Arsenal bowed out of the running for the Top 4 race in a meek fashion.
We didn’t show up. The players were too nervous. They bottled the biggest night of their careers and I don’t think anyone left that field feeling good about what they offered up.
Newcastle were superb, we can’t deny that, they worked harder than us, and played like they were the team that had the Champions League on the line.
There can be no excuse. It wasn’t good enough. 5th will be our position this year and when all is said and done it’s about where we deserve to finish.
Mad as it sounds, it was probably best we tanked in that way. There are no doubts about where we lack quality, there are some players that Arteta will aggressively move out of the club this summer, and it is still absolutely clear where we need to add talent.
There are big shouts for our lack of movement in the January transfer window. It’s going to be hard to fight that narrative today, but I’m still calm about my view there… if you don’t think anyone can improve you, don’t just sign a body. Remember, we bid for the most expensive striker in Europe, our lack of movement was talent related, not because of ambition drain. My angst is less about what we did with our first team and more about what we missed with the squad we had.
There was a goalscorer within the ranks in Eddie. There was a capable 4th choice midfielder in Mo Elneny. Though hindsight is a wonderful thing, it’s difficult to believe William Saliba would have been a bad shout for our 3rd choice defender. Mikel Arteta’s season unravelled because he was too transactional with his squad. It’s a bug in his system. He only found ESR because of a covid outbreak. We only learned that Mo and Eddie would do a job because of injuries and shocking form. If you don’t trust players, you end up with an overburned squad, needless injuries, and squad players that don’t give a fuck.
Our season fell down because Thomas Partey, Tomiyasu, and Kieran Tierney can’t play 50 game seasons. If we’re honest, nor can Bukayo or ESR at the moment.
That still doesn’t account for the stage fright the team encountered yesterday, but we need to be very careful about calling time on the players or savaging their character. That’s lazy analysis. The likelihood is we’ll finish 1 point behind Spurs this season. 1 point isn’t the difference between shit character and elite mentality. It’s the difference between circumstances. Spurs has the best striking partnership in the league (world) and they have an average age of 29, they are both seasoned, they’ve never won a trophy, but they’ve been around long enough to understand the emotions around competing for things. Our striker hasn’t started 15 Premier League games this season, our other one stopped scoring goals.
Let’s talk about Spurs though, I will put it out there now; they are going to have a very fucking rough season next year.
- Harry Kane and Son will never have a season without injury like this again. Look at how shite they were against Burnely when they had to manage 3 games in a week. Champions League requires you play a first-team in every game from September. Older strikers can’t deal with that. Conte’s historical record will very clearly show he doesn’t manage European competition very well.
- Spurs don’t have massive money to spend this summer. If Conte gets Top 4, he is going to be a nightmare for Levy. There are no fuck-you-money cheques coming out of that part of North London. Remember, the worst season for Antonio at Chelsea was the one after he won the league and he made territory moves.
- Spurs will never get the luck they had this season. 3rd top scorer… own goal? Are you fucking kidding me?
They will be lucky to get 60 points this season. They took the sugar high of Conte, it might look like they are on the rise, but I assure you, it will come crashing down.
Now let’s talk about Arsenal.
Mikel Arteta is a ruthless operator and he will exact some big moves on his squad this summer. Cedric, Tavares, Xhaka, Pepe, and Mo could very well see the exit door. There might also be a more concerted effort to look at some painful realities: Both our fullbacks are extremely injury prone and so is our centre midfield maestro. We won 6 of 7 prior to the Partey injury… we totally fucked the top 4 after.
We hit our target this season. Europe is what the club planned for. 4th was the stretch goal, then it was the SURELY goal, now we are all in pain. But I’ve said all year, our feelings don’t change the target. We haven’t failed. If you are brutally honest, Champions League football for us next season might have been damaging to a squad that isn’t ready for multiple games a week. But… back to the plan. It is Top 4 next season, then it’s a title charge. Next season, there’s no flakiness from me on targets, I want top 4. He has had enough time, and he will have had enough money to take us to where we need to go.
Now let’s talk about the summer. It will be a blockbuster one again. The job to be done has never been clearer.
We need a proper striker that can run the lines, bully defenders, create an aerial threat, and score some fucking goals. I don’t want to see Gabriel Jesus, I want to see Tammy Abrahams or someone that lives in his world.
We need a proper centre midfielder that can compete with Thomas Partey. I want someone robust, that can lead, be a final ball merchant from deep, with the ability to offer us flex in the system.
There needs to be defensive considerations. Our fullbacks are brittle. KT has only been available for 57% of our Premier League games. That’s not good enough. Tomiyasu has only played 1600 Premier League minutes. It’s not good enough. Aaron Hicky, the Scottish 19 yr old that can play left or right-back feels smart. William Saliba, who can play right-back or CB is also a gift, he has 4000 minutes of experience, he is ready.
Then add another forward that can play across the frontline like Marcus Rashford or Gabriel Jesus if he’s cheaper than £60m.
The way this season ended has been painful. Arteta hasn’t managed the squad as well as he could have. Our players haven’t been as robust as we might have hoped. Inexperience has cost us.
… but we are still the hottest project in Europe for young players.
The boys could still finish on 69 points, which is exceptional considering the start, and the fact these chaps are part of the youngest squad in the league should not go unseen. These boys, despite the disappointment, will have learned a lot about themselves, even in failure (especially). They will get better.
Arteta tends to learn from his mistakes, he will be a better manager next season, and hopefully rectify the issues that have plagued him this season. He should hire more experience into the club, he should treat squad players better, and he needs to force the club to move fast this summer.
The fans are back on board. We haven’t been this united in 20 years. It hasn’t been this much fun for a very long time.
We were competing with 2 games to go, that feels painful because it went badly, but be real… no one expected this season to be this competitive. It has been a pleasant surprise even if the end game was very sad.
When the dust settled on 5th in the league, it won’t feel glorious, but it will be regarded as progress and a decent run in the first season of a new strategy.
Next season is about finding stability, improving weaknesses, and making sure top 4 is ours, and we’re in the Champions League.
Right, that’s me done. Listen to our podcast if you are brave enough. x