One year at Arsenal under Josh, how have things gone? Enjoy the recap below and catch up with the journey so far here!: Episode 1, Episode 2, Episode 3, Episode 4, Episode 5, Episode 6, Episode 7, Episode 8, Episode 9, Episode 10, Episode 11.
My first season at Arsenal has come to a close, with the highlight being lifting the Europa League after a 5-0 drubbing of Villarreal in the final. It was certainly a rollercoaster ride and there’s plenty to discuss and look back on, so here we go!
The main objectives were to qualify for the Champions League, which we did, and reach the finals in both the FA Cup and the Europa League. We lifted the latter tournament but fell short in the FA Cup, losing to eventual winners West Brom.
Overall, I’m a tad disappointed with our performance in the Premier League. We could, and should, have finished higher but our displays in the back end of the season dipped significantly. There was a time when we were in the hunt for the title but Manchester United led for the majority of the campaign.
Life without Alexis & Ozil
The biggest part of this challenge was not being allowed to keep Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil, so I had to make the difficult decision to sell in the summer- and then keep the remainder of the squad happy, signing adequate replacements.
Nabil Fekir was very Ozil-like in his displays, being spectacular one week and then absent the next, but overall was a decent signing. Zivkovic, signed from Benfica and still just 21, was sensational though and looks to be the main man I can rely on going forward- which is why he’s just been rewarded with a new deal.
Zivkovic finished his debut campaign with eight goals and twelve assists in 46 appearances, with an average rating of 7.14, whilst Fekir boasted eight goals and 18 assists in his 49 appearances in all competitions.
Alexandre Lacazette was certainly the star of the season for me, finishing with an incredible 47 goals and five assists in 40 appearances. Sead Kolasinac was also impressive, with an average rating of 7.26, whilst Danny Welbeck proved to be a valuable asset as he finished the campaign with 17 goals and 16 assists.
I was also surprised to see Francis Coquelin become a key player for us in midfield, ousting Aaron Ramsey from the starting line-up, and there were signs that Jack Wilshere will be valuable going forward- enjoying a purple patch in the early stages of the season that kept Fekir out of the side.
I’ve been active behind the scenes snapping up talented youngsters, including Justin Kluivert who I signed last summer but allowed to remain at Ajax on-loan until the end of the season.
Nikolas Nartey, Francisco Trincao and Kuki are all teenagers who could be assets next season but I’m still to decide whether to utilise them in the side or send them on-loan. I’m also still trying to get the board to give me a feeder club so I can send players out into Europe.
All of the incoming youngsters have the potential ability to become stars in the coming years and the aim is to craft them into wonderkids. The same is the case for Kluivert but a decision needs to be made on how I handle their development.
I’m yet to get the expectations from the board for next season but I have started to set my own targets. In the Carabao Cup, the aforementioned youngsters will get their opportunity but I’m not too fussed with how we do in that competition.
The Premier League and Champions League will be our priority, so I intend for a better finish in the league. I’m not sure if we’re ready to win the title but I’d at least like to be in the running, whilst I’m aiming for the quarter-finals in Europe.
The FA Cup is a tournament we can win and I expect the board will want me to do exactly that, although I’m not sure what they’ll be after in the other competitions. Hopefully, they’re sensible with their expectations.