There are 20 days until the end of the Premier League’s opening weekend, and that means it is time to dissect every team one-by-one, starting with Arsenal.
Arsenal Football Club
The Gunners were one of the most formidable opponents in Europe early in the 2000s but have lost their acclaim and prestige after nosediving in the post-Arsene Wenger era.
The North Londoners are coming off of their second consecutive eighth-place season finish, their lowest finishes since they were 12th in the 1994-95 season. They also failed to appear in the finals of any cup competitions despite winning the FA Cup in the 2019-20 season with a 2-1 win over Chelsea.
Arsenal is an unenviable position as a team and one that would not have been predicted for such a legendary club. The jury is still out on manager Mikel Arteta, a former midfielder for the Gunners, who have failed to bridge the gap between youth and experience and has instead created disharmony and unsurety for players at the club.
The team’s seemingly resolute defense that conceded the third-fewest goals in the Premier League was also more of a byproduct of Arteta’s slow, lethargic style that removed creativity and fluidity from high-stakes matches, with the occasional interjection of artistry from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
With that being said, the team’s captain was disappointed massively after signing a three-year deal worth around £55 million in the offseason prior, only netting 10 league goals after scoring 22 the season prior.
Arteta has also made a mess of the club’s transfers in his 19-month tenure at the club and is finally attempting to clear the deck by dealing out David Luiz, Matteo Guendouzi, and William Saliba, while Willian could also be on the chopping block.
Unfortunately for Arsenal, Martin Odegaard returned to Real Madrid and will no longer be with the club, following the completion of his loan. Emile Smith-Rowe and Odegaard formed an exciting pair in a young midfield, though the young Norwegian could demand upwards of £30 million for a permanent transfer.
With the club still feeling the effects of the global pandemic, Arsenal has failed to make any substantial acquisitions this summer; their marquee move was for a 21-year-old left-back who cost £8 million and has never played outside of Portugal. They have been linked to a £50 million move for Leicester City’s James Maddison, which would drastically change their fortunes, though the rumors have not gained any substantial traction.
The biggest challenge for Arsenal will be to show a proof of concept with their tactics and reunite their fans with the team; the club’s supporters were unhappy with the management of Arsene Wenger, who kept them in and around the top-four but are now starting to realize that they may have pushed him out too early.
Arsenal will start the season away from home against Premier League-newcomers Brentford before returning to the Emirates Stadium to take on reigning Champions League-winner Chelsea, who they defeated twice domestically last season, and then facing Manchester City on the road.
This season will be make-or-break for the legendary Londoners, who are on the verge of tarnishing or outright losing their club’s prestige and falling out of the same league as the other “Big Six” teams.
With inconsistent performances, a suboptimal squad, and an unproven manager, the Gunners have a long road ahead of them.