as gifts rather than as loans).

    I’d be disappointed if we didn’t achieve CL one way or another, but I wouldn’t necessarily be calling for anyone’s head. It depends on the circumstances – all of them.

    1. P.S. I agree re the wise words of Wenger on top 4 being a trophy. I thought he was right when he said it – I was amazed that so many people gave him a hard time over it back then.

      It stems from the sense of entitlement so many fans had – and some still do. There’s a life lesson that we all learn the hard way – the way to avoid disappointment is to manage your expectations, if possible avoid them altogether.

  17. BTW a couple of things have been overtaken in the article’s facts. We are now 3rd favourite with the bookies at 11/1 for the title.

    However, these are not “real” odds, they’re just the outcomes bookies happen to want to take money on at the moment to ensure that “the house always wins”. I feel sorry for people who bet with bookies, they don’t realise this simple fact.

    This is probably based on Liverpool and Chelsea stumbling, although I think Liverpool have faced 2 teams who were fired up to play above themselves – Man Utd won with 30% possession at home and they won’t be keeping that up for another 40-50 games through the season.

    1. IDKWIC, after reading your regular posts I am bound to ask if NOW, you DO care? I reckon you care a great deal, just like us all.

      1. Well, if you read the name as it says on the tin, it says basically “I care, but I don’t know why”.

        I was converted from someone who loathed Arsenal in the “one-nil to the Arsenal” days by Wenger’s style of play – and by the fact that he succeeded with it (many have tried playing attacking football, but most of them come a cropper against the defensive teams).

        That’s why I was also impressed by Arigo Saachi at Milan, although they accumulated a lot of big players there.

        Once Wenger left, I wasn’t really sure I’d have any reason to care any more, especially if they went back to the old ways. But… here I am 🙂

        I have a bit of time on my hands at the moment though – that won’t last forever.

  18. My idea of a successful season?
    Firstly finishing with a minimum of 80 points. That should give us top 3 at minimum. Winning the FA cup or Europa Cup.
    Ideally, this is my target:
    Finishing with up to 88 points. Loosing 5 times and drawing 6 times should give us something close to that. With the way the season is looking like, 88 points could get us finishing at least second. And then winning domestic double or the Europa.
    I can dream right? It doesn’t change the fact that many factors that come to play as the season progresses can change our minimum target.

  19. With alot of games ahead to play this season, arsenal need to complete their business perfectly, by bring in first class Midfielder and winger someone that can take over from partey and Saka, and Saka looks tire towards the ending of last season which is still affecting him, so he needs to rebuild his energy, so arsenal need someone we will look at our bench and we see no difference from the first team like Manchester city

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