Arsenal failed to live up to standards that fans have had. Here’s a few reasons why the season panned out as such.
Arsene Wenger mentioned at the beginning of the season that his aim was to attain automatic qualification for the Champions League. But with only 12 matches left, Arsenal find themselves stagnant at sixth position in the Premier League and possibly losing out on a spot for Europe’s elite competition.
Needless to say, the title challenge has gone far beyond Arsenal’s reach. Here are five things which went wrong for Arsenal this season.
#1 Arsenal’s away form
The recent loss away to Swansea City goes to reflect how badly Arsenal’s form on the road has been this season.
Since the turn of the year, Arsenal have not won a match away from the Emirates. They saw themselves falling out of the FA Cup campaign after losing to Nottingham Forest, drew at Stamford Bridge during the first leg of the semi-final match against Chelsea in the Carabao Cup and suffered losses against Bournemouth and Swansea City.
On the other hand, Arsenal’s form at home has been their saving grace. Confident victories against Chelsea, Everton, Crystal Palace and many other clubs left Arsenal fans wondering, what exactly is the issue when Arsenal play away from home?
While other teams like Manchester City, Tottenham, Manchester United have secured victories on their trips away from home, Arsenal have slipped further behind, dropping way too many points.
Arsenal have conceded a worrying number of goals thus far. With 35 goals conceded, it is the greatest number as compared to the other teams in the top six. Liverpool is the team behind Arsenal, with 31 goals conceded.
Arsene Wenger had been switching between a back three and a back four, in an attempt to find the most suitable line-up for the team. Injuries to senior defenders saw Calum Chambers and Ainsley Maitland-Niles receiving much more game time than they have expected, especially for the latter.
To the disappointment of many Arsenal fans, the team failed to recruit any defenders in the January transfer window.
The most consistent defender has to be Nacho Monreal, but even for him, an error in judgement in the match against Swansea, allowed their opponents to have a scoring opportunity.
#3 Poor decision making from referees
Although many will argue that Arsenal’s lack of desire to win can be attributed to the current position the club is in, one has to admit that at times, the Gunners have been finding themselves at the wrong end of decisions from the referees.
Take for instance, the double-kicked penalty taken by Nottingham Forest. Many questionable decisions like the aforementioned one from the officials have led to multiple disadvantages for the Gunners throughout the season.
#4 Lack of attacking threat
Summer signing Alexandre Lacazette scored on his home debut for Arsenal but the French striker has found goals hard to come by, especially in big games.
With Danny Welbeck struggling for fitness, Theo Walcott and Olivier Giroud dropping to the second team, Arsenal simply did not pose a serious attacking threat to other teams. Unlike Manchester City who play with possession and a desire to score, the Gunners were often wasteful in front of goal.
Now with Walcott and Giroud having left the club, Arsenal have brought in Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to provide competition for Lacazette for a position in the starting team.
#5 Unhappy dressing room
The mood in the dressing room is often critical in determining the result of training sessions and the match itself.
Steven Gerrard recently mentioned that Alexis Sanchez had left the Arsenal dressing room toxic. Many players seemed unhappy with his performance, selfishness and unwillingness to open up to others.
With the rest of the players uncertain about his future, his commitment to the team, it certainly affected the whole team’s performance. The ball was often passed to Sanchez, who dragged and held onto the ball far too long.
Given that his situation has now been settled, let us hope for a better team performance from now on!