Arsenal: building a squad to win this year, and again next season.


By Tony Attwood

Last season, as you will well remember Arsenal came in fifth in the league, 24 points away from the top of the table.  

In terms of goal scoring they were sixth.  In terms of defending they were the eight best team.

All of which suggests that the £192m Arsenal invested for this season, has paid off rather well.  For this season there have been six more wins after 29 games, and the club has scored 26 more goals and conceded seven fewer.

So the question arises – is it normal for a club to finish fifth one season to go top the next, or are Arsenal achieving something unique in this campaign?

Actually leaping up the table between one season and the next is more common than one might expect.   In the last ten years, the Premier League winners have only twice retained the title – that being Manchester City winning it in 2018 and 2019 and then again in 2021 and 2022.

Five times the champions have risen from being runners-up the season before.  But at the other extreme, Leicester City were 14th in the season before they won the league, and Chelsea in 2017 rose to the title have been 10th the season before.  

But winning the league doesn’t mean it is all plain sailing the season after.  Manchester United sank to seventh after winning the league in 2013.  Chelsea sank to 10th following the title grab of 2015.

The most likely explanation for such movements is that when a club wins the league it is faced with the challenge of re-motivating the successful squad, while also bringing one or two new players into a squad that feels it has already proved itself to be the best.   And successful teams are, of course, made up not just of individuals, but of the group working together.  The group dynamic that won the title is particularly vulnerable after such success.

What Arsenal will also have to remember (and of course I am sure they will) is that if the club does go on and win the title, they will be beating a Manchester City team that has performed slightly worse than last season than before, and a Manchester City club that seems to have the ability to spend what it wants whenever it wants.

Now of course what we don’t know is how long the legal case against Manchester City which the Premier League is now pursuing is going to last or what the outcome will be.    But it is possible that next season Manchester City will get a points deduction (after all a fine is going to be meaningless since they apparently can have all the money they want).   

But if Manchester City don’t get punished for the transgressions that the League accuse them of, then they will not only start on equal terms with Arsenal in terms of points, but also know that they can go on spending whatever they want, however they want – and they most certainly will.  It is a make-or-break case for FFP.

Arsenal are also getting a small benefit this year from the fact that Manchester City are, at the moment, worse than they were last season, having won two fewer games this season – one being a draw and one a defeat.  So their points total has dropped by five and their goal difference by five – all of which has helped Arsenal.

Meanwhile as you will of course have noticed, two clubs are having notably poor seasons by their recent standards – Leicester City and Chelsea, – and both have moved on their managers in recent days.   They may well both get a new manager bounce for a few matches, but if the normal course of events occurs, that won’t last long.

What they probably both need is a major sorting out of the squad for next season.   Chelsea already own more than two complete squads, so probably all they need is a bit of tinkering and a manager capable of welding the talent together.  Leicester however look to be in a far worse state.

But to go back to the top, what the current situation tells us is that although winning the title is a huge achievement, holding onto the title is even tougher, as it normally means changing a successful format.

However Arsenal’s squad this season is the youngest in the league (equal, rather strangely with Southampton).  That should mean that it ought to be possible to hold that squad together for next season – and see even more improvement.

Which raises the real problem: no sooner has a club won the league than everyone starts thinking about winning it again.  Next season could be as much fun as this!

3 Replies to “Arsenal: building a squad to win this year, and again next season.”

  1. Verily verily, Arsenal will win be crowned EPL 2022/23 champions in this April2023. COYG!!!

  2. Manure’s title challenge ended rather quick….halfway January they were making all kinds of predictions on when they would overtake us at the top of the league…. Okay they got two games in hand but even if they would win both they still would be 16 points behind us….

  3. Arsenal must do their best to keep this squad together. They don’t have to allow the Manchester City of this world to take away the core of the team like they usually did.

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