Champions League places a possibility for Arsenal
- Credit: PA
Arsenal kick off the 2021/22 Premier League season against Brentford on Friday night, looking to build upon an eighth-placed finish last campaign.
It was a season of two halves for the Gunners last time around as after 14 games they sat down in 15th place, looking out of ideas and struggling to score.
But a shock 3-1 win over Chelsea on Boxing Day propelled them to be the second best team over the final 24 games.
In that second period of the season, Mikel Arteta found his blueprint, and this is what he and Arsenal should follow for the coming season.
It involved a shift to a 4-2-3-1 formation with Thomas Partey anchoring the midfield and three fluid, energetic players behind the striker to allow for swift interchange up top.
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Academy graduates Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe stepped up last season, bringing energy which inspired the whole team.
They offered direct dribbling, swift passing and running in behind, whilst also leading the press off the ball, all traits Arsenal will be relying on once again.
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Saka is coming off a superb summer, reaching the final of the European Championships with England, playing an integral role in their run before having his crucial final penalty saved in the shoot-out against Italy.
The same bravery that saw Saka step up in that defining moment is the same bravery which will help him push on and be a force for Arsenal again this season.
Smith Rowe has been rewarded with a new five-year deal and the number 10 shirt for his impressive contribution last season, whilst Kieran Tierney has also signed a new long-term deal, showing that Arsenal’s key players are committing to Arteta’s project.
Arsenal’s summer signings thus far have all followed a coherent strategy, to build a younger, more physical team.
Ben White, Albert Sambi Lokonga and Nuno Tavares all help to fill needs in the squad and will only get better over the coming years.
Whilst it may be a stretch for Arsenal to compete with the financial power of Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea, this coming season is a good chance for the Gunners to return to competing for the Champions League places.