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As is usual at Arsenal, things have been very entertaining and a complete mess. And, in 2020, they’ve managed to outdo themselves, rounding out the last 12 months with an unprecedented level of nonsense.
But was it that bad?
Best Player: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
Sure, he may not have been at the top of his game since the start of the new season, but there’s no question who Arsenal’s talisman was at the end of last season.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang came within one goal of winning a second consecutive Premier League Golden Boot, behind Jamie Vardy. Furthermore, his final FA Cup double secured his first silver in North London.
We imagine it won’t be long until the former Borussia Dortmund player is back at his best.
Best Game – Arsenal 2-1 Chelsea
Entering the game as an underdog, Arsenal secured their fourth FA Cup in seven years after defeating fellow Londoners Chelsea.
The Gunners didn’t get off to a perfect start to the game, falling behind in the fifth minute with Christian Pulisic ending. However, what followed was a magnificent performance from the star man Aubameyang.
The Gabonese striker equalized from the penalty spot after being brought down by César Azpilicueta, then scored the winning goal in the second half, passing Kurt Zouma before lifting the ball over Willy Caballero.
Worst game – Arsenal 1-2 Olympiacos
After winning the away game 1-0, Arsenal entered the second leg of the Europa League round of 32 against Olympiacos as strong favorites to qualify for the next stage.
Things did not materialize as planned for the Gunners. Center-back Pape Cisse pocketed in the second half to take the tie into extra time. However, an exceptional acrobatic effort by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang seemed to seal Arsenal’s progression to the round of 16.
With only injury time remaining, Olympiacos regained the lead thanks to Youssef El-Arabi’s shot from close range. But there was still time for one last heartbreak, as Aubameyang missed a glorious opportunity in the final seconds that would have ushered Arsenal through.
Overall, pretty good.
Brazilian center back Gabriel Magalhaes has looked impressive in the heart of the defense since he arrived, while the acquisition of Thomas Partey was a true declaration of intent. And while they aren’t exactly superstars, Pablo Mari and Cedric Soares have done a solid job at the Emirates.
Arsenal fans may be a bit upset to see Emiliano Martinez leave, especially given how well he has done at Aston Villa. However, getting up to £ 20 million for a player who was a second choice before the lockdown is a decent deal.
Despite this, they still do not have a recognized creative midfielder in their ranks. Willian just hasn’t made an impact since joining a free transfer, and no one else has been hired to service his forwards.
Mesut Ozil meanwhile is in the stock with an estimated £ 350k a week. Not finding a suitor for the German playmaker while eating his budget is a notable failure of the Arsenal board.
How has the manager been?
The wildly unpopular Unai Emery was fired as Arsenal boss in November 2019, and was soon replaced by Mikel Arteta, who would land his first job as a manager.
Arteta’s first year has been mixed. When he took office, Arsenal were tenth. They finished the season in the eighth. While some progress was made, the gunners would still be waiting a bit longer.
Furthermore, the start of the 2020/21 season has been nothing short of a horror show. A recent three-game winning streak has helped defuse the tension, but there was a point when Arteta’s team was considered a genuine relegation candidate.
However, the Spaniard has had some success, lifting the FA Cup in August. Guiding his team to victory against Manchester City and Chelsea deserves some credit. However, many wonder if it was the coach or the individual brilliance of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who scored a double in both games.
Well, while the form of the league has been absolutely miserable, it cannot be argued with a piece of silver. That’s more than almost every team in the country got their hands on in 2020.
However, as mentioned, Arsenal’s Premier League results have been some of the worst we’ve seen from the North London side in decades. If Arteta doesn’t change it soon, then his time may end.
Nonetheless, the recent run of results is encouraging and the introduction of talented youngsters is a step in the right direction. Things should get better for the Gunners in 2021.