Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta will be desperate to secure silverware as he bids to restore faith in his rebuilding project during the 2022-23 campaign.
The Gunners appeared on course for a top-four finish last term, but a late collapse caused them to slip down to fifth in the standings. Painful defeats to Spurs and Newcastle emboldened Arteta’s critics, and he will be keen to silence them by leading his team to glory next season.
Can this young Arsenal team seize a trophy? Let’s analyse their chances of success in each competition:
Leicester defied odds of 5000/1 to win the Premier League title in 2016, so you cannot completely write off Arsenal’s chances next term. However, the league has moved on since then, with Man City and Liverpool emerging as arguably the two strongest teams in the competition’s history.
It is very difficult to envisage Arsenal lifting the Premier League trophy next May. They are huge underdogs in the fixed-odds futures betting and spread betting, and deservedly so.
The Gunners finished 24 points behind City last term. City have just signed Erling Haaland, one of the world’s most lethal strikers, so they should be even better next season. Meanwhile, Arsenal are being linked with Gabriel Jesus – a very talented forward, who would be a welcome addition to the team, but nevertheless a player being cleared out to make way for Haaland.
Arsenal were also 23 points behind Liverpool, and it is difficult to see them closing that gap. They face an uphill battle to even finish in the top-four, having not done so since 2016, as Chelsea will be rejuvenated under a new owner and Spurs have seemingly convinced Antonio Conte to stay.
The FA Cup represents Arsenal’s best chance of seizing silverware next season. The Gunners have won the trophy four times in the last nine years, cementing their status as the most successful team in the competition’s history.
They may have struggled in the league in recent years, but they remain capable of beating anyone on their day. That was evident when they beat Man City en route to the final in 2020, and then picked up a 2-1 victory over Chelsea in the final. They also beat the Blues 2-1 in the 2017 final, sparking euphoria among the supporters.
It is a more prestigious competition than the league cup, and Arsenal tend to take it more seriously. Arsene Wenger would always give the youngsters a run-out in the EFL Cup, even in the latter stages, but he would be far more inclined to bring out the big guns in the FA Cup. Arteta has shown the EFL Cup more respect than the Wenger did, but his starting 11s in the early rounds of the FA Cup have featured more first-team players.
Yet there is another reason to suggest that Arsenal are more likely to win the FA Cup than the EFL Cup. Simply put, the EFL Cup concludes in February, whereas the FA Cup ends three months later. By that point, heavyweights like City and Liverpool may be fatigued and distracted by another epic title battle and Champions League commitments. In February, they are still fresh.
For that reason, City won the EFL Cup four years in a row before Liverpool claimed it last season. The FA Cup is a little more open, with Arsenal and Leicester both prevailing in recent years.
Last term, Arsenal suffered a disastrous defeat to Championship side Nottingham Forest in the third round of the FA Cup. That does not look so bad on reflection, as Forest dumped holders Leicester out of the cup, they were unfortunate to lose to eventual winners Liverpool and they ended up securing promotion to the top flight, but it was still painful at the time. They will need to show a lot more urgency next season, but they are certainly in with a chance of success as their young, talented squad matures.
For the reasons laid out above, Arsenal are less likely to win the EFL Cup than the FA Cup next season. However, they still have a decent chance of success.
Arteta’s men went to the semi-finals last season. They held Liverpool to a 0-0 draw at Anfield in the first leg, despite having Granit Xhaka sent off in the 24th minute, but a Diogo Jota brace put them to the sword in the second leg at the Emirates.
Arsenal had the youngest squad in the Premier League last season, with an average age of 24.2 years, so they should be stronger next time around. The likes of Bukayo Saka, Martin Ødegaard, Emile Smith Rowe, Gabriel Martinelli, Ben White, Gabriel Magalhães and Aaron Ramsdale should grow more into their roles, giving Arsenal a strong core. If they make a major leap forward, EFL Cup glory could be forthcoming.
A lack of depth proved to be Arsenal’s main undoing last season. A January clear-out came back to bite the club, as the Gunners were woefully short of bodies during the run-in. Key players Thomas Partey, Kieran Tierney and Takehiro Tomiyasu have been injury-prone, and nobody could effectively deputise for them.
Mohamed Elneny deserves credit for plugging away in Partey’s role, but the less said about Nuno Tavares at left-back, the better. Albert Sambi Lokonga was also disappointing and Cedric Soares has his limitations.
A lack of firepower was another problem, and signing a striker in the wake of Alexandre Lacazette’s departure is Arteta’s number one priority this summer. If they can add a proven goalscorer and significantly bolster their squad depth, there is no reason why Arsenal cannot win the Europa League.
They were unlucky to lose to Atlético Madrid in the semi-finals in Wenger’s final season. They went to the final under Unai Emery the following year, but they had the misfortune of coming up against Eden Hazard in his last game as a Chelsea player. They were beaten semi-finalists in 2021 too, when they faced Emery’s fired-up Villarreal team.
Yet the overall quality in last season’s competition seemed to drop off. Eintracht Frankfurt beat Rangers in the final. Neither is a European heavyweight, and Arsenal would fancy their chances against teams of that ilk.
Much will depend upon Arsenal’s transfer dealings this summer. They were the top spenders in Europe last year. Failure to reach the Champions League may dent their budget this time around, but if they invest wisely, Arsenal could well secure a domestic cup or the Europa League next year.