Sunday, July 14, 2024

Arteta: We did more than expected

Defeat to Newcastle may mean Champions League qualification is out of Arsenal’s hands heading into the final game of the season but for all the pain and frustration of Monday’s result, Mikel Arteta believes his players will come to recognise the progress they’ve made this season.

After two years of finishing eighth in the Premier League, the Gunners are guaranteed European football next season and won’t finish lower than fifth in the standings. Given the extensive surgery conducted on the squad last summer, the way the new-look squad has gelled bodes well for the future.

“In a week’s time when we are all on holiday and we look back at what we’ve done, whether we are in the Champions League or the Europa League, I think everybody will agree that we did more than was expected,” he told BBC Football Focus.

Giving Arteta a particular reason for optimism is the squad’s average age. The manager has consistently fielded the youngest starting XI in the Premier League and says the players should be lauded for their efforts against more experienced competition.

“They have shown what it takes [to compete for the Champions League] because what they’ve done, in the last 10 seasons nobody has done it, a club, a team with that age bracket starting XI that we have put on the pitch, it hasn’t been done in this league.

“It’s something they’ve done and that’s credit to the team for what they have delivered. The thing is, where we want to be is not where we are today, we want to be the best and that gap is still really big.”

Alongside progress on the pitch, Arteta believes there’s a growing togetherness behind the scenes and a strengthened bond with supporters. Having identified issues on both fronts when he took over in December 2019, he’s keen to play up the repair work that’s taken place.

“We’ve come a long way in many things, especially who we are as a club and the connection between what we are doing and how our people feel about what we are doing.

“That’s really important as well and it takes a long time to build that trust.”

We’ll hear more from Arteta later this afternoon when he faces the media in his final pre-game press conference of the season.

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Certainly I didn’t expect it. CL would have been great but for a squad in its early stages of development Europa league is perfect. Integrating players like Saliba (Who looked great in France but nobody can tell for sure how fast he or any new signing kicks up in the premier league apart from the battalion about to attack me for this) and the other new shiny signings. It also offers plenty of minutes to fringe players they can’t get with CL and premier league so they are ready when needed. With two years experience of this team together If… Read more »

A Different George

Be sure to stand in the same spot and order the same drinks.


I feel taking in his [so far apparent] transparency, and measure of the players, fans, he has done a tremendous job. The financial criticisms should NOT be solely placed on him. Although, having made the decision to keep the squad thin after Jan, even underusing available subs for game time should have been addressed by him / maybe accepted as his mistake [as a learning process inspite of being a inexperienced coach]
Then again, I always ponder without those red cards [damn refs], Fit players like Tierney & Partey – Would they have crossed the CL qual line.


If we did more than we expected, it’s only because we let go of our only recognised goal scorer in January without replacement! We then subsequently under utilised Pepe, probably our next potent forward. If we’ve overachieved, it begs the question; how do we define success and failure at Arsenal next season?

Kentish Gooner

I think success has to be based on beating teams outside the ‘top six’. There were way too many points lost against teams we technically should be winning against. And a FAR better ‘goals for’ record.


I think one of our biggest issues is our inability to rescue points when we go behind. 3 draws and 13 defeats says it all really, and it’s down to a lack of firepower. Who could have seen that coming after letting Auba go without replacement…?


To be fair loose the lack of fire power has been all season, Eddie has scored as many League goals in his recent little run as Auba had before he left in January, when he eventually got past Laca (who has scored the same 4 all season) as Auba’s replacement. We had a mini purple patch of goals (14 in 4 wins) just after Auba was left out against Everton, goals coming from Saka & ESR mainly over the season, which may or may not be significant. Also out of our 13 losses 6 were before the January window opened,… Read more »

Alan Sunderland

Aubameyang had chucked it in mate, he probably had a deal with Barcelona since last summer. He did the same thing at Dortmund.

Morrisey fan #1

That recognized goal scorer wasn’t doing much scoring and looked like he wasn’t going to do any. That move was best for the Arsenal and him.


That’s all well and good, but we didn’t replace him, that’s my point. Spurs strengthened, we didn’t, and now we are where we are. And this happens at Arsenal season after season. It is maddening!

A Different George

I don’t understand comments about other teams strengthened but not Arsenal. I guess you only count the January window then. Because in the last summer window we got four first-choice players, all young. Of course we need a striker, and if we gotten an experienced (ie, not young) attacker–proven but available (ie, not a top choice) it might (or might not–Willian fits that description pretty well) have helped this season. But unless you have genuinely unlimited funds, that’s not how you build a team that will contend for titles in the future. My model is not Spurs and Conte, it… Read more »


No doubt. There was no other means to divest ourselves of £350k/wk wage packet. We weren’t getting much return on it– so free it up to sign who we want this Summer.


Arteta’s comments irk me a bit. Yes after 3 games nobody would have expected top 4, but it’s his failures since January that leave us 5th.
Man United, spuds and even Chelsea have tried their hardest to throw away points. We could easily have been 3rd if he had sorted the Auba situ or found a suitable replacement.
It feels very much like when we managed to lose the league to Leicester the year everyone else was in transition. Next year will be so much harder to qualify for 4th even with reinforcements.


Exactly, it was in our hands, we had a horribly complacent January, and we’ve fumbled it.

I don’t know if next season will necessarily be harder, at least two of the other big 6 usually have an unexpectedly bad season. United and Chelsea are rebuilding, Spurs will likely strengthen but not sure by how much. There will be a chance for us, but we have to abandon the complacency of January and actually go for it.


I believe it was a collective decision which the board was on board with and do we think they didn’t evaluate it and went bonkers? The thing is they set a target for the team considering the resources they had and it has been met by the team. That is why Mikel got the new contract.

Reiss Neverseen & El Dicteta

Precisely. No one expected Leicester to win the league in 15/16. Using the prevailing narrative, LCFC should have just been satisfied with European qualification and not a title push because they “did more than expected”.

Eric Blair

But it was Arteta who got us into that position after losing the first 3 games with the youngest team in the PL and a small squad that was always going to suffer when injuries happened.

I’m not at all worried about other teams strengthening, Man City have sewn up the league with Haaland but we were never challenging for that anyway. Apart from Man City and Liverpool all the other teams should be looking at us and worrying where we will strengthen.


I admire your optimism. I just think we really fluffed it, and whether he likes it or not that’s on the manager a lot more than just the players


We did much more than expected – and yet Arteta is being lambasted by the media – even though we STILL haven’t officially finished in 5th and have an outside chance of 4th going into the final day. In stark contrast, I’ve just had to switch off ‘Good Morning Sports Fans’ for fear of throwing up my breakfast; such is the sickly way the Sky reporters are fawning over Lampard and Everton FOR AVOIDING RELEGATION. Note too, the media witch hunt already gathering pace on Patrick Vieira for him reacting to verbal abuse by Evertonian scum bag cretin. The supporter… Read more »

A Different George

Four teams have badly underperformed this season: Leicester and Leeds (both seriously impacted by major injuries to key players), Everton (who many predicted would challenge for top four) and Man United. The last two are structurally shambolic. You can count Chelsea too–they will finish third, but a distant third, when everyone expected a title challenge. We have also had major injuries, key personnel losses (for whatever reason) and yet have done significantly better than anybody predicted at the beginning of the season. We have integrated four new (young) starters and continued the development of the young players we already had… Read more »


Yea. Must hurt them that Viera is a way better manager and tactician. Absolute scum.


I think he’s saying what he’s got to say recognising the need to keep morale up after what’s happened in the last two fixtures. Honestly though, I think we all recognise that where you finish in the league is always relative not just to what you do but what the opposition does. Spurs were able to salvage their season through Conte and the January window, United weren’t, but both woefully underperformed against their historics. Chelsea looked a cut above the 3 of us most of the year but their season has rather fizzled out. So while our league position is… Read more »


I’m personally less concerned about letting opportunities pass us by, because if we recruit intelligently we can put ourselves in pole position at the beginning of the season. My worry is that the January window suggests complacency still runs rampant at the club, and that’s what could cost us this summer.

Alan Sunderland

I think they done the right thing in January. They couldn’t get the player they wanted so didn’t panic and buy a player that wasn’t good enough going forward. It would have been stupid to repeat the lacazette aubameyang mistake.


I respect your opinion but I don’t buy it was either/or. Liverpool got Diaz, Spurs got Kulesveski and Bentancur. Those weren’t panic buys.

Walter White

This team will grow though. We have young talented players that most likely will improve year after year as they get older and more experienced. Next year, I think the team will be much more settled and experienced, especially if we add two or three quality signings. As to the other teams around us: if Conte stays, Spurs will probably improve if they can handle his intensity. So that sucks. United though, what can we expect and how long before they come good? Chelsea as well are losing key players in their defence and with new owners, they might not… Read more »


Sp*s didnt “underperform against their historics” what are you on about? Have you heard of the history of the tottenham?

Knowing Arsenal, the results this weekend will be;
Norwich 1-0 Sp*ds,
Arsenal 0-0 Everton.


Don’t. Though I think I fear the 95th Tottenham equaliser from a soft pen even more.

Emi Rates

Remember the season we finished second because Spuds went to an ailing Newcastle who destroyed them on the last day of the PL. Oh how we laughed!


There was a great bit of ‘commentary’ of the goals from that game, made by a West Ham fan. It went viral at the time, but I have been unable to find it online again, more’s the pity. Anyone on here have the link.

Just as hilarious as Tottenham’s defending is the laughter from the ‘commentator.’

”Oh no, please, no more, not again” he says, before dissolving into hysterical mirth again as a rampant Newcastle break and score their fifth.

Man I would love to see that link again.


the opposite and we still come out 5th on GD


You must be joking. This is not why we gave Arteta a new contract with a few games to go. Most equal losses, one of our lowest goal difference, I can just about see progress if I squint my eyes and tilt my head a bit. We are stuck in purgatory.


If you see finishing 5th as “purgatory” then you’re probably right. With cash swilling around City, Chelsea and now Newcastle, and the fact that Liverpool and Utd will always be significant competition, finishing 5th is about par for us now.

We’ll sometimes finish 8th we’ll sometimes finish 2nd and I’d hope that every 20-30 years we can sneak a title just as Liverpool have just done.

It was a painful end to this season sure, but if you can’t derive any pleasure from this one it’s going to be a long slog from here.

Public Elneny

The main reason I didn’t expect top 4 at the start of the season was because we had Mikel Arteta as manager

Martin R

Please tell me any available manager who could have improved as much as Arteta has. In 2 and a half years we’ve won a major trophy. We’ve seen the incredible progress of Saka, ESR, and Martinelli. Made some greats signings such as Partey, Gabriel, Tomiyasu and Odegaard. The future looks bright with about 3 top signings coming in, including a class striker. The reason I am so optimistic about the team is because of Arteta.

Santi’s Thigh Grab

Arteta is the KSE project. They trust him to bring the club success over the long term. Their evaluation of the manager is on a longer time horizon than most online supporters are willing to give him.

We have shown improvement this season with our first 11, but we are not that competitive when they are injured and we play the next group of players. We have to improve the quality of the squad depth this summer with players who can compete for the starters position.

Kentish Gooner

I genuinely didn’t think we’d even get into Europa League at the start of the season so to JUST miss out on CL qualification is better than expected in my head. I’m still not entirely convinced by the whole ‘trust the process’ thing, even though there have definitely been some noticeable improvements. It’s all on who we sign in the summer, and who stays fit throughout the next season. We need Partey, White, Gabriel, Tierney all fit for a solid season if we’re going to crack that top four. Plus our young guns, and some new goal scorers. Very intrigued… Read more »


“We need Partey, White, Gabriel, Tierney all fit for a solid season”
might as well wish for mbappe.

Cranky Colin

What frightened me most v Newcastle, was how they physically outmuscled us. It was horrible.
Lampshades men will go physical on Sunday, and we haven’t a prayer.
( unless of course the referee isn’t bullied as well)


First of all i wanna congratulate the lads .having come this far.i for once never thought we will be fighting for top 4 after seeing the direction of the club in using a young squad after unfruitful years with experience n old wenger once said.wen u play this young lads u risk loosing point n so on.but they have shown good sign .which is good .i feel hurt that we wont be playing CL cuz i was hoping we play CL so we can attract some good signing .but whoever comes now will come to fight for the badge… Read more »

Szczesny Hawkes

More than expected? What mediocrity was he tasked with achieving after his 8th place finish then? Imo Europa League was the bare minimum that should have been expected from this team in a season with no European football and the money that was spent in summer. Considering the way the teams around us performed and the position we found ourselves in this half of the season I would argue that the team massively underperformed by not securing 4th. We’re not worse than Newcastle, palace, Southampton etc who we lost against to mess this up. Artetas poor squad management cost us… Read more »


europa is now also a trophy.
soon it will be conference league.


Everyone around us fell apart to some extent, that’s why we got fifth. Losing to Southampton, Newcastle, Palace, Brighton when we where so close is actually unbelievable. If we went for a striker in January we’d have got top four and said striker would have paid for himself. This one still stings


Yes hate to moan but really our position is as much a factor of Spurs and MU having underperformed as much as it us overperforming. The lure factor and extra cash the CL could have provided would have accelerated the team forward, but realistically, with Thursday games thrown in, getting even 5th next year might be a struggle.


Yes, unless we strengthen in all departments. This was a good opportunity to get CL. Next year it will be more difficult!!


Never expected top 4 but the Arteta fan boys did. The summer transfer window was crap(did we reallly add any top class players from the previous season?)and jan transfer window was even worse. This is going to happen next season with Poundland Pep


We got to win the fucking Europa League next season. No two things about it.


News is that Spuds have already awarded a penalty


We did more than expected? How? We were out of Europe, out of the cups by January, and only had one game a week for the vast majority of the season. The absolute bare minimum expectation was that being out of Europe and being able to “fully concentrate” on the league would result in a top 4 finish. So, after having had Champions League qualification in our own hands and then blown it in such spectacular fashion, it takes massive cojones to come out and say you have done better than expected when you have failed to meet your minimum… Read more »


Mr Arteta only needs to convince those who are hanging onto his groin by their mouths.


agreed but the Areteta fan boys will come with their excuses…


Thing is in this country the media always loves to take extremes. At the start of the season we’re branded relegation contenders, now bottle-jobs. In reality, it’s neither this nor that; it’s been a decent, standard season. And whilst we’re all disappointed about how it most likely will end, we can’t call it a failure or an underachievement.

Pete Strong

Not sure why Arteta feels the need to tell lies. Spurs’ squad 2015/16 had an average age of 24 and finished 3rd in PL. That’s a year younger than Arsenal’s 2021/22 squad which was 25.25 prior to departure of Aubameyang, Chambers and Kolasinac in January. Today’s squad is still older than that Spurs squad at 24.7.

Reiss Neverseen & El Dicteta

Because it keeps him in the job?


his job is secure for a while. Board even gave the yes man a new contract..


Not sure why people think being in the Europa is some sort of advantage, Leicester won the title while not in Europe, no one has ever won the title while in the Europa. All it does is ensure you play as many games as the champions league clubs without the financial benefits, witness West Ham this season. Expectations change depending on where you are in the league at different points in the season. All you can say is Arsenal had it in their own hands with a few games to go and blew it. The assumption young players will automatically… Read more »

Reiss Neverseen & El Dicteta

It’s just the club and its affiliates putting an uber-positive spin on things. If we had already qualified for the UCL, they would be saying that they had always set their standards higher than the Europa League etc.


Is it not a case that others have done worse than expected? Man Utd in particular have been garbage and Sp*rs have got by through the form of Son and Kane. West Ham fell away in the league as expected with their European commitments.

Eric Blair

Are you expecting these situations to change that much next season?


The kids became veterans this season. Kick on, men.

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