Paul Merson, who spent 15 years at Arsenal during his career, has had his say on his former side’s season by grading them from A+ to F-.
This was the first year in two decades that Arsenal have not qualified for the UEFA Champions League and naturally, that’s disappointing.
Having narrowly improved their points tally for the season from last year, where they finished in second-place, it’s little consolation that they’ve got an FA Cup Final to look forward to this weekend. Which is against none other than the Premier League champions Chelsea.
Merson unsurprisingly gave the Blues an A+ for their efforts this season, though stressed the importance of strengthening with European competition set to return next season. Tottenham got an A but the 49-year-old stressed the importance of favourable early fixtures, especially as they’ll be playing at Wembley next season whilst their stadium is rebuilt.
Manchester City got a D as Pep Guardiola was expected to win the league at the first time of asking, while Liverpool were given a generous B+ despite needing a victory on the last day to secure Champions League qualification next season.
So with that in mind, what was Merson’s verdict on Arsenal’s campaign? A D-, which he described as “disappointing.”
“First time in 20 years they haven’t got in the top four, they were a long way off the pace and Tottenham finished above them for the first time in ages,” Merson stated.
They were embarrassed by Bayern Munich during their last-16 Champions League tie, losing 10-2 on aggregate after successive 5-1 defeats. This was highlighted as another frustration in itself, the manner of their losses against opposition they should’ve been challenging.
“It’s the way they lost games as well. Against Bayern Munich when they were 2-1 down with 10 men they had to draw the line and not keep going forward and getting beat by a silly score. That’s the problem with Arsenal. Then Tottenham dismantled them as well.”
Arsenal have always been criticised for poor game-management against tough opposition and this season has been no different, especially with eleven defeats across all competitions this term. Hopefully though, a season outside of the Champions League will do the Gunners a world of good as they look to avoid being left behind by their rival clubs.