At the end of a draining domestic campaign for Unai Emery and his players there will be a feeling of missed opportunity as they lose out on automatic Champions League qualification by just a single point to local rivals Tottenham Hotspur.
The fans will now be counting on Europa League victory in Baku to make Europe’s elite competition next season in order to attract the best players around the continent and avoid the struggles of away days in freezing temperatures of eastern Europe.
But first, it is only right that I judge the performances of the players in the Premier League that has caused this predicament.
Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette
Back in 2016, when Arsenal were in desperate need for a world class striker to take them to the title, not for a second did I think they would have two come their way in the next 2 years. With 67 goals and assists between them this season it’s phenomenal to see how well they have done without an out and out winger in the squad available and inconsistent performances from attacking midfielders. The two complement each other so well on and off the pitch with Instagram stories full of banter as well as the jubilant celebrations after each victory bringing fans closer to their players. Arsenal should do all they can to tie them down on new contracts with interest growing from the Spanish giants !
It took him some time to settle in England and with a rotating back four in front it was difficult for him to pick up some form due to no clean sheets after the first two months in the Premier League. The changing point for Leno was the defeat against Man City in February. Arsenal may have lost but Leno stood up to the challenge of facing a potent City strike force. Making 9 saves in the game gave him the confidence to pull out blinding saves as shown by the double reaction save in the north London derby at Wembley Stadium. Ending the season with 7 clean sheets and 105 saves it will be a season of settling in for the German as he looks to maintain the no.1 spot for the seasons to come.
There was a sense of promise that Shkodran Mustafi’s fortunes had turned at the start of the season and the casual errors were a thing of the past. 9 months later and most Arsenal fans are pulling out their hair seeing the German defend as it has become quite the occurrence that his lack of intelligence has cost their team dozens of times since his arrival in 2016. It is only right that Arsenal look to move him on in the summer with AC Milan seeming to be interested in the £20m rated defender.
It is hard to see which club got the better deal out of the Alexis Sanchez and Henrikh Mkhitaryan swap deal. Both have not lived up to the promise of fans and it is concerning due to the lack of quality produced whilst being on extortionate wages. Early March was arguably the Armenian’s greatest spell of form at the club with strong performances against Spurs, Bournemouth and Southampton however this has been the problem from the start as he fades away after encouraging displays. Mkhitaryan lacks physicality and that has been his downfall in the Premier League, where it is much tougher to play your own game compared to leagues like the Bundesliga. Arsenal have to get his name off the wage bill if they are going to search for better talent to suit their needs.