Arsenal finished fifth in the Premier League last season and lost the Europa League final to Chelsea. Their goal for the campaign had been to qualify for the Champions League, however, the Gunners just missed out on both fronts. That means their main objective for the coming season is again a Champions League return. Here is your Arsenal season preview.
Arsenal 2019/20 Season Preview
After seeing long-serving manager Arsene Wenger step down, last season was a year of transition for Arsenal. Unai Emery joined as head coach, not manager, and the executive structure got a facelift.
Instead of a traditional model where the manager works closely with one executive, as had been the case since the days of Davey Dein and Wenger, the club moved to a continental model with an executive team leading the club.
It is on this front in which Arsenal changed the most last season. In August, the executive team consisted of Ivan Gazidis, Raul Sanllehi and Sven Mislintat. However, one year on, only Sanllehi remains at the club.
Gazidis jumped ship for AC Milan and Mislintat resigned due to differences in opinion about the direction of the club. This forced Arsenal to appoint Vinai Venkatesham as commercial director and eventually bring in Edu Gaspar as technical director.
This tumultuous change was reflected somewhat on the pitch. Arsenal were simply inconsistent in the Premier League. A 14-match unbeaten run in the league early in the campaign clashed with a late-season run in which they only won two of their final seven matches.
This extreme inconsistency saw them drop from third to fifth in the league to miss out on a Champions League place. Thie Europa League campaign was not much different. While Arsenal won five consecutive matches on the way to Baku, they didn’t show up at all in the final, losing 4-1 to Chelsea and losing another chance at Champions League football.
Player to Watch
Arsenal are one of, if not the, most inconsistent sides in England right now. Appropriately, their player to watch is coming off of a very inconsistent season; Mesut Ozil.
The German playmaker is the Gunner’s highest-paid player but was absent from the squad for large stretches of last season. At times when he was involved, Ozil simply did not perform, or at least not to the degree expected of such a player. That lead to widespread criticism of Mesut Ozil.
However, as his display against Leicester City in October of last year proves, Ozil is still capable of special moments. With Arsenal entering the season with a largely unchanged squad, they will need much more consistent production from the players who are already there, especially Mesut Ozil.
While preseason doesn’t prove anything, Ozil did look sharp on Arsenal’s America tour. The midfielder made a habit of being in the right place at the right time, was tidy in possession and was even seen tracking back to defend at times.
Arsenal will need Mesut Ozil to bring this form and motivation into the league season in order for the Gunners to return to the Champions League.
The Spaniard is entering his second season as Arsenal boss. His first was a success of sorts; Emery earned Arsenal more league points and progressed further in the Europa League than Arsene Wenger managed in his final season.
However, dropping two places in the final weeks of the season followed by a gutless loss in Baku left a sour taste in the mouths of everyone around the club. Unai Emery will need to make sure nothing similar happens this season.
On the one hand, with such an unchanged squad it is difficult to think results would improve greatly. However, on the other, Emery has had a full season to study his players and should be better prepared for the challenge this time around.
Unai Emery is rumoured to have a two-year contract at Arsenal with a club option for a third. If Emery is going to get that third, he will need a return to the Champions League.
Arsenal Season Preview: Predicted Finish
Arsenal’s squad will be largely unchanged for next season. Gabriel Martinelli and Dani Ceballos have both joined, although the latter has only signed on loan. William Saliba, meanwhile, is being loaned back to Saint-Etienne for next season.
Although there are plenty of rumours about Kieran Tierney and Nicolas Pepe possibly signing, nothing is concrete on either front. As such, it is difficult to imagine that Arsenal will kick on and achieve a top-four finish unless their top-four rivals manage to drop points compared to last season.
Predicted Premier League Finish: 5th
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