4 Positives from a dire season
By Charlie Maywood
The 2019/20 season has undoubtedly been very underwhelming and substandard for Arsenal Football Club, sitting in 9th place, out of the Europa League and going through 3 different managers. However, I thought I’d look at some of the brighter elements of our season, to bring some hope and optimism for the future in this period of doom and gloom.
The signing of Gabriel Martinelli
I’ll begin with Gabriel Martinelli, arguably out best summer signing given his age and price tag- the performances he has produced have been somewhat remarkable. He’s a huge prospect for the future.
Signing for just £6 million from Ituano in the summer is evidently a massive bargain and his tenacity and promising performances shown on multiple occasions this season have almost earnt back the measly fee we paid for him. His breakthrough game came in his first competitive start in a comfortable 5-0 win over Nottingham Forest in the Carabao Cup, where he excelled, scoring two superb goals.
From then on, his performances only improved and his work rate is commonly second to none, earning himself a Player of The Month award in the month of January along the way. Furthermore, the youthful duo of the Brazilian and Bukayo Saka appear to complement one another very well on the pitch which is a very promising sign for the future.
His versatility up top is also another magnificent attribute to his game, which is not only an important feature to have for a world class attacker but can also allow us to easily fill in positions in the case of injury and suspension with a more than capable player. His 10 goals and 4 assists in just 26 appearances at the age of 18 have brought some most welcome enthusiasm and hope for us.
Stand out performances
With just 9 wins in 28 league games this season, there has been very little success and joy for us but an outstanding 2-0 win at the home of football against rivals Manchester United was a pivotal turn in form for the Gunners under the new boss.
The win hardly reflected the bland form which we displayed prior to this match, where we demonstrated defensive compactness (which was a sign of things to come), and a dominant performance in all areas on the pitch, which was very hard to come by in any match throughout the season.
Alongside the United match, our 2-2 draw away at Chelsea is up there with one of our best results of the season, and although you wouldn’t normally associate a draw with a stand out performance of the season - which salty Chelsea fans endlessly pointed out on social media after the game- the manor and circumstances of the game puts it up there with one of the best. After being down to 10 men and a goal down inside 30 minutes, a typical Arsenal capitulation away from home against a top 6 side seemed imminent. However, a collective tenacity from all the players helped us come back into the game twice late on to earn us a hard fought point away at the library. This particular performance embodied the team spirit and courage which had vitally been reignited by new head coach Mikel Arteta.
Aubameyang and Leno’s excellence
It is clear that Aubameyang and Leno are two out of a small handful of players who can leave this season proud of themselves due to their overall performances. The Gabonese forwad has certainly been the Gunners talisman this season, scoring 20 goals in all competitions, with his 17 in the league seeing him trail just Vardy in the scoring charts. He has provided 42.5% of Arsenal’s goals in the league this season, evidently making it clear his indispensable role in the team is vital for us to succeed.
A lot of his goals have come from playing out on the left as well, displaying key versatility and selflessness to let partner Lacazette take his primary position up top. After being made captain due to unforeseen circumstances, he has flourished and has definitely done the armband proud. He is a clear leader who has a great relationship with the squad and is someone who the young players can most certainly look up to.
As for Leno, without him I’m convinced we’d be in something of a relegation battle. Although he has made a few costly errors, his incredible shot stopping has unquestionably made up for it, saving us multiple points over the course of the season. He is criminally underrated and is definitely in the top 3 keepers in the league.
Young, bright and progressive new coach
Overall, from a relatively dismal season there is a slight positive outlook which has come of it due to the appointment of our new head coach MIkel Arteta. It appears he has rekindled new life and positivity back into the squad and it is incredibly promising to watch, especially compared to the woeful football we had to endure towards the end of Emery’s reign.
It is evdient that he knows what he is doing in a tactical sense, despite his inexperience, helping to form a compact and well drilled defence already, evident from the 7 clean sheets in 13 games under his reign. Furthermore, his appointment has also seen us play a much more typical Arsenal footballing style- Arteta has implemented a possession based style which has the potential to recreate the beautiful offensive football we all want to see. I have no doubt that Mikel can take us back into the top 4 and possibly near the top again with the appropriate financial backing from the board, if he continues to display this type of revitalised football.