Despite sitting in first place for a record-breaking 248 days of the 2022/23 Premier League season, Arsenal’s narrow defeat to Nottingham Forest saw their title challenge officially end.
The north London side have become an entirely different entity under Mikel Arteta this season, but they have much to improve on if they are to compete again with England’s elite in the coming campaigns.
Manchester City’s triumph means they have now won three consecutive league titles and many teams – Arsenal included – will be looking to knock them off their perch next time around.
As fans begin to wonder whether Arteta’s men will rub shoulders with the likes of City again, here are five things to address if they are to lift the title next year.
Odegaard has been in brilliant form throughout the campaign / Stu Forster/GettyImages
Interest in some of Arteta’s integral squad members could increase off the back of such an impressive season, but Arsenal are taking steps to keep their prized assets.
They are due to start contract talks with Martin Odegaard, while a new deal has been agreed with young forward Bukayo Saka. The Gunners remain hopeful over an extension for defender William Saliba, but an announcement isn’t imminent.
Arsenal’s improved output in attack has been key to their success this season, with Gabriel Martinelli, Saka, Odegaard and Gabriel Jesus all hitting ten plus goals. The young backline consisting of Aaron Ramsdale – who has penned a new deal – Saliba, Gabriel and Ben White has also surpassed expectations.
The majority of players mentioned are all under the ripe age of 25, which provides Arteta and his entourage with an encouraging skeleton to build upon.
Xhaka and Partey have joined Odegaard in midfield for most of the season / Alex Pantling/GettyImages
Odegaard been brilliant in connecting midfield and attack throughout the campaign, while Granit Xhaka and Thomas Partey were consistent for much of the title charge before the wheels starting to fall off.
However, upgrades on Xhaka and Partey are out there and Arsenal need to make the central midfeld area a priority in the summer transfer window.
The benefit of sealing Champions League football for the first time since 2016 will make the Gunners a much more attractive option for a world-beating central midfielder, a category in which Declan Rice fits into.
Xhaka is set to leave and Partey hit a poor patch of form, making this summer an opportune time to bring in some midfield reinforcements, even with January addition Jorginho.
Jesus missed a large chunk of Arsenal’s title push / Will Palmer/Allstar/GettyImages
Gabriel Jesus is a fantastic forward, but in order to dethrone City, Arsenal need to acquire some further firepower. Someone with the same output as Erling Haaland, maybe? Is that too much to ask?
Despite missing a chunk of this season after picking up an injury at the World Cup, the Brazilian frontman managed to score 10 goals and assisted a further six in his first campaign in north London.
Interestingly, the Gunners do have the services of 21-year-old Folarin Balogun, who was loaned out to French side Reims where he has netted 19 goals in Ligue 1 this term. The now-USA international deserves further exposure at the Emirates Stadium, but Arteta may be wary of his lack of credibility in England shown by his less than impressive three goals in 18 matches for Middlesbrough.
Their May clashes with Liverpool and West Ham were prime examples of the lack of ruthless finishing as they ceded two-goal leads in back-to-back fixtures. When opportunities to put games to bed go amiss, it’s clear that prolific goal threats are needed up top and Arsenal would be wise to scour the market for that this summer.
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Patrick Vieira has claimed that Arsenal need more “personality and competitiveness” / Sebastian Frej/MB Media/GettyImages
You think of the great teams ingrained in football folklore and the common denominator between them all is clear leadership, which you could suggest Arsenal lack.
They may be blessed with the second youngest squad in the Premier League behind the freshly relegated Southampton, but critics have suggested their failure to control emotions contributed to their title hopes dying.
Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal teams were not just packed with quality but with leaders such as Tony Adams, Martin Keown, Lee Dixon and Patrick Vieira to name a few. A boost in leadership in the dressing room and out on the pitch would provide them with that extra edge.
Gabriel and Saliba were immense together this campaign / Clive Rose/GettyImages
Arsenal’s downfall coincided with the absence of Saliba, who picked up an injury in their second-leg clash against Sporting CP in the Europa League. Rob Holding replaced him at first before January arrival Jakub Kiwior was given a chance.
Both Holding and Kiwior are comfortable defenders in their own right but the gap in quality between that duo and Saliba is undeniably stark, and Arsenal’s results have suffered.
At just 22 and 25 years old respectively, Saliba and Gabriel provide Arsenal with a suitable defensive pairing who have proved they can operate together. The problem lies, however, with the squad depth if one of them is unavailable.
Just compare Arsenal’s defensive options to champions City, who have the likes of Ruben Dias, John Stones, Manuel Akanji, Nathan Ake and Aymeric Laporte at their disposal. That’s the difference Arsenal and any other title hopefuls will need to make up next season.
On this edition of The Chronicles of a Gooner, part of the 90min podcast network, Harry Symeou looks back at Nottingham Forest 1-0 Arsenal in the Premier League, discussing the team selection and performance and Manchester City being crowned champions. If you can’t see this embed, click here to listen to the podcast!