Arsenal’s Squad Gambles Haven’t Paid Off
By Space Coast Daily // May 19, 2022
A hallmark of Arsenal’s 2021-22 season has been their consistent inconsistency. Last summer was a period of renewal in North London. Young blood was injected into the squad, while underperformers were cut adrift. In the time since, it’s been a topsy turvy league campaign for the Gunners.
A regular feature of Mikel Arteta’s side has been their inability to continue a run of form, providing a real challenge for punters on sites like Betdaq. The North London side have strung together runs of wins when everything has clicked. However, their league campaign has screeched to a halt on more than one occasion, with a single injury proving enough to derail their progress.
The lack of quality depth in Arsenal’s squad has been a key factor in their struggles. They have no real replacement for Thomas Partey, with Mohamed Elneny a squad player at best while Sambi Lokonga has been unable to realise his potential so far. Arsenal decided not to sign a midfielder in January, opting not to contest the transfer of Bruno Guimarães to Newcastle.
In defence, Arsenal have two reliable full-backs in Takehiro Tomiyasu and Kieran Tierney, but their backups have been found wanting at points during the season. Nuno Tavares is still raw, while Cédric Soares just isn’t good enough. Rob Holding has done a fine job helping Arsenal see games out, but the team have suffered when he has started. The central defender isn’t comfortable enough in a high line to deputise for Gabriel or Benjamin White.
In attack, Arsenal face similar problems. Saka, Martinelli, Smith Rowe, and Ødegaard have all made a difference at times, but they’ve struggled to perform across the length of an entire campaign, with little help at the top end of the pitch. Nicolas Pépé has offered virtually nothing throughout his entire Arsenal career, and Arteta has been reluctant to turn to him on a regular basis.
Having cancelled the contract of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in January, Arsenal looked to see the season out with Alexandre Lacazette and Eddie Nketiah up front. An ill-fated pursuit of Dušan Vlahović in January did little to help, while talks for Alexander Isak didn’t end in a signing. The Gunners have paid the price for that decision, struggling to hold the ball in attack, and looking completely incapable of scoring at times.
Arsenal’s thin squad, and the inexperience of their team, has left them vulnerable to the trials and tribulations of a Premier League season. During Arsène Wenger’s time at the club, one of the Frenchman’s key strengths was finding a way of ensuring that one loss doesn’t turn into a run of defeats, and that’s a skill that Arteta is yet to master.
Squad depth has been Arsenal’s undoing for much of the season, with the club hierarchy opting for a more radical overhaul in the summer, and failing to strengthen in January. It was always a risk, and that decision has come back to bite Arsenal at times, with Arteta’s inexperience tested by the demands of a squad stretched to their limit.
All that being said, there are reasons for optimism in North London. Arsenal were never considered likely candidates for finishing in the top four, and have already exceeded expectations this season. A new centre forward, coupled with a stronger midfield, will raise Arsenal’s level, while depth signings will ensure that injuries aren’t so crippling in future.