Arsenal have seen a massive overhaul of the squad in the past four years since Unai Emery’s first season through to Mikel Arteta’s continuing tenure of the club. Players have come and gone but the club remains in fifth, the position that Emery finished in after his first campaign.
Questions have therefore been asked about whether the club has progressed. Arsenal have ambitions to supposedly return to the elite level, fighting for titles and Champions Leagues however that appears still very far away.
The football.london Arsenal writers, therefore, have debated whether the club has indeed made progress in the last four years. Ensure to have your say on who you agree with in the comment section at the bottom of the article.
Bailey Keogh – Arsenal Fan Brands Writer
The Gunners have not seen an improvement since Unai Emery’s first season in charge in 2019. There has been no progression in the League position or any more advances in a European competition.
Towards the end of Emery’s first season, the Gunners were in with a chance of a top-four finish and had reached the Europa League final. The closest Arsenal have come to a final in Europe since then was during the 2020/2021 season when the north London side lost to Emery’s Villareal team. Without reaching another Europa League final since then, it highlights that Arsenal have not progressed on this side of the matter.
Emery’s Arsenal side missed out on Champions League football in 2019 after a disappointing fifth-place finish. Since then, The Gunners faced back-to-back eighth-place finishes, before a fifth-place finish at the end of this season. This once again highlights that Arsenal have not progressed domestically as the Gunners have not finished higher in the league table than Emery when he took over as manager.
Progression is proven by an improvement in results. Falling at the same hurdle year upon year does not show signs of progress. Arteta has certainly set up a better and more healthy system to progress, as there has been off-the-pitch improvements, but what matters is the results on the pitch.
Progression can be claimed when Arsenal achieve what Emery could not as the Gunners’ boss. For example, a finish in the top four would certainly be progression or being victorious in a European final.
Tom Canton – Arsenal Fan Brands Writer
For me, despite the league table position being the same now as it was when Unai Emery first finished his inaugural season, there are stark differences. Basing it purely on the number would mean ignoring so much context of where the club has gone.
For instance, when Emery finished fifth, it was a huge missed opportunity. The Spaniard rested players against Brighton and Crystal Palace, dropped points and finished one point behind fourth. Were it not for injuries to Thomas Partey, Kieran Tierney and Takehiro Tomiyasu, I am sure that three more points would have been earned in the final run-in.
The fifth under Emery was a place that preceded further decline. Evidenced by Arsenal being in the eleventh when Arteta finally took the reins after the now Villarreal boss was sacked. The two eighth-place finishes were frustrating and after the Europa League exit in 2021, I had huge doubts.
However, this season has shown the progress being made. The improvement in recruitment, the way Arsenal have played, keeping 13 clean sheets (the most since 2017/18), the atmosphere and connection with the fan base, the reduction in the overall age profile of the squad, competing in a top-four race whilst dramatically reducing the wage bill in preparation for new signings and renewing the contracts of the club’s best players.
This was a season that gives signs towards a continuation of the good work that doesn’t fall back to eighth but pushes forward to Champions League qualification. That is the expectation for next season and we have that ambition for next year due to the progress made in the past seasons.