For weeks or even months, we were talking about how Arsenal has certainly improved under Mikel Arteta and the results will inevitably come. Well, they have started coming as the Gunners have recorded three wins in the past week or so.
They trashed Newcastle at home in the English Premier League, then earned a valuable 1-0 victory against Olympiacos in Europe and finished last week on a high after beating Everton in a five-goal thriller.
The performance was far from perfect in all of these games and we know that Arteta is here for the long term. But let’s forget about that for a second and think about this season. Arsenal is still part of the Europa League and the FA Cup, while the Premier League is completely unpredictable.
Let’s see what the Gunners can realistically achieve by the end of the 2019-20 campaign.
The English Premier League
Arsenal currently takes the ninth position in the English Premier League table with 37 points. That’s seven fewer than fourth-placed Chelsea and only four behind Manchester United in fifth.
If Manchester City’s UEFA ban stands, that means that the Gunners are only four points from a Champions League qualification. And let’s not forget that Manchester United and Tottenham are the main obstacles. Both sides have various issues and have failed to find any consistency.
Sheffield United doesn’t have the quality to keep up with the rest and Wolverhampton will most likely struggle to cope with playing on two fronts. The Wolves will push hard in Europe League and I don’t think they have Arsenal’s depth, even though their best starting eleven might be better right now.
Even Chelsea is not that far if you consider the results of the side since December.
I would argue that the door is open to any club that can string a good run together. Despite all the problems, Arsenal has gained a lot of momentum recently and the emergence of young talents like Saka and Nketiah provides Arteta with options.
Let’s not forget that the team has arguably the most lethal striker in the league right now in Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang who is flying on the pitch. The captain is scoring for fun and working his socks off which inspires the whole side.
A quick look at the schedule shows that the Gunners will face West Ham, Brighton, Southampton, and Norwich in their next four EPL games. If Arsenal wins 10 or 12 points from these matches, it’s game on in the league.
The Other Competitions
I will talk about the UEFA Europa League and the English FA Cup simultaneously, as Arsenal’s situation in both competitions is similar.
For a start, the Gunners are in a great position to reach the next stage. They have a decent lead against Olympiacos in Europe and visit Portsmouth in the domestic tournament. You would expect to see Arsenal succeed on both occasions.
On the negative side, that would be only the beginning of the road to a trophy. Arteta in his men will have to play much stronger teams in the near future and go through several other knockout rounds to even reach the final.
The other potential problem I see is that the Spaniard might be in a tough position in the spring. If Arsenal has to push on three fronts, it could be too much to handle. Arteta will be forced to rotate a lot and that could ruin the side’s ambitions in all tournaments.
Mikel Arteta will have a lot of tough decisions by the end of this season, but this is a good thing. It means that despite the complete mess he inherited and the many failures in the early stages of the campaign, Arsenal still has plenty to play for.
If the manager keeps improving the side and Lady Luck smiles at the Gunners, the club might end up the season with a trophy or with a place in next year’s Champions League. In the best-case scenario, it could be both.