Can Arsenal take advantage of some rather precarious situations at rival clubs to make their return to the top four this season? Get our Arsenal betting tips and the latest Arsenal betting specials here.
Could the Gunners be set to regain their place in the top four this season? On paper, their squad may not be as strong as Chelsea’s but they should now have more stability after replacing manager Unai Emery with his Spanish compatriot Mikel Arteta – and they can still bring in some new players before the January transfer window shuts. Manchester United also missed out on the top four last season but do not appear to be in a much stronger position to challenge themselves this term.
As such, where Arsenal seemed to be prioritising the Europa League last season before eventually losing out to London rivals Chelsea in the final, this year it may make more sense to concentrate on breaking into the top four, even if they are likely to need more than the 71 points that proved to be enough last season. If they can take advantage of the delicate situations at both Old Trafford and Stamford Bridge, that could be a very realistic aim for Arteta’s men.
It’s fair to say that last season proved to be a transitional campaign for the Gunners. With Unai Emery looking to put his own stamp on a team that had been so moulded in Arsene Wenger’s specific philosophy for many years, there were definite improvements in some areas – but some of the old stumbling blocks still proved to hold the side back at times, namely their struggles for form on the road and occasionally chaotic defensive displays in big games.
Despite losing 13 matches, Tottenham still managed to beat their neighbours to a top-four finish as Emery’s men struggled for consistency themselves and stumbled through the final fixtures of the season, winning just two of their last seven league games. The Europa League provided a welcome distraction at times as they reached the final, enjoying some dramatic comeback victories on the way, but the final proved to be a sorry affair as the men in red and white slipped to a thumping 1-4 defeat against Chelsea in Baku, condemning the club to another campaign of football in Europe’s second-tier continental competition.
After being passed over in favour of Unai Emery following Arsene Wenger’s departure, Mikel Arteta has got the Arsenal job with his second bite of the cherry. It soon became clear that the 37-year-old former Gunners midfielder was the man his former club wanted this time and he evidently felt the same, with a contingent of Arsenal representatives pictured leaving his home in the early hours of the morning when negotiations were still at an embryonic stage.
It’s a big first job for a managerial rookie, but Arteta has spent three-and-a-half years since his retirement as a player learning from Pep Guardiola at Manchester City, latterly as his assistant, and although his first couple of matches in charge of Arsenal did not go to plan, the 2-0 home win over Manchester United on New Year’s Day indicated he was starting to make a positive impact.
The New Arrivals
Arsenal left it late in the summer to make their key transfer signings. But when they did finally spend, they went big – splashing £72million on winger Nicolas Pepe from Lille, £25million on Celtic left-back Kieran Tierney and £8million on surprise arrival David Luiz of Chelsea. In addition, midfielder Dani Ceballos was brought in on loan from Real Madrid.
So far, Pepe has not made the anticipated impact, struggling to break into the team but scoring some important goals when he has. David Luiz has been, well, David Luiz…occasionally erratic, occasionally brilliant, while Tierney and Ceballos have had to contend with injuries. Perhaps the most pleasant surprise for Arsenal fans has come from a less-heralded signing – teenage Brazilian winger Gabriel Martinelli, who has forced his way into the first-team picture and scored eight goals in his first 14 appearances.
The Key Man
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang may have shared the Premier League golden boot with Liverpool duo Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane last season, but Alexandre Lacazette won the club’s Player of the Season award and rightly so. With the Gabonese striker shouldering the majority of the goalscoring burden, Lacazette has been freed up to be a little more creative and drop deeper to get on the ball more.
Alexandre Lacazette’s goals and assists are key (PA Images)
Not only does he have quality on the ball, but Lacazette’s work-rate and willingness to track back and recover the ball has seen the Emirates Stadium faithful take him to heart, plus his ability to fill in a handful of attacking positions on the pitch make him an absolutely key member of Arteta’s squad. If Nicolas Pepe can come good, then Lacazette won’t have quite so much pressure on his shoulders for the rest of the season and will be allowed to play with a little more freedom.
Who will provide the creative spark?
Lacazette and Aubameyang make up one of the best attacking duos in the Premier League but they will need the service if they are to continue threatening defences this season. This is an area in which Arsenal have rarely struggled in the past, but with Aaron Ramsey having left the club to join Juventus on a free transfer this summer, who will provide the link between midfield and attack?
Mesut Ozil has been having something of a resurgence under Arteta and needs to continue that, while Reiss Nelson is another player who has come to the fore since the new manager’s appointment and the 20-year-old is starting to show signs that he can soon fulfil his abundant potential.
Will it be better to place less faith in the Europa League?
Perhaps the Europa League run played some part in Arsenal’s struggles towards the end of the season. We’ve seen time and again how teams can struggle when attempting to balance European football with a run of form in the domestic league and as the Gunners beat Napoli and Valencia in the quarter-finals and semi-finals respectively, we saw their league form start to falter.
Ultimately, it ended up being a fruitless run as Chelsea overcame Arsenal in the Europa League final, condemning them to another year in the competition. Arteta has yet to manage a European fixture, of course, so it may be a risky move to place too much importance on this competition when a top-four finish could still be within reach.
We are backing the Gunners to take advantage of Chelsea and Manchester United to finish higher this season. United are struggling to bring in top-class players and still appear to be a mess off the field. All three of United, Chelsea and Arsenal now have inexperienced managers at the top level, but there could be heaps of improvement in the Gunners under Arteta and we are backing him to lead the club back to the Champions League where they desperately desire to be.
Although it’s fair to say this Arsenal side doesn’t carry the same swagger and confidence of previous iterations, we do think they have enough to climb above Chelsea and Manchester United to earn a top-four finish in this campaign and as such, that’s our Arsenal bet for the remainder of the season, particularly at tempting odds of 12/1 with Paddy Power.
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Arsenal FC Tips & Betting Specials 2019/2020
After just missing out on the Champions League via both the Premier League and Europa League routes last season, can Arsenal take advantage of some rather precarious situations at rival clubs to make their return to the top four this season?