That was absolutely unacceptable. The biggest game of the season for Arsenal and to perform as though you’re the side with nothing to play for borders on unforgivable.
Mikel Arteta said that he couldn’t defend his players. Granit Xhaka said that the Arsenal players didn’t listen to what the game plan was. Why? It is a simple question but one I doubt we will get an answer to.
I began the season thinking a top-four challenge was a wild fairy-tale considering the squad at our disposal and the challenge posed by other sides in the league. So you might think that finishing in fifth having had the chance to finish in the top four just two wins away as a good season.
And in all honestly, in reflection, I might see it like that. But right now, all I feel is pain and disappointment because I am so hopelessly let down by that team of players.
What the ramifications of this might be for the summer is unknown. Youri Tielemans, a strongly linked midfield, supposedly required Champions League football to consider a move. The likes of Paulo Dybala and Darwin Nunez have seen similar suggestions brought public about their futures.
Mikel Arteta and Edu have spoken about planning what it is they want to do but when you look at the squad the amount of work needed to allow for not only a top-four challenge next season, but a European campaign too is huge. The squad right now is miles off.
Certainly, injuries to players like Kieran Tierney and Thomas Partey have not helped, but perhaps January can be pointed to. Not solely about the lack of signings, but the players that were allowed to leave.
Calum Chambers, Pablo Mari, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Sead Kolasinac and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang all went. The former trio in particular could have been very helpful in replacing Tierney, Partey, Ben White and Takehiro Tomiyasu, who have all missed games in that time.
Aubameyang’s departure felt like a necessity with how Arteta described the situation, but not replacing a striker who has gone on to help Barcelona finish second after a poor start to the season with a bucket-load of goals goes beyond regretful. It borders on self-sabotage.
Arsenal have one more game that they must win and hope that already relegated Norwich City somehow beat Spurs. The likelihood will be represented in any betting odds you can find across the multitude of bookies.
A season filmed by Amazon detailing the Gunners’ season titled ‘All or Nothing’ appears to be ending the same as it did for Tottenham when they were featured. Europa League and nothing else.
Next season’s ambition is clear. Mikel Arteta must progress the side and qualify for the Champions League. Investment this summer is expected, and it must be done right.
The continuation of the recruitment project started in 2020 must be further refined and improved to secure top-quality additions. We’ve been promised a plan. Well, it better be good.