After missing out on a Champions League spot last season under the most disappointing circumstances, an end of the season capitulation saw the Gunners pipped by fierce north London rivals Tottenham to a top-four finish.
Arsenal have now gone six seasons without playing in Europe’s top-tier competition and there is every motivation this time around to get back into the Champions League.
For the second summer in succession, the Gunners have gone well above the £100m mark in spending, as at the time of writing. If reports are to go by, they could still complete one more signing before the transfer window ends.
Arsenal have not just signed players for the fun of it but have seemingly made additions that have strengthened their squad significantly. Club director Edu Gaspar has used his South American influence to help pull players to the Emirates Stadium, notably Brazilian names.
This time around, Arsenal fans have everything to be positive around and there is a feel-good factor around the club as they head into the 2022/23 Premier League season.
What are the targets for Arsenal this season? What can they achieve after the new additions? Our season preview will answer all of those questions.
First, let’s take a look at Arsenal’s transfer business so far, as at the time of writing.
Arsenal Summer 2022 transfers
- Fabio Vieira (£29.9m, joined from Porto)
- Matt Turner (Undisclosed fee, joined from New England Revolution)
- Marquinhos (Undisclosed fee, joined from Sao Paulo)
- Oleksandr Zinchenko (£30m, joined from Manchester City)
- Gabriel Jesus (£45m, joined from Manchester City)
- Alexandre Lacazette (Free, to Lyon)
- Bernd Leno (£8m, to Fulham)
- Konstantinos Mavropanos (Undisclosed, to Stuttgart)
- Matteo Guendouzi (£9m, to Marseille)
- Omari Hutchinson (Undisclosed, to Chelsea)
- Nuno Tavares (Loan, to Marseille)
- Charlie Patino (Loan, to Blackpool)
- Folarin Balogun (Loan, to Reims)
If there was a trophy based on pre-season activity alone, then Arsenal would have claimed the biggest one in that regard. In six pre-season games where Arsenal’s ‘starting XI’ played, the Gunners won all of them. They didn’t just win but did so in style as well, as they scored at least three goals in all of those games bar a 2-0 victory over Everton.
If that isn’t enough, four of the six victories also witnessed at least four goals scored by Arsenal alone, including a 4-0 thrashing of Premier League rivals Chelsea and a 6-0 rout against La Liga side Sevilla in the Emirates Cup to wrap up their pre-season campaign.
Scoring goals was fun to watch for head coach Mikel Arteta and Arsenal fans all over the world but it was even more fun to see new signing Gabriel Jesus fit in at the club almost immediately. Boasting a lot of Premier League experience to his name from his time at Manchester City, the Brazilian scored on his pre-season debut and never looked back. In total, the 25-year-old scored a respectable seven pre-season goals, including a hat-trick against Sevilla.
Asides Gabriel Jesus, Oleksandr Zinchenko was another promising signing and showed composure right from his very debut against Chelsea. Arsenal fans will have to wait much longer to see Fabio Vieira in action though, with the Portuguese midfielder currently nursing a foot injury and on his way to full recovery.
Away from attack and switching to the back, William Saliba was the bright spot that got fans excited. Having returned from loan, the young Frenchman has shown he is ready for first team football and Arteta now knows he has another quality name to call upon should either Gabriel Magalhães or Ben White falter or perhaps pick up an injury.
Realistic targets for the 2022/23 season
Injuries affected Arsenal a lot last season, especially towards the end of the campaign. Players like Thomas Partey and Kieran Tierney suffered injuries and in their absence, a notable lack of quality depth in the Arsenal squad was exposed. The Gunners’ transfer activity looks to have solved that problem and that will surely help the club’s cause in the coming season.
Arsenal have surely improved their squad but we can all agree that other sides have done the same as well. If the Community Shield between Manchester City and Liverpool was anything to go by, we can expect that those two will be their usual dominating selves this time around.
As earlier mentioned, Arsenal fans should be excited for the new season but there should be a sense of realism to go with as well.
On the domestic front, a realistic target for Arsenal should be a top-four spot at the very least. Yes other teams have strengthened but so did the Gunners. When you consider that Arsenal have come close over the past two seasons and agonizingly close last term, there is a sense that those quality additions this time around can give them the firepower to achieve that goal.
Arsenal have never been really strong in the Carabao Cup (League Cup) so there is really no expectation on that front, especially for the fact that many top sides usually see that competition as an avenue to field youngsters. However, not many can boast a FA Cup pedigree as prestigious as the Gunners and they should aim to reach the semi-finals this time around after suffering a rather early exit by their own standards last time out.
In Europe is where things get interesting. Arsenal might not be in the Champions League but maybe the Europa League is a blessing in disguise. For obvious reasons, it would be much easier to win this competition and Arsenal have shown they can do so, having reached the final and semi final on separate occasions in the past four seasons.
The Europa League winner also gets an automatic Champions League ticket so that should come as another incentive and something of a second route to return to Europe’s top-tier club competition.
Players to watch out for
None of Arsenal’s summer signings have excited fans like the arrival of Jesus. In no time at all, the Brazilian has developed a proper chemistry with his teammates and is already enjoying life at the Emirates. The growing South American contingent at Arsenal has also helped him settle almost immediately, making him the third ‘Gabriel’ and the fourth Brazilian at the club, alongside fellow summer signing Marquinhos.
Jesus has already scored seven goals in pre-season so there is no question of what he brings to the Arsenal side and what he can do. It is a matter of replicating that form when the season begins proper.
Don’t get too excited and think he will win the golden boot but one thing is sure and it’s the fact that he will score goals in good numbers. His flexibility and versatility upfront also offers Arteta a lot to work with and I’m backing him to get at least 15-20 goals across all competitions this season. We can expect more but that’s a modest number to go with, right?
Arsenal fans are yet to see Fabio Vieira in action so it’s only speculation to say he’ll be a hit at the Emirates. However, given how the club moved in silence to complete his transfer and also given the transfer fee, it’s safe to say they know what he can offer in that regard.
Like Jesus, the Portuguese also offers some versatility, boasting the ability to play through the center and on the flanks. We might not see much of him in the Premier League but he could be a mainstay in cup competitions and the Europa League.
The Frenchman is yet to make a competitive appearance for Arsenal despite signing for the club in 2019. However, he looks ready for first-team action after his most recent loan stint at Marseille and he could end up looking like a ‘new signing’ this term. Courtesy of Takehiro Tomiyasu’s injury, Saliba has featured often in pre-season, with Ben White playing at right-back.
Coincidental or not but Arsenal did not concede whenever the Frenchman was on the pitch. Mikel Arteta has described him as ‘one for the future’ and he could yet stake a claim to be a designated first-team player.
Prediction for the season
On paper, Arsenal look much stronger than last season but we all know that games are won on the pitch and not on paper. There is no question of quality but the question remains whether Arsenal will be resilient enough to register as many good performances in the course of the campaign. Last season, the Gunners had the lowest points from losing positions out of all other Premier League sides. That shows something of a mentality issue and if it isn’t fixed, there could be another similar capitulation once again.
Arsenal should now aim to win games early and also kill them off as well. The arrival of Gabriel Jesus should result to more goals upfront and that will come as a welcome positive. Compared to last season, the Gunners now have some reliable replacements that would count as good quality depth in the case of burnout, injury or needed tactical tweaks.
Other teams have equally improved but Arsenal look much better as a unit on and off the pitch and there’s no reason why they can’t better their achievements from last season in the 2022/23 campaign.
Premier League Prediction – 4th
Europa League Prediction – Semifinals at the very least