Despite having a poor 2020-2021, Arsenal stuck with manager Mikel Arteta and backed him in the transfer market.

The Emirates Stadium
The Emirates Stadium

The club spent a lot of money on young players, which many supporters questioned at the time, as they wanted to build a squad that could fulfill Arteta’s vision.

As the 2021-2022 season draws to a conclusion, it appears the Gunners were correct to back their young Spanish coach. As live soccer betting odds attest, Arsenal are heavy favorites to finish fourth in the Premier League and grab the last spot for the UEFA Champions League.

Below is a detailed assessment of Arsenal’s season, as they look to clinch fourth spot with a few Premier League games remaining.

Trust in Youth

Instead of signing established players that could get the club quick success, as was the policy under Unai Emery, Arsenal adopted a slower approach this summer. Their signings were largely young players, such as Aaron Ramsdale, Ben White, Nuno Tavares, and Martin Odegaard.

These players may not be world-class, nor are they the biggest names in the sport, but they do have the qualities that manager Arteta wanted from his squad. That is why they were bought, and they have proved Arteta correct in their performances this season.

Ben White has been outstanding in central defense alongside Gabriel, while keeper Ramsdale quickly displaced Bernd Leno as the number one choice between the sticks. Aside from the occasional mistake, Ramsdale has been terrific in his first season for the club.

No European Distractions

One of the most significant advantages for Arteta and Arsenal this season was their lack of European football. Due to a very low finish in the Premier League last term, Arsenal were not in the Europa League or Europa Conference League this term. They had no distractions in midweek all season, aside from domestic cup competitions.

Such a schedule meant that Arteta could do a lot of work on the training ground, instilling his ideas in the club’s existing players and new signings. Only having one game a week meant they were advantaged over teams of a similar quality who were playing in Europe, such as rivals Tottenham.

Arsenal also have a thinner squad than many comparable teams in the league, and that lack of depth would have been badly exposed had the club needed to play an extra 10 to 15 games due to being in a European competition.

Dennis Bergkamp's statue outside the Emirates Stadium
Dennis Bergkamp’s statue outside the Emirates Stadium

Parting Ways With Their Captain

One of the most consequential decisions that manager Arteta made this season was to axe captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. More than one disciplinary matter led to Aubameyang losing the club captaincy, which he had earned through his outstanding displays early in Arteta’s tenure at the club.

With Aubameyang stripped of the captaincy, his form suffered. The Gabon striker was unable to replicate the goalscoring feats of the past two seasons, and was eventually sidelined ahead of the January transfer window.

Rather than attempting to make it work with Aubameyang, Arteta decided to sell him in January. Barcelona came knocking, and a cut-price deal was arranged between the two clubs. Aubameyang is now happier in Spain, while Arsenal thrived in his absence in the second half of the season.

Champions League Qualification?

With three games remaining in their season, Arsenal sit in fourth spot with 66 points from 35 games. The club takes on Tottenham in the North London Derby on Thursday, and will be hoping to get either a draw or win to maintain their four point lead over Spurs in the league table.

If Arsenal can win two of their remaining three matches, they will qualify for the Champions League for next season by finishing fourth. Such a result would mean they have exceeded their season expectations, which were to qualify for the Europa League by finishing fifth or sixth in the Premier League.

Arsene Wenger's bust
Arsene Wenger’s bust

Summer Transfer Speculation

As the season draws to a conclusion, many fans are already turning their attention to the summer transfer window. If Arsenal do finish fourth in the Premier League, they will have a substantial budget to bring in new players and strengthen Arteta’s squad.

One of the areas they want to spend big is center forward, as they will have lost Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette, and likely Eddie Nketiah when this season concludes. Signing a top-class striker and a younger forward to rotate are priorities for Arsenal.

Other areas of the team to strengthen include at full-back, central midfield, and on the wings. Notable departures could include club-record signing Nicolas Pepe, who has failed to make the grade under Arteta these past years.