With a FA Cup and a Community Shield already under Mikel Arteta’s belt, Arsenal came into the new Premier League season with high hopes. Arsene Wenger’s ‘Invincibles’ had turned into ‘Invisibles’ under Spanish coach Unai Emery.
A revamp was needed at the Emirates and Arteta’s reunion with the Gunners meant that Arsenal fans could dream again. Every fan had fantasies of red ribbons hanging on the Premier League trophy. Was Arsenal successful in reliving the glory days? Time to figure that out.
Arsenal’s first sniff at silverware came when they locked horns with reigning champions, Liverpool, in the Community Shield final. Fortunately for the Gunners, Arsenal managed to sneak in a victory on penalties lifting their first and only piece of silverware this season.
They kicked off the Premier League campaign in sublime fashion demolishing Fulham and West Ham. The first hurdle came when they faced the Foxes in the Carabao Cup and shockingly Brendan Rodger’s team were knocked out in the first round itself.
But Arsenal’s journey in the competition didn’t last long. Arteta’s pedagogue Pep Guardiola de-railed his ex-disciples team as Manchester City defeated them 4-1. The FA Cup holders were knocked out by Southampton in the 4th round of the competition as another trophyless campaign looked imminent.
The Gunners started impressively but lost track in the middle of the season. Arsenal started giving out three points for free to every other team in the Premier League. Once again the frustrated Arsenal fans wanted another manager to be sacked as #ArtetaOut started trending. The management at the Emirates showed faith in Arteta but results evaded the Gunners as Arsenal’s season and position started stumbling.
With the Premier League trophy inevitably landing in Manchester, the Europa League was the only hope of silverware. Arsenal’s run in the Europa League was nothing short of a roller-coaster. After being dismantled in the first leg in the most knockouts, they showed dominance in the reverse fixtures. But the ultimate challenge came against eventual winners Villarreal.
Unai Emery’s return to Emirates didn’t please the Arsenal fans as the Yellow Submarine efficiently defeated a depleted Arsenal team. Another trophy lost to fairly weaker opposition.
— Premier League (@premierleague) May 23, 2021
The shambolic Premier League season ended with Arsenal being in 8th position with no European competition in their bag.
Premier League- 8th
FA Cup- 4th Round
Carabao Cup- Quarter-final
Europa League- Semi-finals
BEST MOMENT OF THE SEASON
ARSENAL 1(5)- 1(4) LIVERPOOL (COMMUNITY SHIELD)
The Community Shield trophy was the only ray of light in Arsenal’s dark season. The whole world expected Klopp’s men to brush aside their rivals in white and red. The reigning champions of England were a difficult outfit to get past and Arteta’s man certainly lacked the quality to destroy Liverpool.
Grande equipo @arsenal
— Lucas Torreira #LT14 (@LTorreira34) August 29, 2020
Arsenal’s talisman, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang opened the scoring for the FA Cup holders in the 11th minute of the game. Klopp’s men created wave after wave of attacks but the front-three couldn’t finish off the chances. Arsenal eventually crumbled under the pressure as Liverpool’s new signing, Takumi Minamino equalising the score.
𝟮𝟬𝟮𝟬 𝗖𝗼𝗺𝗺𝘂𝗻𝗶𝘁𝘆 𝗦𝗵𝗶𝗲𝗹𝗱 𝘄𝗶𝗻𝗻𝗲𝗿𝘀: The Arsenal ✊ pic.twitter.com/yF9m2DyyJn
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) August 29, 2020
The match went into extra time and a hard-fought battle went to penalties where Arteta’s troops managed to outscore the Reds picking up their second trophy under the Spanish coach.
Rhian Brewster missed a crucial spot-kick for the Reds as Arsenal marched on to lift the trophy ecstatically.
WORST MOMENT OF THE SEASON
VILLARREAL 2-1 ARSENAL (UEFA EUROPA LEAGUE)
When a team of Arsenal’s quality finishes 8th in the Premier League there are plenty of bad moments to choose from. But one moment that was head and shoulders above the others was their disappointing loss against Unai Emery’s Villarreal.
Unai Emery, the villain at Emirates had turned into a hero at Villarreal. The Yellow Submarine crossed swords with the Gunners in an exciting semifinal game of the Europa League.
Arsenal was supposed to travel to Spain for the first leg which didn’t end well for Arteta’s army. Goals from Albiol and Trigueros meant Pepe’s penalty wasn’t enough as the Gunners were defeated in the first round of the battle.
Emery still had to visit the graveyard called ‘Emirates’. As the two teams prepared to battle it out once again, Emery must have had flashes of him coaching a disorganised Arsenal team.
Although Emery’s return to England was nothing beautiful, a goalless draw at the Emirates meant the revenge had finally been taken.
Villarreal progress, as we are eliminated at the semi-final stage.
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) May 6, 2021
Arteta’s troops looked short of ideas and lacked quality in the final third. The strikers were shooting the balls into the stands rather than into the goal. And a goalless draw was a true reflection of Arsenal’s situation.
The Gunners were knocked out of the tournament as the trophy cabinet just collected dust rather than silverware.
THE SEASON MVP
Peaks and valleys is a statement mirroring the situation at Emirates. The highest peak for the Gunners this season was 19-year-old left-back Bukayo Saka. A homegrown talent, Saka has found his way through the ranks of Arsenal. And oh boy! Isn’t this boy brilliant? Try asking the Chelsea defence. The UCL winners couldn’t get a hold of this youngster who ripped apart the experienced duo of Cesar Azpilicueta and Thiago Silva.
With the enthralling pace and steaming runs into the opposition’s box, this boy can do wonders with the ball in his feet. Arteta experimented with the teenager in quite a few positions and Saka was cool as ice where he was placed.
— Bukayo Saka (@BukayoSaka87) June 1, 2021
Covering every inch of the field, rarely misplacing passes, strongly defending his opposite number, and scoring crucial goals he justifies the term MVP. The English international also found his place in Gareth Southgate’s Euro 2020 squad owing to the five glorious goals he netted for the Gunners.
The fulcrum of Arsenal’s attack, the leading man behind Gunner’s massive wins for the past few years, Pierre Emerick Aubameyang had an utterly disheartening campaign. Arsenal’s most dynamic striker failed to leave his magic on the pitch as the duo of Lacazette and Aubameyang rarely ‘shook hands’ throughout the season. Last season the Gabonese showed blistering pace and precise finishing to net an astonishing 22 goals.
— AUBA⚡️ (@Auba) February 18, 2021
Auba went from just failing to capture the golden boot last season to netting just 10 goals this season. The thunderous strikes, the beautiful skills, the hold-up play, and the wide-smile was all missing at the Emirates. The sudden dip in form meant Arteta lost faith in the striker midway through the season. Constantly being benched, Aubameyang’s only highlight this season was his new hairstyle.
We know this is Not enough but we keep believing and working Hard that’s it 😤 pic.twitter.com/THVKKuumJF
— AUBA⚡️ (@Auba) December 16, 2020
The towering man was lazy in front of the goal missing tap-ins and constantly finding himself in an offside position. A disappointing end to the campaign meant that Auba had to apologise to the Arsenal fans. Hopefully, this campaign was just a hiccup for the striker as the Premier League surely missed his world-class goals and enthralling celebrations.
Arsenal fans would have surely screamed “Finally’’ after the season came to a close. With Arteta’s army demolishing Klopp’s boys in the first match it felt like Emirates could witness a turnaround. But unfortunately, Arsenal failed to hit the right spot. The North-London team once again failed to reach their full potential and their car drastically broke down in the middle of the road. With Arteta under the scanner, Arsenal will have to produce magic next campaign otherwise the dreams could take time to turn into reality.