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Chelsea season review 2021-22

Sports Mole takes a detailed look at Chelsea's 2021/22 season, which saw the Blues settle for Champions League qualification and a global tournament (Author: Gardener)

ChelseaAfter winning the Champions League last season, anyone connected with Chelsea would have been optimistic about launching a sustained Premier League bid and perhaps even defending their European crown. Although the campaign ended with two trophies added to their ever-growing cabinet, the Blues were more disappointed than cheered at a time when there has rarely been a quiet day behind the scenes since late February. When Thomas Tuchel pledged to become Chelsea manager in January 2021, he would have been aware that life is never quiet at Stamford Bridge, but the German did not expect to face questions about military invasions, government sanctions and changes ward off property. Tuchel is exemplary when it comes to speaking out on such matters, especially at a time when Chelsea have played a total of 63 games in all competitions this season. The season began with a success in the UEFA Super Cup final against Villarreal, Kepa Arrizabalaga being the hero in the penalty shoot-out and collecting 13 points from an opening five-game Premier League run that included encounters with Arsenal, Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur , was viewed as an extremely positive opening run. By that point, club-record new signing Romelu Lukaku had fitted seamlessly into attack and scored three goals by that point, but ending the month in a 1-0 home loss to Manchester City suggested Pep Guardiola's side were better prepared was to retain an advantage in the title race. Chelsea responded with 20 points from a possible 24, putting them in first place at West Ham United ahead of the December 4 showdown, but the Blues' domestic season began to unravel after they lost 3-2 at the London Stadium. Everton and Brighton & Hove Albion equalized late in December and a total of seven home draws that season ultimately proved crucial as they gradually dropped out of the title race and instead focused on third place. As of early November, Chelsea could only record one consecutive league win, although that particular streak lasted five games between January and March. There were times in the final weeks of the season when Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur threatened Chelsea's top-four position, but that quintet of victories ensured Chelsea crossed the finish line with two games to go. In the national cup competitions, Chelsea reached the finals. The EFL Cup was far less straightforward, Chelsea only played against Premier League clubs and needed penalties to prevail against Aston Villa and Southampton before eventually losing 11-10 to Liverpool after a goalless final draw in the same scenario. Chelsea's route to the FA Cup final was far more favorable as Tuchel's side only faced top-flight opponents in the semi-finals, facing off against Crystal Palace. As soon as another riveting final with Liverpool ending goalless, there was a definite chance for two lightning bolts to strike and their rivals prevailed again from 12 yards, this time by a 6-5 score. In February, Chelsea added another silverware to their collection with the Club World Cup. Despite all the criticism, Lukaku scored in both games against Al-Hilal and Palmeiras while Kai Havertz was the hero in the final when he scored the winning goal from the penalty spot three minutes from time. Chelsea would have figured out their chances for a second consecutive Champions League crown despite finishing just second to Juventus in the group stage. In their favor, Chelsea were sensational in the first leg at the Bernabeu, overcoming a 3-1 deficit to lead 4-3 on aggregate, but Rodrygo and Karim Benzema broke hearts as Real eventually advanced 5-4, eliminating Chelsea the quarterfinal stage. This game, along with many others, took place while the club was facing government-imposed sanctions, attributed to owner Roman Abramovich having ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who ordered the military invasion of Ukraine. The change of ownership remains an ongoing progress, but a consortium led by Todd Boehly hopes to take over by the end of the month. Being prevented from negotiating with soon-to-be-signed players has seen the likes of Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen already opting for new avenues, and uncertainty over the situation ultimately hit Chelsea during the run-in. The perception will be that Chelsea have underperformed this season and while technically that is true to some degree, the Blues have picked up seven more points and finished one position higher than 2020-21. Tuchel was often frustrated by the amount of chances wasted in the last third but with 76 goals they are 18 better than before, an impressive feat when only Mount is in double figures. Defensively there can be few complaints either, having conceded three fewer goals since last August, while Man City and Liverpool have just seven fewer. The obvious difference in cup performance is a Champions League quarter-final exit for the 2021 winners, but a third straight FA Cup final appearance means they match their second-place finish from last year. Losing in the EFL Cup Final would have been less disappointing as it was a far better performance than going to Tottenham Hotspur on penalties in the fourth round in September 2020. More goals were expected from Lukaku on the back of his £97.5m arrival but the Belgian topped the all-competition goalscoring charts with three more than the 12 scored by Timo Werner and Tammy Abraham last season. Although he would not have been in contention for Premier League and PFA top prizes this season, it is amazing that the academy graduate missed out on a nomination after contributing 11 goals and 10 assists from a playmaking role. Of course there were disappointments, most notably his decisive penalty in the FA Cup final shoot-out, but on average the England international has provided a goal or assist every 112 minutes in the top flight this season. Behind Rüdiger and Thiago Silva, who take on less strenuous duties, Mount also amassed the third-most minutes of any Blues outfield player, another stat that underscores that he deserves to be considered one of the top names on the squad list. This season, Chelsea have beaten Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur three times away without conceding, beating Juventus 4-0 in the Champions League group stage. But despite the general disappointment associated with being eliminated from the Champions League at the Bernabeu, Chelsea won 3-1 after regulation time and 3-2 after extra time, a feat far too strong to even compare ignoring the overall picture. Mount, Rudiger and Timo Werner all got on the scoresheet and for 75 minutes that was the most impressive of any English team in Europe this season. Chelsea were denied a spectacular comeback win in the draw only by the brilliance of Luka Modric and Rodrygo. In terms of consistency, Man City and Liverpool have been untouchable on the home front this season, but Chelsea have shown enough at the Bernabeu to suggest a summer of transfer activity is enough to close the gap. A left-field choice here would be the sight of likely new owner Todd Boehly attending matches at Stamford Bridge, which has not been seen in recent years as Abramovich was unable to obtain a UK visa. Chelsea were far from their best in both games in the Middle East, but Havertz' coolly executed penalty in the dying embers of extra time brought the Blues more success and cemented the legacy of the club and the individual players. Coincidentally, the legendary Spaniard extended his contract by 12 months around the time, but his status with the west London team is such that he is still expected to be allowed to leave for a new challenge. Of course, with Rudiger and Christensen already confirming they will leave and Azpilicueta and Marcos Alonso possibly walking through the exit door with their teammates, Chelsea and Tuchel will sign new defenders once a takeover is complete. Of all the players who have been linked with Chelsea, Sevilla's Jules Kounde seems the most likely for a move to Stamford Bridge and other suitable targets need to be identified to close the gap on the top two. Although defenders are the obvious priority, there is potential for sweeping changes across many areas of the squad, with backup goalkeepers, central midfield, creative positions and centre-forwards expected in the coming months. Conor Gallagher will almost certainly be fighting for a place in midfield after being loaned to Crystal Palace and Armando Broja has not dented his chances either with a string of impressive performances at Southampton. The Blues boss could consider adding young defender Levi Colwill to his plans after a season on loan at Huddersfield Town, which is a step too far at this point, but it's a natural path for Tuchel to consider. as a transitional period appears to be on the horizon. Tuchel's tasks could also include bringing the age of his squad down, which will be achieved if Jorginho, N'Golo Kante and Ross Barkley follow Azpilicueta and Alonso out of the club. On more than one occasion, Tuchel has insisted that Chelsea's season will not be seen as a disappointment just because they have lost two cup finals on penalties, nor will it be challenged for the Premier League title when two of the best teams in their history compete for the title fight crown. While at times they have shown their qualities on the biggest stage, on other occasions they have been undermined by disastrous performances. Chelsea have played over 60 games and experienced multiple overtimes, dealing with a significant coronavirus outbreak ahead of the Christmas games, traveled to the Middle East in February and encountered the sort of restrictions and distractions that seem more appropriate for television drama series, until they actually performed from February 24th. There were reasons Chelsea have not been able to keep up with Man City and Liverpool, but he knows a fresh slate under a new, equally ambitious owner will put pressure on him to impress on and off the pitch.

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Youri Tielemans has a change of heart as Arsenal push for £25m summer transfer

Arsenal are interested in a move for Belgium star Youri Tielemans as the Leicester City midfielder ponders his future, with Tottenham Hotspur also linked this summer (Author: Gardener)

Youri TielemansArsenal are interested in a move for Belgium star Youri Tielemans as the Leicester City midfielder ponders his future, with Tottenham Hotspur also linked this summer. Youri Tielemans may have played his last game for Leicester City as rumors link him with a move to Arsenal. Tielemans has reportedly turned down several offers to extend his stay at Leicester and favors a move to a Champions League club. Despite Arsenal finishing fifth in the Premier League and set to take part in the Europa League next season, Tielemans and his representatives are now open to the prospect of playing in the competition, according to the Telegraph. The 25-year-old made 12 appearances for the Foxes in Europe this season after they reached the semi-finals of the Europa Conference League. The Gunners just missed out on a place in the top four after finishing two points behind Tottenham, who passed them on the final day. Mikel Arteta's men needed a favor from the already relegated Norwich but Spurs put on a professional display to win 5-0 at Carrow Road - and secure their place in next season's Champions League. It was a disappointing end to the season for Arsenal, who have lost two of their last three games and managed to drop out of the top four despite a 5-1 win over Everton on Sunday afternoon. With Arsenal finishing six points and three places better than last season, it shows signs of progress and this summer looks set to be an important one as the Gunners push for more success. Youri Tielemans has scored six Premier League goals for Leicester City this season. Should Arsenal sign Youri Tielemans this summer? They are expected to face a battle from a number of clubs across Europe for his signature, with Tottenham, Real Madrid and Manchester United all reportedly in the running to sign the highly-rated midfielder. Tielemans wrote himself into Leicester folklore when he scored the decisive goal to win the FA Cup at Wembley last season, firing home from the edge of the box against Chelsea. In total, he has made 158 appearances for Leicester, scoring 24 goals after joining from Monaco in 2019. Tielemans was also capped 49 times for Belgium.

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Arsenal's season is still a success despite the Champions League heartache and the club are moving in the right direction

Arsenal's season is still a success despite the Champions League heartache and the club are moving in the right direction - (Author: Gardener)

Champions LeagueIt's a job well done that the celebration police were otherwise occupied on a hectic final day of the Premier League season as the spoilsports who have made regular unwanted appearances throughout Arsenal's election campaign would certainly have had one with the scenes in the Emirates had a field day. A 5-1 win over Everton wasn't enough to steal the top four finish they lost less than two weeks ago when Tottenham took that honor with their own smashing win over the doomed Norwich. Few locals arrived in the Emirates yesterday with much hope, rightly so as it turned out, and few left the Emirates early or even after the final whistle when their inevitable fate was finally sealed as the majority stayed to defiantly welcome the unexpected Progress of this personable young team during a lap of honor that Freed From Desire and Sweet Caroline had as part of their soundtrack. 'Good times have never seemed so good' may have urged it, but this didn't feel like a club crushed by disappointment at missing out on a golden opportunity, nor one that, in absolute terms, only had the minimum goal for the season had achieved the return to the Europa League secure. Unlike at the end of previous seasons, you see a club on the pitch (any sense of direction has not been taken for granted in the recent past) and certainly off the pitch in the right direction. That the latter emerging as perhaps the biggest success of this campaign is a touch of congestion given the position the Gunners had carved out in the table before falling short a few weeks ago, but that doesn't make it any less significant. In Arsene Wenger's final years and then Unai Emery's reign, the Emirates were often an awkward place to watch football - occasionally as bad as a breeding ground for toxicity within a divided fan base - before the pandemic hit and nobody stopped it there to look at at all. Arsenal aren't the only ones to report an improvement in the post-Covid atmosphere in line with the return of fans, but we're dealing with day and night when it comes to the before and after on this particular ground, where an anecdotally younger, livelier crowd seems to have emerged, embodied by the Ashburton Army, a band of vocal supporters who have grouped in the Clock End and led the way. New songs - the first to catch on in years - have been written for new heroes, led by Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe, and a new anthem has also been released in the final weeks of the season in the US in the form of Louis Dunford's The Angel . Arsenal missed out on Champions League qualification despite a stunning win over Everton (Arsenal FC via Getty Images). Home wins against Tottenham and Manchester United in particular are among the most celebrated since Highbury's move, but the matchdays themselves have been merely representative of a broader, orchestrated cultural shift. aghhhhh!”) who repositioned the club as an asset to its community following the failed European Super League robbery. There has also been an attempt to bridge the gap to fame that has quickly returned to an earlier era (see Thierry Henry and Dennis Bergkamp meet Saka and Smith Rowe) and a synergy between the men's and women's teams that is as pronounced as at no other club in the country and contributes to the united front. Check out Vivianne Miedema's comments after she signed her contract extension last week. The Dutch forward had turned down players like Barcelona because it would "mean more" to win trophies at Arsenal. It's the kind of feeling that can only come from a certain environment and which the Gunners hope will resonate with the likes of Saka, who has only to look to Manchester City and Jack Grealish, a Premier League champion 12 months on he has left his youth club to display the alternative route offered. Celebrating all of this after such a damaging end to the campaign for Arteta's side might seem ridiculous to rival fans, and that's fine. If anyone tempered yesterday's scenes, it was the Spaniard himself, who said he was still "in pain" after the Newcastle debacle and couldn't be happy with qualifying for the Europa League, while Arsenal supporters have been for years recognize themselves If they were half as good at football as they are at social media campaigns and designing warm-up shirts, they would be European champions. That's why, despite the heartache of the past two weeks, many of Arsenal's loyal fans are already itching to do it all again next year.

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Is Arsenal's fifth place a sign of progress or a failure?

At the start of the season, a fifth place finish in the Premier League would no doubt have been seen as a win for Arsenal. But given how it turned out, it was clearly a big missed opportunity. (Author: Gardener)

fifthWith Champions League football within reach for so long, Arsenal will wait at least another year before returning to top-flight European club competition. The disappointment was evident after Sunday's season finale against Everton as Tottenham's 5-0 win at Norwich rendered Arsenal's 5-1 win over Everton at the Emirates Stadium irrelevant. A streak of three straight wins for Spurs at the end of the season secured them the last place in the top four in the Premier League, while Arsenal have suffered costly recent defeats at the north London derby and Newcastle. "We did what we had to do," Arteta said after Sunday's win that saw Arsenal finish the season with 69 points, two behind Spurs. The league table at the end of the season doesn't lie. "It's true that last year Chelsea got promoted to the Champions League with 67 points and we have 69 and we're out, but that's the level and demands that this league has now. It's difficult, the season of Really appreciate Arsenal and that's perhaps why their fifth-place finish sparked such a debate. Many see it as a failure, while many believe there have been clear signs of progress. Internally, Arteta's goal was clear at the start of the season. To bring Arsenal back to Europe through a top six result. The club invested heavily during the summer transfer window, spending around £145m ($182m). Many scoffed at Arsenal's transfer business at the time, particularly when they opened the season with three straight league defeats and went into their first international break bottomed in the table without having collected a single point or even scored a goal. But as signings settled and were included in the starting XI, Arsenal improved dramatically and real optimism began to grow in north London. Arteta has worked hard to re-establish a connection between the team and the fans and that connection has become ever clearer as the season has progressed. "You can see what we're doing," Arteta said after the game. "You can see what the players want to do, how they represent the club and who we are as a group." Arteta's young side have been a lot of fun for fans over the past 10 months and a top-five finish must be considered Progress can be viewed after finishing eighth in each of the last two seasons. Arsenal are back in Europe next season and have made it as the youngest team in the Premier League. They have also done so while overhauling their squad and removing several big names with high wages, most notably Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang who left in January. So there are many reasons why Arsenal's season can be considered relatively successful. The club have slashed wage bills, drastically reduced the age of the squad and the side have reconnected with enthusiastic fans that was almost completely lost. Arsenal have accumulated more points and scored more goals this season, although no striker has scored more than five times in the league. And with the club set to spend big on two new strikers this summer, one would expect this to be an area where things are set to improve even further during the 2022-23 season. "We will take the club to the next level," said Arteta. However, despite showing clear signs of improvement since the start of the season, it's also very difficult not to see Arsenal's fifth-place finish as a massive failure as well. The fact of the matter is, with four games to go, they were just one win away from securing Champions League football again. They put themselves in a position where they had their destiny in their own hands and they threw it all away right at the finish line. Arteta's side have had a lot to offer this season. Tottenham started the season badly and had to change their manager. A lot went in Arsenal's favor but they couldn't capitalize on it. The club also opted not to reinforce in the January transfer window. In fact, they weakened their squad and let several players go, including Aubameyang. Meanwhile, Tottenham have signed Dejan Kulusevski and Rodrigo Bentancur, two players who played a big part in their strong finish to the season. Arsenal's lack of activity in January was always a risk given what was at stake and ultimately it looks like a gamble that massively backfired. So overall, it's difficult to really define Arsenal's season. To begin with, a fifth place would no doubt be considered a success. But given the trajectory and the position they put themselves in, it was clearly a huge missed opportunity. Ultimately, Arsenal's 2021-22 season may not really be defined until the end of next season. If they move on and build on the foundations laid over the past 10 months, then one could look back to the time when the project under Arteta really started to take shape. But if they fight and fall even further behind their top-flight rivals, it will surely be remembered as the season when they missed their big opportunity.

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Is Arsenal's fifth place a sign of progress or a failure?

At the start of the season, a fifth place finish in the Premier League would no doubt have been seen as a win for Arsenal. But given how it turned out, it was clearly a big missed opportunity. (Author: Gardener)

fifthWith Champions League football within reach for so long, Arsenal will wait at least another year before returning to top-flight European club competition. The disappointment was evident after Sunday's season finale against Everton as Tottenham's 5-0 win at Norwich rendered Arsenal's 5-1 win over Everton at the Emirates Stadium irrelevant. A streak of three straight wins for Spurs at the end of the season secured them the last place in the top four in the Premier League, while Arsenal have suffered costly recent defeats at the north London derby and Newcastle. "We did what we had to do," Arteta said after Sunday's win that saw Arsenal finish the season with 69 points, two behind Spurs. The league table at the end of the season doesn't lie. "It's true that last year Chelsea got promoted to the Champions League with 67 points and we have 69 and we're out, but that's the level and demands that this league has now. It's difficult, the season of Really appreciate Arsenal and that's perhaps why their fifth-place finish sparked such a debate. Many see it as a failure, while many believe there have been clear signs of progress. Internally, Arteta's goal was clear at the start of the season. To bring Arsenal back to Europe through a top six result. The club invested heavily during the summer transfer window, spending around £145m ($182m). Many scoffed at Arsenal's transfer business at the time, particularly when they opened the season with three straight league defeats and went into their first international break bottomed in the table without having collected a single point or even scored a goal. But as signings settled and were included in the starting XI, Arsenal improved dramatically and real optimism began to grow in north London. Arteta has worked hard to re-establish a connection between the team and the fans and that connection has become ever clearer as the season has progressed. "You can see what we're doing," Arteta said after the game. "You can see what the players want to do, how they represent the club and who we are as a group." Arteta's young side have been a lot of fun for fans over the past 10 months and a top-five finish must be considered Progress can be viewed after finishing eighth in each of the last two seasons. Arsenal are back in Europe next season and have made it as the youngest team in the Premier League. They have also done so while overhauling their squad and removing several big names with high wages, most notably Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang who left in January. So there are many reasons why Arsenal's season can be considered relatively successful. The club have slashed wage bills, drastically reduced the age of the squad and the side have reconnected with enthusiastic fans that was almost completely lost. Arsenal have accumulated more points and scored more goals this season, although no striker has scored more than five times in the league. And with the club set to spend big on two new strikers this summer, one would expect this to be an area where things are set to improve even further during the 2022-23 season. "We will take the club to the next level," said Arteta. However, despite showing clear signs of improvement since the start of the season, it's also very difficult not to see Arsenal's fifth-place finish as a massive failure as well. The fact of the matter is, with four games to go, they were just one win away from securing Champions League football again. They put themselves in a position where they had their destiny in their own hands and they threw it all away right at the finish line. Arteta's side have had a lot to offer this season. Tottenham started the season badly and had to change their manager. A lot went in Arsenal's favor but they couldn't capitalize on it. The club also opted not to reinforce in the January transfer window. In fact, they weakened their squad and let several players go, including Aubameyang. Meanwhile, Tottenham have signed Dejan Kulusevski and Rodrigo Bentancur, two players who played a big part in their strong finish to the season. Arsenal's lack of activity in January was always a risk given what was at stake and ultimately it looks like a gamble that massively backfired. So overall, it's difficult to really define Arsenal's season. To begin with, a fifth place would no doubt be considered a success. But given the trajectory and the position they put themselves in, it was clearly a huge missed opportunity. Ultimately, Arsenal's 2021-22 season may not really be defined until the end of next season. If they move on and build on the foundations laid over the past 10 months, then one could look back to the time when the project under Arteta really started to take shape. But if they fight and fall even further behind their top-flight rivals, it will surely be remembered as the season when they missed their big opportunity.

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5 Arsenal goals that prompted Champions League football to join the Gunners

Missing out on a place in European club football's most elite competition, Mikel Arteta's Arsenal side could pay the price in summer recruitment (Author: Gardener)

Champions LeagueMikel Arteta's Arsenal side have missed out on a place in European club football's most elite competition and could pay the price in the summer when it comes to recruiting Arteta 'in pain' after Arsenal missed out on the Champions League following a spectacular surrender with Mit with a five-point lead and just three games to go, the Gunners handed the coveted fourth spot to their closest rivals Tottenham Hotspur. Mikel Arteta's men beat Everton 5-1 on the final day of the season but it proved academic as Spurs had beaten the already relegated Norwich 5-0 at Carrow Road to ensure the Champions League- Football would return to North London. but not the red half. Losses to Spurs and Newcastle away would prove a turning point for a young, inexperienced Arsenal side who are able to bounce back from their efforts this season, although they ended up two points off target. Arteta admitted he was in "pain" after defeating the Toffees. "I can't assess the season today, I'm sorry, I'm still in a lot of pain after what happened on Monday [Loss at Newcastle]. I can't give a fair assessment of what we've done," explained Arteta. "I'm very grateful to everyone who supports our club, for the way they give us confidence, respect and motivation to move forward because I think they believe in what we're doing. That's why I'm in pain." Arteta's pain could only grow as he starts to contemplate the impact missing out on the Champions League could have in terms of his transfer goals. The Gunners were in the mix to sign some quality players - demand players who could now be looking to spread their wings elsewhere. Gabriel Jesus a key target for Arsenal this summer Could Arsenal struggle to recruit the kind of players they want this summer? The most obvious figure would be Manchester City's Gabriel Jesus. The Brazilian has been in the Premier League four times since arriving at the Etihad and is reportedly tired of playing second fiddle in the final year of his contract as he could walk out the door for free next summer , City are excited about the idea of ​​cashing in on Jesus in the upcoming window - and putting Arsenal and Arteta, someone who has already worked closely with the striker, on high alert As an assistant coach at City, Jesus could prove difficult to tempt an Arsenal move while they are in the Europa League. What would be a painful blow for the Gunners, Tottenham have also had a long-standing interest in Martinez and the South American striker could now see Spurs as an attractive option given the lure of Champions League football - something Antonio Conte's men can of course now offer . Paulo Dybala has confirmed he will leave Juventus this summer after contract talks between the player and the Turin-based titans collapsed. Paulo Dybala was wanted by Arsenal but that deal now seems unlikely. For a player who has won multiple Serie A titles and played regularly in the Champions League, a move to Arsenal to play in European football's second-tier competition would undoubtedly be a step backwards, something which in truth Dybala is likely to overlook. The fifth target Arsenal could not win this summer is Leicester City's midfield talisman Youri Tielemans. In a similar situation to Jesus in terms of his contract situation, the Belgian has shown little sign of wanting to extend his stay at the King Power. It's believed Arteta holds the player in high esteem and would be willing to bid around £30million for Tielemans' services before he becomes available for free this time next year. "Of course, like every footballer, I want to play in the Champions League," said Tielemans. "Am I ready for a top European club? The Belgium international is likely to be another player the Gunners will miss due to their late season-ending surrender.

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Is Arsenal's fifth place a sign of progress or a failure?

At the start of the season, a fifth place finish in the Premier League would no doubt have been seen as a win for Arsenal. But given how it turned out, it was clearly a big missed opportunity. (Author: Gardener)

fifthWith Champions League football within reach for so long, Arsenal will wait at least another year before returning to top-flight European club competition. The disappointment was evident after Sunday's season finale against Everton as Tottenham's 5-0 win at Norwich rendered Arsenal's 5-1 win over Everton at the Emirates Stadium irrelevant. A streak of three straight wins for Spurs at the end of the season secured them the last place in the top four in the Premier League, while Arsenal have suffered costly recent defeats at the north London derby and Newcastle. "We did what we had to do," Arteta said after Sunday's win that saw Arsenal finish the season with 69 points, two behind Spurs. The league table at the end of the season doesn't lie. "It's true that last year Chelsea got promoted to the Champions League with 67 points and we have 69 and we're out, but that's the level and demands that this league has now. It's difficult, the season of Really appreciate Arsenal and that's perhaps why their fifth-place finish sparked such a debate. Many see it as a failure, while many believe there have been clear signs of progress. Internally, Arteta's goal was clear at the start of the season. To bring Arsenal back to Europe through a top six result. The club invested heavily during the summer transfer window, spending around £145m ($182m). Many scoffed at Arsenal's transfer business at the time, particularly when they opened the season with three straight league defeats and went into their first international break bottomed in the table without having collected a single point or even scored a goal. But as signings settled and were included in the starting XI, Arsenal improved dramatically and real optimism began to grow in north London. Arteta has worked hard to re-establish a connection between the team and the fans and that connection has become ever clearer as the season has progressed. "You can see what we're doing," Arteta said after the game. "You can see what the players want to do, how they represent the club and who we are as a group." Arteta's young side have been a lot of fun for fans over the past 10 months and a top-five finish must be considered Progress can be viewed after finishing eighth in each of the last two seasons. Arsenal are back in Europe next season and have made it as the youngest team in the Premier League. They have also done so while overhauling their squad and removing several big names with high wages, most notably Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang who left in January. So there are many reasons why Arsenal's season can be considered relatively successful. The club have slashed wage bills, drastically reduced the age of the squad and the side have reconnected with enthusiastic fans that was almost completely lost. Arsenal have accumulated more points and scored more goals this season, although no striker has scored more than five times in the league. And with the club set to spend big on two new strikers this summer, one would expect this to be an area where things are set to improve even further during the 2022-23 season. "We will take the club to the next level," said Arteta. However, despite showing clear signs of improvement since the start of the season, it's also very difficult not to see Arsenal's fifth-place finish as a massive failure as well. The fact of the matter is, with four games to go, they were just one win away from securing Champions League football again. They put themselves in a position where they had their destiny in their own hands and they threw it all away right at the finish line. Arteta's side have had a lot to offer this season. Tottenham started the season badly and had to change their manager. A lot went in Arsenal's favor but they couldn't capitalize on it. The club also opted not to reinforce in the January transfer window. In fact, they weakened their squad and let several players go, including Aubameyang. Meanwhile, Tottenham have signed Dejan Kulusevski and Rodrigo Bentancur, two players who played a big part in their strong finish to the season. Arsenal's lack of activity in January was always a risk given what was at stake and ultimately it looks like a gamble that massively backfired. So overall, it's difficult to really define Arsenal's season. To begin with, a fifth place would no doubt be considered a success. But given the trajectory and the position they put themselves in, it was clearly a huge missed opportunity. Ultimately, Arsenal's 2021-22 season may not really be defined until the end of next season. If they move on and build on the foundations laid over the past 10 months, then one could look back to the time when the project under Arteta really started to take shape. But if they fight and fall even further behind their top-flight rivals, it will surely be remembered as the season when they missed their big opportunity.

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Arsenal season review 2021-22

Sports Mole takes a close look at Arsenal's 2021/22 campaign, which saw them endure heartache late in the race for Champions League football. (Author: Gardener)

ArsenalArsenal and Mikel Arteta faced their first season away from European football for the first time since the turn of the millennium and were under immense pressure to put their extra rest periods to good use. Arteta certainly couldn't imagine a third consecutive result outside the top seven given their clever summer deal that raised many eyebrows at the time, but the Spaniard's youngsters have certainly served him well throughout the campaign. The Gunners, who were locked in a Champions League clash with arch-rivals Tottenham Hotspur until Matchday 38, ultimately failed to materialize and another intense summer of transfer business awaits Edu and Co before returning to continental action. Some of Arsenal's summer 2021 signings did not go down well with Arsenal faithful, while others were celebrated across North London, but the club's spending spree proved incredibly ineffective in the opening weeks of the season. Defeats to Brentford, Chelsea and Manchester City without scoring a goal set alarm bells ringing in the Emirates as Arsenal sat at the foot of the table - albeit with COVID-19 and injury worries - but the Gunners soon found themselves in the autumn months her groove . An eight-game unbeaten run in the Premier League propelled the Gunners early into the European conversation. Of course, that run included the vibrant 3-1 North London derby win over Tottenham Hotspur and the transition from boys to men of Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe was in full effect, with the Hale End graduates scoring one and assisting one each Game. The new year began with a heartbreaking 2-1 loss for Arsenal to Manchester City before controversy reared its ugly head as the Gunners successfully postponed their north London derby with Tottenham as injuries, COVID-19 and the African nations -Pokal took its toll. Many were quick to criticize the Gunners' lack of winter signings and send players on loan like nobody else, but Arsenal spoke on the pitch with six wins out of seven ahead of the international break in March - the perfect boost for their third-round FA Cup exit and elimination by Liverpool in the semi-finals of the EFL Cup. However, Crystal Palace, Brighton & Hove Albion and Southampton all shattered the Gunners' momentum in April and the Gunners were also rocked by news of long-term injuries to two integral cogs in Kieran Tierney and Thomas Partey, with the squad stretched in recent times weeks to the limit. The squad players would rise in back-to-back victories over Manchester United, Chelsea, West Ham United and Leeds United but Arteta's luck ran out in the rescheduled north London derby as Spurs ended the race for Champions League football with a 3-0 left success wide open. After Arsenal failed to react in a frankly embarrassing 2-0 loss to Newcastle United on the penultimate round, with Spurs handing the initiative in the process, Arsenal needed a miracle on Matchday 38 and despite a 5-1 win over Everton something happened on Carrow Road didn't go their way. Under fire from many fans after consecutive eighth places in the Premier League, fifth place marks a huge improvement over the past 12 months, even if their Champions League dream hasn't materialized. In the last two seasons, Arsenal have lost 13 times in the Premier League but this time they have recorded 22 wins compared to 18 last season, while they drew just three times in 2020-21 after eight stalemates. The Gunners also scored and conceded more goals than last season domestically, but ended up with a slightly poorer goal difference of +13 compared to +16 12 months ago. Of course, after reaching the Europa League semi-finals last season, Arsenal didn't have any European commitments to worry about this season, while it's been a mixed bag when it comes to the trophies. The Gunners defended the 2020-21 FA Cup but were eliminated by Southampton in round four, while falling at the first hurdle against an inspired Nottingham Forest side in the third round this season. Manchester City would end Arsenal's EFL Cup run in the quarter-finals last season but there was hope Arteta's side would reach the final this year after giving Liverpool a goalless draw in the first leg of their semi-final at Anfield. The Reds proved too strong at the Emirates, however, with Arsenal doing better in one tournament and worse in the other, but their progress in the Premier League was for all to see. For a 19-year-old boy to step onto the biggest stage of them all and miss the penalty that would cost his country a major international title, Bukayo Saka has made a huge recovery from his heartbreak at Euro 2020 and has become one of Arteta's most dependable performers. A tally of 12 goals and seven assists fully justifies why Saka was nominated for the Premier League Player of the Season award and it's no surprise that Arsenal are looking to tie down their Hale End starlet for longer. Speculations of a move to Liverpool or Manchester City have not fazed the England international and his unassuming, down-to-earth manner has been a delight to Emirates fans all season. Twenty years ago Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger faced each other when the Premier League title was at stake. In 2022, Ralf Rangnick and Arteta battled it out with the goal of avoiding previously underperforming in the race for fourth place. With just three minutes left, the unpredictable left-back Nuno Tavares put the Gunners ahead before Nketiah was able to finish and while his goal came from an offside position, the game was brought back for Alex Telles' foul on Saka. The 20-year-old stepped forward to convert the penalty before Cristiano Ronaldo gave Man United a glimmer of hope but the Portuguese then inexplicably relinquished the penalty call to Bruno Fernandes, who held his head in his hands as his penalty was shot down Post Office. Arsenal rode their luck for much of the competition but Granit Xhaka's usual shouter against the Red Devils effectively ended Man United's hopes of a top-four result and ensured they would remain in the conversation for a while. Two weeks before Wolves were invited to a crucial battle in the top-four race at the Emirates, Arsenal won 1-0 at Molineux despite playing most of the game with 10 men after Gabriel Martinelli's bizarre red card. Ruben Neves, in particular, didn't take well to Arsenal's joy after the game at Molineux, leading to a wider rift with the 'cheer police', but Arteta's side didn't keep up their jubilant cheers during Bruno Lage's side's visit to north London return . After Hwang Hee-chan capitalized on a defensive error to give Wolves the lead, Arsenal seemed on the brink as they faced one of the best teams in the league when it came to maintaining a one-goal advantage. However, Nicolas Pepe's turn and finish preceded a last-minute Jose Sa own goal to set off a roar from the home side that drowned out the voices of the celebrating police as best they could. Crucial victories over Chelsea and Manchester United - as well as September's derby success in north London - cannot be discounted, but they pale in comparison to the drama and context of February 24. Alexandre Lacazette's time in the Emirates is almost over - the Frenchman has already admitted that he is in talks about a move - while Eddie Nketiah has been brought to life in recent weeks but no new deal appears to be offered either. Arteta simply cannot step into the 2022-23 season if only Folarin Balogun is ready to lead the line. Darwin Nunez is the dream target but Gabriel Jesus and Dominic Calvert-Lewin represent more realistic options with Premier League experience. In addition, Arteta cannot rely on Cedric Soares and Nuno Tavares to deliver week after week who would be delighted Aaron Hickey from Bologna to the club shortly to bolster his full-back options and hopefully Ligue 1 Young Player of the Year William Saliba back in his ranks. Most Arsenal fans would have accepted a top-six finish earlier in the season given the urgency to return to European football, and few expected the Gunners to stay in the top four for so long. A lack of squad depth with a particularly young group of players ultimately derailed Arsenal's bid for the top four, but there has been plenty to celebrate for the Gunners this season and their starlets will only improve from now on. Of course, injury worries, a lack of recklessness and several late-season defensive mistakes were blots on Arteta's notebook but Arsenal fans will have to get used to the sight of the Spaniard following his new contract.

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Is Arsenal's fifth place a sign of progress or a failure?

At the start of the season, a fifth place finish in the Premier League would no doubt have been seen as a win for Arsenal. But given how it turned out, it was clearly a big missed opportunity. (Author: Gardener)

fifthWith Champions League football within reach for so long, Arsenal will wait at least another year before returning to top-flight European club competition. The disappointment was evident after Sunday's season finale against Everton as Tottenham's 5-0 win at Norwich rendered Arsenal's 5-1 win over Everton at the Emirates Stadium irrelevant. A streak of three straight wins for Spurs at the end of the season secured them the last place in the top four in the Premier League, while Arsenal have suffered costly recent defeats at the north London derby and Newcastle. "We did what we had to do," Arteta said after Sunday's win that saw Arsenal finish the season with 69 points, two behind Spurs. The league table at the end of the season doesn't lie. "It's true that last year Chelsea got promoted to the Champions League with 67 points and we have 69 and we're out, but that's the level and demands that this league has now. It's difficult, the season of Really appreciate Arsenal and that's perhaps why their fifth-place finish sparked such a debate. Many see it as a failure, while many believe there have been clear signs of progress. Internally, Arteta's goal was clear at the start of the season. To bring Arsenal back to Europe through a top six result. The club invested heavily during the summer transfer window, spending around £145m ($182m). Many scoffed at Arsenal's transfer business at the time, particularly when they opened the season with three straight league defeats and went into their first international break bottomed in the table without having collected a single point or even scored a goal. But as signings settled and were included in the starting XI, Arsenal improved dramatically and real optimism began to grow in north London. Arteta has worked hard to re-establish a connection between the team and the fans and that connection has become ever clearer as the season has progressed. "You can see what we're doing," Arteta said after the game. "You can see what the players want to do, how they represent the club and who we are as a group." Arteta's young side have been a lot of fun for fans over the past 10 months and a top-five finish must be considered Progress can be viewed after finishing eighth in each of the last two seasons. Arsenal are back in Europe next season and have made it as the youngest team in the Premier League. They have also done so while overhauling their squad and removing several big names with high wages, most notably Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang who left in January. So there are many reasons why Arsenal's season can be considered relatively successful. The club have slashed wage bills, drastically reduced the age of the squad and the side have reconnected with enthusiastic fans that was almost completely lost. Arsenal have accumulated more points and scored more goals this season, although no striker has scored more than five times in the league. And with the club set to spend big on two new strikers this summer, one would expect this to be an area where things are set to improve even further during the 2022-23 season. "We will take the club to the next level," said Arteta. However, despite showing clear signs of improvement since the start of the season, it's also very difficult not to see Arsenal's fifth-place finish as a massive failure as well. The fact of the matter is, with four games to go, they were just one win away from securing Champions League football again. They put themselves in a position where they had their destiny in their own hands and they threw it all away right at the finish line. Arteta's side have had a lot to offer this season. Tottenham started the season badly and had to change their manager. A lot went in Arsenal's favor but they couldn't capitalize on it. The club also opted not to reinforce in the January transfer window. In fact, they weakened their squad and let several players go, including Aubameyang. Meanwhile, Tottenham have signed Dejan Kulusevski and Rodrigo Bentancur, two players who played a big part in their strong finish to the season. Arsenal's lack of activity in January was always a risk given what was at stake and ultimately it looks like a gamble that massively backfired. So overall, it's difficult to really define Arsenal's season. To begin with, a fifth place would no doubt be considered a success. But given the trajectory and the position they put themselves in, it was clearly a huge missed opportunity. Ultimately, Arsenal's 2021-22 season may not really be defined until the end of next season. If they move on and build on the foundations laid over the past 10 months, then one could look back to the time when the project under Arteta really started to take shape. But if they fight and fall even further behind their top-flight rivals, it will surely be remembered as the season when they missed their big opportunity.

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Transfer News LIVE! Tottenham battle Arsenal for Gabriel Jesus; Tchouameni to Liverpool; Lewandowski at the latest

Transfer News LIVE! Tottenham battle Arsenal for Gabriel Jesus; Tchouameni to Liverpool; Lewandowski new - Follow the latest transfer news and rumors throughout the summer (Author: Gardener)

LewandowskiThe Premier League season is hardly over, but it's already time to take a look at what's expected to be an exciting summer transfer window. Champions Manchester City have already signed superstar striker Erling Haaland and are now on the hunt for a new midfielder, while Liverpool need to strengthen their squad again to keep up and are looking to sign Monaco's Aurelien Tchouameni. It's another new morning at Manchester United under Erik ten Hag and many new faces are expected at Old Trafford, while Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel has already hinted at new attacking signings once Todd Boehly's takeover at Stamford Bridge is completed. Robert Lewandowski's future will also be a big topic of conversation as he prepares to leave Bayern Munich amid Barcelona links, although Kylian Mbappe has announced he will stay at Paris Saint-Germain and yet not join Real Madrid, which makes LaLiga angry. Man United want to sell Wan-Bissaka and Bailly 08:35 , Alex Young Manchester United still intends to sell both Eric Bailly and Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Fabrizio Romano reports that Edinson Cavani's exit is already confirmed and United now have offers for the two defender will listen. 08:21 , Alex Young It wouldn't be a transfer window without Houssem Aouar. Still in Lyon, the former Arsenal and Juventus target is being targeted by Copa del Rey winners Real Betis. According to Foot Mercato, Betis Aouar want to link up with another former Premier League target Nabil Fekir and hope to agree a deal worth around £15million. 07:51 , George Flood The France international, 22, has been rumored to be a key transfer target for Jurgen Klopp and has previously been on the radar at both Manchester United and Chelsea. French outlet RMC Sport are now reporting that both Liverpool and Real Madrid have agreed personal terms with Tchouameni now facing a choice of who to join. Neither side has yet agreed on a deal with Monaco, who are said to be offering around €80m for a valuable asset who is still under contract until 2024. 07:39 . George Flood Tottenham and Arsenal are expected to fight for Gabriel Jesus this summer. Former Manchester City assistant Mikel Arteta is known to be keen on a reunion with the Brazil striker, with the Gunners having promising talks with agent Marcelo Pettinati. Jesus has remained a key figure for Premier League champions City this season, starting yesterday with their dramatic title win against Aston Villa, but is about to enter the final 12 months of his contract and will be affected by the imminent arrival of Erling Haaland pushed down in the Etihad pecking order. On Monday, The Telegraph reported that Spurs will compete with Arsenal for Jesus' signature as they look to further bolster a strong attack with Harry Kane , Heung-min Son and Dejan Kulusevski arriving on a permanent transfer from Juventus. Kane is expected to remain in north London following Tottenham's Champions League return, although manager Antonio Conte's fate remains unclear despite this significant performance. It also remains to be seen how City will react to Spurs' pursuit of Jesus given last summer's frustratingly failed hunt for Kane... 07:30 , Alex Young Erik ten Hag will be officially appointed as Manchester's new manager at 12:00 GMT United presented. He was at Selhurst Park on Sunday to watch his new team lose to Crystal Palace. You can follow it live with us. 07:00 , Alex Young Aston Villa have acted quickly to seal a deal for Olympique Marseille's Boubacar Kamara. The highly-rated 22-year-old is out of contract at the end of the season and according to widespread reports, Villa Park will be his next destination. He told Telefoot on Sunday: "I have now decided to leave OM and join a new league... You will soon know my new club." 06:30 , Alex Young Tottenham is considering signing Inter Milan winger Ivan Perisic, according to ESPN free transfer The 33-year-old's contract expires next month and he remains in talks with Inter over an extension, although a departure is expected. Juventus are currently leading the race for his signature Perisic is reportedly interested in a Spurs move over the prospect of a Tottenham reunion It's likely he could come, yes," Xavi told a press conference at the weekend. “He also said it publicly. There are negotiations but it won't be easy, he has a one-year contract with Bayern." 05:30 , Alex Young Arsenal have failed with a huge £76m offer for Napoli striker Victor Osimhen, according to reports from Italy. Mikel Areta is Reportedly ready to break the club's transfer record for the Napoli forward, who has impressed in Serie A this season after arriving from Lille, Italian club Calciomercato claim Napoli are not interested in the youngster 05:00 , Alex Young Good morning and welcome to the Evening Standard's LIVE coverage of the summer transfer window.With clubs far stronger financially post-pandemic and many needing reinforcements ahead of a season , which includes a World Cup for the first time, we should be treated to a huge couple of months.

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