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Post-Season Reaction To Arsenal Pre-season predictions

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The 2021-2022 football season finally wrapped up this weekend. The Premier League has finished. The Champions League has been decided and the Championship promotion playoffs has also finished. Congratulations to the teams who secured silverware this season.

Prior to the start of the season some of the YAMA writers made their predictions on how the season would fair. Since we’ve finally wrapped it up, its time to look back and see how each writer fared in their prognostications.

Season Predictions – post-season predictions

Justin Fisher: @jtfisher34

League Position: 6th (65 pts)

Top Goal Scorer: Nicolas Pepe (15 goals)

Breakout Player: Nicolas Pepe

Why I’m Excited:

The clearing out which started last winter saw Arteta get rid of players who clearly did not want to play for the club anymore. While this may need to continue, there is no longer an influential swath of the locker room bringing down the morale of the locker room. There is a reason the likes of Bukayo Saka, and Emile Smith-Rowe are already beloved by fans, myself included- they play with a passion and desire to represent Arsenal in a way we haven’t seen in a long time. Even Martin Ødegaard and Aaron Ramsdale (an Arsenal fan from his youth), during their first official interviews showed genuine excitement to play for Arsenal. My expectations for the season are low, so more than anything I am excited to watch the Saka and Smith-Rowe continue to develop into superstars alongside the young core we now have.

End of season review:

Reading back on my prediction, I am actually pretty surprised at how close I got to being accurate. Clearly I was very high on Nicolas Pepe (we can overlook this, we all make mistakes) heading into the season which as we know couldn’t have been further from the truth. I made the cheeky prediction of “while this may need to continue” with regards to continuing a locker room clearout, I certainly did not expect that to include Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang at all. I think that took most Arsenal fans by surprise. Looking back on this season, one of my biggest takeaways is how the connection between the fans and the club has been restored and that is in large part due to the passion for Arsenal that so many of our players have shown. Aaron Ramsdale quickly became a fan favorite and his character on the pitch was palpable. Even though I called out ESR and Saka’s development as my reason to be excited’ I dont think even I expected their goal scoring output and general performances to be as good as they were all season long.

Morgan Ofori: @CruciateBlog

League Position: 6th (64 points)

Top Goalscorer: Nicolas Pepe

Breakout Player: Albert Sambi Lokonga

Why I’m excited:

All indicators point to an Arsenal that wishes to play higher up the pitch and be more dangerous, as well as create more chances, albeit in a structured conservative manner that suits Arteta to the ground. Whether that’s the arsenal that we see with our eyes this season or not, the profile of players being trusted and brought to the club suggests before long that will be the norm. Ben White- a premier league proven ball playing Bielsa disciple, Tavares- a rangy powerful, capable Tierney back up, as well as links to upgrades in the Goalkeeper position at this time of writing (I won’t mention any names), there is a focus on improving in the positions that hampered Arsenal last year plus the arrivals are all under 23, which bodes well for the future. The player I believe will benefit from the instability of Arsenal’s midfield is Sambi Lokonga, composed, progressive, with a track record of leadership, if Matteo Guendouzi can make 23 starts in his debut season at arsenal coming from the French second division, then the former Anderlecht captain is capable of similar. This is Nicolas Pepe’s third year at Arsenal, there are no more excuses and the Ivorian has begun to show glimpses of his undoubtable talent. I’m backing Pepe to shine brightest in what may be a testing season for Arsenal and Arteta.

End of Season Review:

Looking back at this review, I do think we saw a more dangerous Arsenal and one that is more front-footed. Ben White played almost every Premier league game and has assumed the role of technical leader and looks more assured every day. Such was the scorn that met the news of Arsenal potentially signing Aaron Ramsdale, I chose not to address him by name! However, how wrong were any of us to write him off? One of the best goalkeepers in the division and will only get better. Takehiro Tomiyasu was the signing of the season and getting a capable backup for him may become imperative in the close season. So we were a place higher and 5 points better off than I predicted. All in all a constructive year for Mikel Arteta’s men, one I feel he would have learned lessons from. Eddie Nketiah and Mo Elneny showing they can be capable back ups shouldn’t turn Arsenal off from upgrading and improving the team with genuine quality. The big error on my part was expecting so much from Nicolas Pepe. I’m afraid he has been a disaster of a signing. Wrong style of play, heavy price tag, and maybe just not good enough compared with what is expected. The expectation is if Arsenal are upgrading the attack then the likes of Lacazette and Pepe are the sacrificial lambs. This summer, the North Londoners must set down a marker.

Dope Gooner: @dopegooner

League Position: 5th (67 points)

Top Goalscorer: Nicolas Pépé

Breakout Player: Gabriel Martinelli

Why I’m Excited:

We’re all bummed out by the current results of this summer’s transfer window. Hopefully that won’t be the case in a couple weeks’ time. However, there is one big reason to be excited (thanks, Josh Kroenke, for making that phrase forever unclean): the players. Specifically, the young core of players that Mikel Arteta is building at Arsenal. Between Bukayo Saka, Emile Smith Rowe, Gabriel Martinelli, Kieran Tierney, Gabriel, Ben White, Albert Sambi Lokonga, Folarin Balogun, Nuno Tavares, and hopefully Miguel Azeez as well, there will be plenty of gifted players 24 and under donning the red and white this season. While more senior players like Thomas Partey and Nicolas Pépé will also provide some excitement, watching how the younger talents develop and gel will serve as the underlying narrative Gooners might need to get through the season.

End of season Review:

This is very much one of the better set of predictions I made. We finished two points better than I thought we would, but in the position in the table I expected. This one’s up for debate, but I do think Martinelli had a bit of a breakout season in 2021-22. He didn’t light the world on fire, but 13 goal contributions in 36 appearances is encouraging. The acquisition of a left-sided eight should bring out even more in him next season. I was very much right about the narrative of our campaign being observing how our core group of U-24 players gelled and grew together, and about that being enthralling enough to keep us engaged throughout the season. Getting to know those players and watching them fight for each other and the badge made them so easy to root for. Many of us found ourselves falling back in love with the club this last year, and at least part of that is assuredly down to how we feel about those players. What I was definitely, woefully wrong about was Nicolas Pépé being our top scorer. Pépé finished the season with just three goals, while Saka, the man who took his spot from him, ended the season as Arsenal’s top scorer. Not all the blame should be laid at Pépé’s feet; Arteta used him sparingly and inconsistently. But even when Pépé did make an appearance, he looked disconnected. It just hasn’t worked out, and I hope he gets an opportunity to reset his career through a move this summer.

Rasmus Pabst: @GamingPabst

League Position: 6th (64 points)

Top Goalscorer: Nicolas Pepe

Breakout Star: Ben White

Why I’m excited:

It’s strange to say that I’m excited to watch how Arsenal will build up when in possession. But honestly that’s the point I’m at right now. It’s very clear there’s something wrong with the current energy and movement during the early build-up phase, and hoofing it up to Aubameyang would be working… 5 years ago. Today, with the modernized CB being quicker, more nimble and better on the ball, Arsenal have to do the initial stuff much better than they have been doing so far. With the players that have been purchased during the summer transfer window, there’s hints of a plan to work harder on the very early build up, which worked very well for Arteta and Arsenal in the first half of last season. I’m very excited to watch Ben White and how he manages to break the mold left by David Luiz on how to play as a front footed, ball playing defender. I’m also excited to see if Arteta and Pépé have finally found the balance in position and movement, as he has the potential to be a consistent goal scorer with the right deck of cards at his disposal. With football staying relatively in England, this is also the chance for Arsenal to reset and rewatch, focusing on sanding down the edges of the heavy 4×4 that is this squad, making it much smoother and easier to manage without receiving the unwanted splinters of £5m/y wage players finding sanctum at not being good enough to sell.

End of season review:

So yeah, Pepe did not, in fact, become top goal scorer. I think we all expected him to get an extended run after the form he closed last season with. Personally I had expected him to get more chances through the middle. But after the display he showed against Leeds and Newcastle, you could understand the lack of trust Arteta has had. I’m happy that I predicted Ben White to be this season’s breakout star. You could argue the likes of Ødegaard, Saka, Martinelli, Tomiyasu and Nketiah all had breakout seasons, but I do think we looked some levels below average without White on the pitch. The fact that he also had the ability to sub in for our right back on occasions was class as well. I’m most surprised with the fact that I saw this season as a chance to sand down the squad now we had all our top earners done – and then Aubameyang, our top earner, leaves on a free as well. In the end, we ended a position higher than I expected – with more points than predicted. That’s a positive.

 

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