While many Arsenal fans will dream of being in the Premier League title race, perhaps a more realistic target for now would be a return to the Champions League. It’s now been six years since Arsenal last finished in the top four of the Premier League, claiming second in 2015/16 to finish runners-up to Leicester City.
Since then, Arsenal have finished fifth, sixth, fifth, eighth (twice) and fifth again, last season passing up their best opportunity to finish in the top four for some time. With just a handful of games left to play, Arsenal were in control of their Champions League destiny and going into their north London Derby against Tottenham, could have wrapped up a top four finish.
However, Arsenal lost that match in mid-May 3-0 and followed it up with a 2-0 defeat to Newcastle United, meaning their 5-1 thrashing of Everton on the final day was meaningless as they finished two points behind rivals Tottenham.
Arsenal have already started work in preparation for the new season, signing highly-rated midfielder Fabio Vieira and Brazilian winger Marquinhos as well as goalkeeper Matt Turner, with more business expected. But Arsenal still have a bit of work to do and aren’t among the odds-on favourites to finish in the top four as things stand.
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Last season saw Arsenal return to the top six for the first time in three years, having suffered back-to-back eighth-placed finishes in 2019/20 and 2020/21, and that’ll be the bare minimum their fans expect in 2022/23.
After a poor start to the season in which some were quick to tip them for a bottom-half finish, Arsenal recovered well and actually ended the campaign pretty comfortably in the top six. The Gunners were 13 points clear of seventh-placed West Ham and even held an 11-point gap over Manchester United in sixth.
But what if Arsenal fans are feeling optimistic about a shock title win?
There will be people starting university this September that won’t have been alive the last time Arsenal won the title, who have only heard of the glory passed down in stories by parents and older relatives. But that doesn’t mean they can’t hope.
As mentioned, Arsenal last went closest to winning the title in 2015/16 when they finished second, though they only leapfrogged rivals Tottenham on the final day of the season and finished 10 points behind Leicester.
Last season, Arsenal were 24 points behind title winners Man City, so it’s no surprise the Gunners are 50/1 with 888 Sport to take the crown in 2022/23.
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With Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang leaving in January and Alexandre Lacazette following him this summer, Arsenal don’t have an established goalscorer as things stand. The Gunners are being linked with strikers and a move is expected, but for now their main source of goals will be Eddie Nketiah.
Like Lacazette, Nketiah’s contract at Arsenal was up in the summer but the academy graduate has signed a new deal and ended the 2021/22 campaign in decent form, netting five goals in his final seven games in the Premier League. Given the legendary No.14 shirt at Arsenal, Nketiah is ready to achieve “something special” at the Emirates.
“I am just happy to finally get over the line, it has been a while pending. I am happy to be here and looking forward to the new season,” he told Arsenal Player.
“I have been at Arsenal most of my career, so you just have to consider the next steps and what they looked like. When the time was right and, I spoke to the manager, it was kind of an easy decision at the end I knew where my heart was all along.
“You want to have the backing of the manager and the players to go out there and do it again.
“It was an important run for us as well so to have that trust during that time and to also kind of repay him back with good performances and goals was amazing.
“(My ambitions) are to play as many games as possible, contribute as much as possible for the team and just develop, keep improving and help the team achieve their goals.
“That’s the target – to do well and achieve something special together.”