ARSENAL HISTORY: 2018 to Present Day…
And so, after the loss of Wenger, came an emptiness at the club, that even to this day still feels like it hasn’t been completely filled and maybe never will.
Yet after an overhaul in the club’s operating model to coincide with Wenger’s departure, Basque-Spaniard Unai Emery was named as the club’s new head coach on 23rd May 2018. He became the club’s first ever head coach and second manager from outside the United Kingdom .
In Emery’s first season, Arsenal finished fifth in the Premier League and as runner-up in the Europa League after losing out to Chelsea 4-1 in the final. I guess you could call that payback from Chelsea who lost out to us in the FA Cup back in the 2016-17 season.
However, Emery’s stint would be rather short lived, and, on the 29th of November 2019, Emery was sacked after rumours circulating that he had struggled with the language barrier and in turn had seemed to have lost the dressing room.
So, Arsenal were on the hunt for yet another manager, something they were not used to in more recent times after having one manager for around 22 years, they were soon on the hunt for their second manager in less than two years.
And so former player and assistant first team coach Freddie Ljungberg was appointed as interim head coach, a year after he was announced as the under-23 coach in June 2018.
In December 2019 Ljungberg had said he was working on a game-by-game basis. His first match as interim head-coach ended in a 2-2 draw away to Norwich City on 1st December and he achieved his first and only win, beating West Ham United 3-1 eight days later. And it would be 11 days later we would appoint yet another coach.
On 20th December 2019, Arsenal appointed former club captain Mikel Arteta as the new head coach. A man who was known to the club, yet had zero experience in managing a team as big as Arsenal (or just a team in general) after being assistant to Pep Guardiola at Manchester City for three years between 2016-2019. But the Arsenal board saw something in the man they would appoint on a contract until 2023.
Upon his appointment, he stated that he believed the club had lost direction and that he didn’t want players to shirk responsibility adding: “I want people to take responsibility for their jobs and I want people who deliver passion and energy in the football club . Anyone who doesn’t buy into this, or that has a negative effect or whatever, is not good enough for this environment or this culture.”
And he lived up to that statement as we would learn later on!
On 26th December 2019, Arteta took charge for the first time as an Arsenal manager for their Premier League match against Bournemouth which ended in a 1–1 draw. Despite the draw, he stated he was pleased with the “attitude, passion and the fighting spirit” of his players, something we wold be hearing a lot after many games with Arteta in charge.
On 1st January 2020, Arteta won his first match as an Arsenal manager after a 2–0 win over Manchester United at the Emirates.
On 18th July 2020, we beat Arteta’s former employer Manchester City 2–0 in the FA Cup semi-final, where we went into our fourth FA Cup Final in seven years where we beat Chelsea 2-1 in the final, a score-line we had been used to after previous results in the same competition. 😊
This win would make Arteta the first person to win the FA Cup as both captain and manager of Arsenal. Moreover, he became the first manager to win a major trophy in his first season in charge of the club since George Graham in 1986-87. And only a few months later he won his second trophy, the Community Shield, in a 1-1 (5-4 on penalties) win against Liverpool.
In the Europa League, he led Arsenal to the semi-finals, in which we lost 2–1 on aggregate to ex manager Unai Emery’s Villarreal.
However, that season we would finish the league in eighth, our lowest finish since 1994–95. This result also ended the 25-year run of participating in European competitions and it was clear that Arsenal had hit rock bottom.
After the season, Arteta’s title was changed from head coach to manager and on 18 April 2021, Arsenal were announced as a founding club of the breakaway European competition The European Super League, AND WE ALL KNOW HOW WE FELT ABOUT THAT ONE, SO THE LESS WE SAY THE BETTER!
Arsenal withdrew from the competition two days after announcing they would take part, after backlash and protests from fans around England!
And things didn’t really look up too much as when the 2021-22 season began we started with three defeats and at one point we were rock bottom in the table, a position we were not used to at all, and talk of relegation was rife at the club, again something we were not used to!
To make matters worse, we were knocked out of all competitions such as the League Cup and the FA Cup, and of course not having European football to compete in, our sole focus was on the Premier League.
But if anybody had told us that at the end of the season, we would finish in the fifth place after eight placed finishes and three defeats at the start of the season, nobody would have believed it, yet the end of the most recent season has seen us step back into European football, albeit Europa League football, having just slightly missed out on Champions League.
But maybe just maybe Arteta is getting a team together that slowly will be back at the top where they belong, challenging for what they deserve. And if his reign comes to an end soon, he will for sure be remembered as the first person to win the FA Cup as a player and manager, a manager who wasn’t afraid to come in, shake things up and get rid of some big key players such as Mesut Ozil, Aubameyang, Sead Kolasinac, Lacazette and many more to name a few, despite the non-agreement from a section of Arsenal fans and pundits. Yet this shows that Arteta was not and is not afraid to make decisions and stick by them, despite them not always being the best choice or option for the club in the long run.
But Arteta is still at the club and has recently been offered a new deal too, and I fail to see the board letting him go even if he fails miserably.
So, although the end of the decade is still four years away it will be interesting to see how the next four years pan out, and if each season can only get better, then I for one hope next season brings us some joy and positivity and less negativity, frustration and disgust.
And although I have said it once and I will always say it no matter what, I will always be proud to be a Gooner, Gunner, Arsenal fan, or whatever we want to call ourselves. Yes, we will have ups and downs throughout the years there is no doubt about that, but the way we get back up is what is important, and the way we stick together on and off the pitch is the most important too!
We lose as a team, we draw as a team, and we win as a team, and as long as we stay as a team to create the best possible memories and history that we can, well that is the most important thing!
ONCE A GOONER ALWAYS A GOONER AND FOREVER I’LL BE PROUD!
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