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Arsenal: Young Gunners on the right track with Mikel Arteta despite missing out on Champions League spots

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LONDON — While the crowd roared to the last chant of North London Forever, one should have taken a moment to remind oneself that this was a season in which Arsenal did not achieve anything that one would expect from them.

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Indeed, given how the Premier League table looked 10 days ago, it’s perfectly reasonable to consider fifth place as a setback. Mikel Arteta’s team firmly held the Champions League football trophy in their hands. They overlooked that and all the goals they unleashed on Everton’s reserves couldn’t change that fact.

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Yet their season didn’t end with a whimper. There was no sign of the toxicity spewed out on social media, admittedly a bit of a gateway that releases the worst possible views on any topic since Monday’s loss to Newcastle. It was a game where the top four really slipped away. Instead, there was a collective belief that the end of the season could be the start of something better.

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For the first time since the departure of Arsene Wenger, Arsenal do not end the season with big existential problems. Their team is not crowded with players whose contributions do not match their salary. While they would like Bukayo Saka to be tied to longer and better terms, it’s not quite the same loudly ticking clock over his future as the previous mascot figures. As for the coach, he had just signed a new contract, which the club knew might not be the reward for finishing in the top four.

Instead, it’s clear what Champions League football cost them, a point that was scored when Eddie Nketiah scored the second of the Gunners’ five goals from close range. With this goal, he beat Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. , who has spent over £100m in transfer fees and years of six-figure weekly wages to become his team’s top scorer in the Premier League this season. Though centre-back Gabriel has as many goals as any of them, five to be exact.

Tottenham, a team that climbed to fourth place by one point, has two of the league’s top four scorers in Harry Kane (17) and Golden Boot winner Heung Min-sung (23). They want players who score goals. They plan to get them.

No wonder Arteta, still depressed from the disastrous defeat he started this week with, insists he “tried to squeeze every drop out of the lemon.” The failure to strengthen the starting line-up in January and reduce the depth of the line-up may have ended up giving this rookie head coach a challenge that those with much more experience can’t handle.

“I know, I think we all know – and you can see the reaction of the fans to the team – that you can see what we have on the field and what was on the field of this club ten or twenty years ago. back,” Arteta said. “We know where we need to go.

“Today I am very disappointed because we created the expectations that I wanted for this football club because it deserves it and we did not live up to it. The guilt and inability to reach that level is painful.”

Their fans wouldn’t let them wallow in this guilt. Led by Ashburton’s energetic army, a group of young fans from Clock End whose dedication to atmosphere has breathed life into the ground, Emirates Stadium has said goodbye to the 2021/22 season in style. “We have a super Mick Arteta,” they shouted before the start, the explosion of “Allez, Allez, Allez” resonated with the ground, when it had long been obvious that Tottenham had done their job at Norwich.

There is more than just results between the Arsenal loyalists and their players. In Sack, Emil Smith Rowe, Aaron Ramsdale and a dozen or more others, supporters see young people they can identify with. Long after the final whistle had blown, they continued to roar Sak on a well-deserved summer break.

“We tried to give the fans when we knew [Tottenham] result, everything they deserve for everything they have done for us and for how they have helped us move so much further as a club and as a team,” said the manager.

“They gave me a lot of reasons during the season and they showed [their support] with the way they appear, with the atmosphere they have created at home and away for these players. They can see what we do, what the players want, how they represent the club, the values ​​on and off the pitch, who we are as a group.

“Then we have the level that we have, and that is not enough. We have to give a clear assessment of this and how we will take the club to the next level. If we want it, we know what we must do. “

In fact, they should, of course. The right striker, top-notch midfielder partnered with a fully trained Thomas Partey could be something of a silver bullet that will give them an XI capable of staying on course in the top four race. The massive and largely successful rebuild of the Arteta team last summer suggests that manager, CTO Ed and their scouting department can be trusted to draw the right conclusions. But you must actually do it.

However, Arsenal at least know what they need to do to improve a team that finished the season with 69 points, enough for fourth place in the previous two campaigns, just one less than Spurs. This is a significant improvement over previous years.


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