Naturally, we are all a little sad at the end of the season. Arsenal fans will feel differently, however.
The past eight months have been memorable for all the wrong reasons, as the Gunners ended the campaign without a trophy and are without European football next season for the first time in 26 years.
A strong end to the league campaign saw Arsenal finish just six points from a Champions League spot, but next season will be their fifth in a row without being in Europe’s premier club competition and any hope of returning feels as far away as ever.
They couldn’t even make it into the Premier Europa Conference League – their rivals Tottenham propelling them to seventh – although many Gooners aren’t too cut off about not being in a competition that has a somewhat degrading feel.
No Europe is a huge disappointment for talkSPORT’s Perry Groves, but he believes it may create new opportunities for his former team.
“From Mikel Arteta’s perspective, having this week to prepare for matches and not having to play on a Thursday, he no longer has any excuse for Arsenal not to be in the top four,” said Groves at talkSPORT.com.
“When Leicester won the title they didn’t have any European games, Chelsea under Antonio Conte were exactly the same.”
With this extra free time, Arteta has a chance to implement his ideas on the players. Groves believes that some have not yet fully mastered the managerial methods.
“Arteta wants to play from behind but Bernd Leno has to be faster,” said Groves.
“On goal kicks the middle halves split up and right now Leno is taking too long to move the ball and come into play.
“We also have to be brave enough to play the ball fast so we can ping it to midfielders and they can get it back on the turn.
There is also a lot of work to do at the Emirates Stadium from here to the point when the first ball is kicked in the 2021/22 Premier League season.
This transfer window may not see the usual mega fees on spent players, but Groves expects a lot of movement at Arsenal.
He has selected eight players who could be sent packaged, many of them from sales that can generate funds to make the signings they need.
Potential Arsenal departures this summer
Groves wants Arteta to form a squad filled with young and hungry players and believes a right-back, center-back, attacking midfielder and waiting midfielder must come in.
The Gunners have been linked with Norwich right-back Max Aarons and Groves would love to see him join Arsenal. Failing that, they should go after Tariq Lamptey, who has performed very well at Brighton since arriving from Chelsea.
At center-back, Groves says Arsenal should go after Lamptey Seagulls teammate Ben White, who is in the running to play for England at Euro 2020.
There are also options across Europe including Edmond Tapsoba from Bayer Leverkusen or Jules Kounde from Seville.
Groves also called on Arsenal to pursue alleged target Yves Bissouma, the Brighton midfielder who has also reportedly sparked interest from Liverpool.
Meanwhile, he would like to see Norwich’s Emi Buendia or Lyon star Houssem Aouar walk through the door with the two players strongly linked to Arsenal.
It’s not just about getting those shiny new toys, Arteta needs to do more to get the most out of their current players who haven’t been at their best – namely Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, says Groves.
The Arsenal star striker, who signed a long-term contract last summer, has only scored ten league goals in 2020/21. Low numbers by his standards as his previous two full seasons have seen him score 22 times in the league.
He has had a few injuries and illnesses – he even caught malaria while in international service, but there were also question marks surrounding his engagement.
Aubameyang was left out of the home XI against Tottenham after showing up late in the morning of the game.
But Groves believes Arteta should get more from his captain, and the Spaniard could also learn from Thomas Tuchel, who is currently celebrating his Champions League win with Chelsea.
“One of the things Arteta has to do is make the most of Aubameyang,” Groves added.
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“If you look at Thomas Tuchel at Chelsea, his men management skills are great. He brought back Marcos Alonso and Antonio Rudiger, ostracized by Frank Lampard, back to the side.
“The young players should adhere to Arteta’s methods, but the senior players have to agree. Dropping your star man and making an example of him can be counterproductive as Aubameyang is the main man in the locker room.
“When he plays you can see the frustration because Arteta wants everyone to come back behind the ball and work for the team.
“He’s defending 15 yards outside the penalty area and he’ll think he’ll be too far off goal when Arsenal get the ball back.
“When I played under George Graham, if you were a second striker you had to close their four full-backs and if they passed you you had to follow them, but when I got to the halfway area I got to was allowed to basically rest. As long as you work to close them in their bottom third and in their half, fine.
“I want to see Aubameyang work but I don’t want to see him run 50/60 meters back. He will kick himself and also when we get the ball he will be too far from the goal.
Chelsea becoming European champions for the second time has been the last straw for many Arsenal fans in what has been one of the worst seasons the North London side have had in recent times.
If there wasn’t enough incentive to return to the Champions League, the risk of losing London’s biggest club will surely put Arteta and co back into action.
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