Despite uncertainties around their pursuit of the Premier League title at the end of May, Mikel Arteta and his Arsenal team have had a remarkable season. They currently sit second in the league standings, in contention for their first league title since the 2003/04 season. While some may argue that this is Arsenal’s best chance of winning the title, it’s important to reflect on where the club was when Arteta took over in December 2019. The unity between the fans and club has revitalised the energy around Arsenal, particularly on match days at The Emirates.
Arsenal’s re-emerging rivals
However, next season, Arsenal will face potential emerging threats from teams that have shown significant improvement this season. Manchester United, managed by Erik ten Hag, are likely to secure a top-four finish and Champions League football. They have already won the Carabao Cup and are set to face Manchester City in the FA Cup final at Wembley. Newcastle, managed by Eddie Howe, have also proven to be a formidable force and are on track for a Champions League spot next season.
Former Arsenal striker Emmanuel Adebayor acknowledges that Arsenal’s emerging rivals, including United, Newcastle, Liverpool, and Chelsea, will pose a significant threat next season. All four teams will be looking to strengthen their squads, which could make it difficult for Arsenal.
“It’s safe to assume that teams like Liverpool, Manchester United and Chelsea will strengthen considerably this summer. Newcastle can be expected to do the same. That’s why it won’t be any easier to play for the championship title in the coming season.”
However, Adebayor believes that Arteta has laid a strong foundation and that adding some experience in key areas of the squad will be crucial for Arsenal to take the next steps towards winning the title.
“But this squad is well-positioned and still lacks a certain amount of experience and robustness. It is important that this structure remains in place in the coming season so that this team can continue to grow.”
Buakyo Saka’s maturing process
Bukayo Saka missed a penalty at the European Championship and was heavily criticised for it. He was able to bounce back from the disappointment and has now established himself as one of the league’s performers. Saka also missed a penalty against West Ham, which could prove to be a decisive factor in the title race. Adebayor has been impressed with the way Saka has dealt with adversity in his young career and feels this is a part of his maturing process.
“Bukayo gives the impression that he is strong in the head. Such negative experiences will surely bring him further in his maturing process.”
“He is a clever boy who will learn from it, of that I am firmly convinced. He has already proven several times that he can handle pressure very well.”
Jesus needs an injury free season
It is evident that Gabriel Jesus’ return to the Arsenal team has been much needed and welcomed, especially after his knee injury towards the end of last year. Although Jesus has undoubtedly improved the team’s standards, doubts have arisen as to whether he has the clinical finishing ability to lead Arsenal to the league title. However, Adebayor maintains that if Jesus had an injury-free season, he could have been in contention for the league’s top goal scorer award.
“Yes, that would actually be interesting to see him play a season without any worries. His potential is huge. Then you would be able to see if he would be in the fight for the goalscoring crown.
“I honestly have no doubts about that because he’s always capable of scoring goals, he’s ice-cold and he needs fewer and fewer chances to score. He is on a very good path. I am also particularly enthusiastic about one of his teammates.”
Martin Ødegaard’s a joy to watch
Martin Ödegaard has undoubtedly been one of the standout performers in the league this season. His exceptional ball control, sharp vision for a pass, and bravery to receive the ball in congested areas of the pitch make him a crucial player in Mikel Arteta’s style of play. Adebayor has heaped praise on the Norwegian for assuming greater responsibility on the pitch, in addition to his supreme technical skills.
“Martin Ödegaard. It took him a while to find his feet, but he is now one of the regulars under Arteta. He has developed excellently this season. He is taking on more and more responsibility.
“When you see the elegance and understanding of the game, as well as the power and determination with which he directs his team’s play as an attacking midfielder, it is a pure joy to watch him. “
“He has already had many disappointments and setbacks, and the fact that he has always got back up speaks for his strong character. If Arsenal do become champions, he would have a very big part to play in that.”