Arsenal Women: The Full Season Review

And so, the dust has finally settled on another season for the Arsenal Women. It’s a season that initially filled us with much hope and expectation, and for a while, it looked as though it would be fulfilled. Yet, just like the 2 seasons prior, it ended just the same. No trophies. No glory. Chelsea once again ruled the roost, with Arsenal falling short once more, with the scant consolation that they actually competed for the entire season, rather than checking out over Christmas. And although it may have ended in crushing disappointment, there is hope for the future. With that in mind, here is my full review of the team, and the club’s performance as a whole.

1 – Manuela Zinsberger: What a season. And what a far cry from the unsteady, uncertain, error prone keeper that arrived at Meadow Park in 2019. I’ll hold my hands up, I was a naysayer, I questioned the worth of such a keeper who seemed to lack confidence and consistency. At a time when Berger was winning Chelsea Cup Finals and League Titles with critical saves and Roebuck was showing everyone why she was England’s Number 1 at Man City, Manu was rash, caught on the ball in her own box, a weak aerial presence, and error prone. Flash forward to this season, and fans question not her role in our team, but rather her absence in the team of the season. 13 clean sheets and winner of the Golden Glove in the WSL, Manu has been a steady, secure, safe pair of gloves between the sticks. Even when Arsenal have been thrashed, such as in the Cup Final and the Barcelona UWCL matches, it was Manu keeping the scoreline down with some brilliant saves. Still undefeated from the penalty spot, saving late Alexia Putellas effort in Barcelona and saved by the post against Spurs in the NLD. Score: 9

2 – Rafaelle Souza: One of our winter acquisitions, Arsenal at last have a left-sided centre back, bringing balance to their central defence. Leah’s absence over the winter period left a vacuum, both in talent and in ball progression, which ultimately undermined their title challenge. Rafa’s arrival helped remedy this problem, but by then, the damage had already been done. Injuries sadly robbed her a decent run in the side, but what fleeting moments we saw lhighlighted her potential and eaves fan excited for next season. Her headed goal against Birmingham City was a particular highlight. Score: 6

3 – Lotte Wubben-Moy: After a strong run of form during the finale of last season, Lotte was forced to largely play second fiddle to Jen Beattie for the start of the season. Still young and raw, Lotte benefited from playing alongside Leah, who could cover for her should she err. However, her shortcomings were brutally exposed when playing alongside Jen Beattie during Leah’s spell out injured, most notably against Chelsea in the FA Cup Final, when Sam Kerr twisted her inside and out before extending Chelsea’s lead. Her form picked up with Leah’s return to the side and Jen Beattie’s relegation to the bench, becoming the first choice pick for the remainder of the season. A right sided centre back being forced to play out of position on the left, one wonders if she would benefit playing on the right next to a left footer. Last season’s good form came playing alongside the two-footed Lia Walti, and with the arrival of Rafa, Lotte could play alongside her instead, offering a rotational option for Leah. Her late equaliser against Wolfsburg at Emirates Stadium was a moment of pure joy. There is talent there, but much work still to do. Score: 6

4 – Anna Patten: Played sporadically throughout the season, usually as a back-up right-back to Noelle Maritz, although this avenue was cut-off with the arrival of Wienroither. A promising centre-back for the future, Anna went out on loan to try and get more game time and develop her game. Sadly, her time at Aston Villa was cut short due to injury. Her most notable moment was a ‘top-bin’ finish away at Køge. With Arsenal currently well stocked in defence, another loan spell might well be necessary to give her the minutes she needs. Score: 4

5 – Jen Beattie: From starter to substitute, Jen’s role in the side became a ticking time bomb that detonated the moment Leah limped away from the NLD at Spurs. A legendary, experienced defender, it sadly looks like modern game is starting to catch up with her. Her lack of recovery pace has been exposed by the top sides in Europe, a problem considering Arsenal now play with a high line in order press teams. Her lax passing across the back has also got Arsenal into trouble, most notably in the home tie against Barcelona, when a misplaced pass to Cately lead to a turnover on the halfway line and ultimately the opening goal. Whilst Leah was able to cover her failings when in the team, her absence made them all the starker (see FA Cup Final). An attempted partnership with Catley at makeshift LCB failed, with Arsenal shipping 4 against Barcelona and Hoffenheim, and going 1-0 at home to Man United in the WSL, a game which ultimately proved terminal to Arsenal’s title hopes. With Lotte and Leah seeing out the rest of the season, one wonders where Jen fits in the side going forward. Her contract is up this summer, but rumours are circling that an extension may well be on the cards. Should she remain here, I cannot see her starting the main fixtures, instead providing an option as an experienced substitute, or a cup rotational squad player. Score: 4

6 – Leah Williamson. It says a lot about how good Leah Williamson was this season by just how bad Arsenal were during her absence. Her injury against Spurs could not have come at a worse time for the Gunners, with crucial Champions League ties and an FA Cup Final before Christmas, and a tricky fixture list that would ultimately determine the outcome of the WSL at the start of the new year. A calm presence at the back, reliable, secure, with her excellent awareness and recovery pace able to neutralise opposition counters and cater for mistakes by her CB partners (an absent trait keenly felt during the winter). Her excellent ball distribution allowed for rapid switch of plays to help Arsenal shift the opposition backline and allow them to overload the flanks to great effect. Now also a goal threat with plenty of set piece headers (despite Katie McCabe’s best attempts to take her head off with them!), under Jonas she looks to have taken her game to the next level. Alarm bells were sounding in the summer when even she, a Gooner through and through, found herself question the club she loved and the direction it was heading in. Thankfully, her fears appear to have been alleviated, with another extension signed in January. Will be having the honour of captaining England at the home Euros, a deserved reward for a career that just continues to improve with every season. Score: 8

7 – Steph Catley: A season of two seasons, Catley arrived in 2020 to much fanfare, yet was barely given the opportunity to demonstrate her talents on the pitch with an injury plagued season. This was the season were hoping to finally see her shine, combined with the tantalising prospect of combining with Katie McCabe to create a devasting left flank combination attack. Sadly, this did not play out as intended. Neither did Jonas attempts to have her cater as an LCB over the winter period. However, following her return from the Asian Cup, combined with the restoration of Foord on the left flank, she at last looks like the player Arsenal though they were signing at the start of last season. A reliable presence at left back, with great attacking overlapping, and devastating on set pieces, it will be up to her to sustain this form into the next season. Her free kick away at Køge was nominated for UWCL Goal of the Season. Score: 6

8 – Jordan Nobbs: If any player in the team was the embodiment of a Shakespearian Tragedy, it is Jordan Nobbs. A player of immense talent juxtaposed with the same level of misfortune when it comes to injuries. She came into the season late due to a foul in the Mind Series against Chelsea, and finished it early after limping off against Aston Villa, robbing her of the chance to play in yet another major international tournament. Struggled to get game time all season, leaving fans of Jordan questioning Jonas’ decision making, and leaves others questioning her present role in the side. Does Jonas see Nobbs as critical component in this team, or was he simply trying to help manage her fitness and injury issues? With Miedema now dropping into 10, and Jonas preferring to have wingers on the flanks as opposed to attacking midfielders, where does Nobbs now play? An alternative starter for Kim Little in deep or a rotational option for Viv at 10? Despite this, she was still able to achieve some impressive milestones, reaching 250 appearances when she come on late against Man United, and scoring her 50th WSL goal away at Everton, with a typical Jordan Nobbs thumping finish. Is this the end for Nobbs? Jonas has reiterated time and again her importance and this side, and she does have 1 year left on her contract. Next season could well be make or break for Nobbs. If she can stay fit, it would be the perfect opportunity to showcase the talents we all saw that made her one of the most devasting attacking midfielders in the WSL, before the that horrendous ACL injury. Alternatively, it could be her final lap of honour before moving onto pastures new.  In regards to the present, however, a disappointing season overall. Score: 4

9 – Beth Mead: Wow. What a season. It began with a brace at the Emirates against Chelsea, and it pretty much carried on from there. Hit 50 WSL goals, broken the WSL assist record, and became the epitome of the high pressing philosophy Jonas is looking to implement. If Jonas had an entire frontline of Beth Meads to utilise, we would be seeing one of the most devasting counter-pressing sides in Footballing history. The rebound from the dejection on missing out on the Olympics to having arguably her best season at the club has been there for all to see. Highlights include that brace against Chelsea, the winning free-kick against Brighton and the absolute thunder-blaster against Aston Villa. Became the first woman to score a hat-trick at the new Wembley for England against Northern Ireland. Looks to be a key component Sarina Wiegman’s attack this summer, which bodes well. Arsenal fans will hope this is not her peak, but the start of a resurgence. An absolute crime that she was not included in the WSL player of the season awards. Arsenal Women’s Player of the Season. Score: 9

10 – Kim Little: The renaissance of Kim has been a thing of beauty. Her retirement from international football, in order to focus her efforts at Arsenal, has paid huge dividends for the Gooners. Her jinking runs and ball retention have seen her score some superb goals, particularly at home against Man City and West Ham. Her role did change as the season progressed, moving much deeper to form a 2-player axis with Walti. And whilst the goals may have stopped, her influence on the pitch did not. Won player of the match for an incredible performance in the heart of the midfield away at Chelsea. Most notable moment came in Arsenal’s home game against Aston Villa, where she opted to forgo her penalty responsibilities, in order to allow Nikita Parris to hit 50 WSL goals, demonstrating the strength she possesses as captain, the selfless desire to put the needs of other players ahead of her own personal glory. At 31 years old, one does wonder how many seasons Kim has left playing for Arsenal at this high level. It’s critical we give our captain at least one more major trophy to lift before her time ends at Arsenal. With no Euros to play in, she will instead be on loan at OL Reign this summer to maintain her fitness. Arsenal will hope she comes back unscathed, as a red-hot Kim Little will go some way towards ensuring they hit the ground running next season. Score: 8

11 – Vivianne Miedema: it’s been a season of transition for Arsenal, and nothing optimises that more than Vivianne Miedema. Starting out the season in her usual position of lead striker, the arrival of Stina has seen her move to her preferential role of being at the heart of the attacking machine. Now Viv could move deep without Arsenal losing their attacking presence up front. This all came together in one glorious moment against Man United when Viv played a splendid through pass from deep within her own half to send Stina clear and slot past Mary Earps to equalise. It’s one thing to ask to play in a position, it’s another to match that talk with ability to play there consistently, (see Walcott, Oxlade-Chamberlain, and Maitland-Niles, who failed to do so when given the chance). The move to 10 saw a reduction in Viv’s output from a goal perspective, but she more than made up for it with her ability on the ball in deep, retaining possession and playing attacking, penetrative passes in behind. The move to 10 coincided with an upturn in form for Arsenal during the final run-in, but by then, the big games were all but done. With Viv likely to remain in this deep role next season, it will be interesting to see how successful it is against the likes of Man City and Chelsea. Despite the change in position, the records still tumbled, with 100 Arsenal goals and 100 WSL goal contributions achieved, and she still finished Arsenal’s top scorer with 23 goals in all competitions. The best news came after the season’s conclusion, when Viv agreed to stay on for another season, adding an element of stability to Arsenal’s summer. Like Leah, she too had been uncertain over Arsenal’s direction and ambition but was convinced by Jonas and the progress the team had made this season, even if ultimately, they had ended it empty handed. Now it will be Arsenal to continue the progress they’ve made. A player of her talents should be winning trophies, not just securing Champions League qualification. Score: 8

12 – Frida Maanum: When Jonas was being interviewed for the Arsenal job, he was asked which midfielder he would like to bring to the club. To his surprise, the one he asked for, Frida Maanum, had already been acquired by Arsenal. A strong first half to the season demonstrated just why he wanted Arsenal to bring this exciting young prospect to the club. Controlling the midfield with her passing and pressing, it looked certain she would be a mainstay for the the rest of the season. Her best moment came when she launched an absolute rocket against Everton at Meadow Park. Sadly however, she was unable to sustain her early form. The midfield three of Walti, Little and Maanum failed to function as Christmas approached, most noticeably away at Spurs and in the FA Cup Final. All 3 were too deep, leaving the attacking trio of Mead, McCabe and Miedema isolated. A bad show at Birmingham City saw her dropped to the substitutes’ bench, where she remained for the remainder of the season, as Jonas opted to go with a twin axis of Little and Walti instead. A young player with plenty of talent, but now needs to find that consistency. Score: 6

13 – Lia Walti: Ok for the first half of the season, Lia really stepped up after Christmas, combining her defensive brilliance at the heart of the midfield with some superb passing from deep. Her ball to Foord to help her score Arsenal’s 4th against Birmingham City, just as it looked as though an unlikely comeback was on the cards, was a thing of beauty. Helped by the change of shape, pairing up with Little as Jonas shifted from a 4-3-3 to a 4-2-3-1. Missed badly when Arsenal travelled to Wolfsburg in the Champions League, leaving a gaping hole in the heart of the team which they were able to play through with ease. Really looks like she has cracked how Jonas wants her to play. Bodes well for next season. Score: 8

14 – Nikita Parris: Where to start. A signing I had very little confidence in when it happened, and sadly, I was proven right to be worried. Never looked settled in the side, particularly in the WSL. Brought in as Arsenal’s record signing, yet it took her until the last game at Meadow Park to score her first WSL goal for Arsenal and reach the 50 WSL goals, and that was from the penalty spot. A few FA Cup and UWCL group stage goals against lesser opposition is hardly the return Arsenal was looking for when she signed. Achieved nothing close to what was expected of her, although in her defence, looked like a signing ill-suited to Jonas’ style of play. Spent most of season running into cul-de-sacs down the flanks with no end product from the wings, and whose confidence looked shot when given a sight of goal. A glaring miss away at Brighton is but one example. Went from starter to substitute as the season entered the crunch, and it’s hard to see where she will fit in this side in the future. Rumours say Manchester United are interested in signing her. It may well be best both parties part ways now. A player of her talents should be starting games and doesn’t look like it will be happening at Arsenal anytime soon. Score: 2

15 – Katie McCabe: Started the season in electric fashion, picking up where she left off after winning Arsenal’s player of the season in the previous campaign. Was finally given the chance to play further forward and made the most of it with some absolutely ludicrous goals, such as a 40-yard chip over Hannah Hampton at Villa Park, and a wonderful chest and volley against Everton at Meadow Park. Her role during the second half of the season waned somewhat as Foord found her form again on the left flank. Her fiery competitive nature created some amusement in the NLD at Emirates Stadium. Yet it was also to Arsenal’s detriment against Manchester United, as her sending off impeded their chances in coming from behind to win the game, a match they ultimately drew. A reliable attacking presence, both at left wing and fullback. Just don’t play her at right back again Jonas. Please. Score: 7

16 – Noelle Maritz: Dependable. Reliable. A defender who just defends. The Arsenal Women equivalent of Tomiyasu. An ever presence at right-back, such was her quality that Jonas hardly rotated her out of the team, even with the arrival of a dedicated back up right back option in the winter. Committed her future to Arsenal with an extension this summer, much to the delight of the fans. With Catley now settled in the side, Arsenal now have two strong fullbacks to compliment a very strong defensive unit, which, should they stay fit next season, will go a long way towards helping them win the WSL Title. Score: 8

17 – Lisa Evans: Loaned out before the season started, Lisa excelled during her time at West Ham. With her contract now up this summer, she has left the club. A very popular member of the team, it is sad to see her depart. However, With Mead excelling on the flank and Maritz holding down the right back slot, there is at present no room for Lisa in the side. She is stuck in the unfortunate void of being too good just to be just a rotational option off the bench but will not start ahead of the likes of Mead and Maritz. The arrival of further attacking options last summer (and likely again this summer) was pretty much terminal for her. We will miss her and her wonderful vlogs (which if you haven’t seen already, be sure to check out!). Hopefully she can find a club where she can demonstrate the fine form that was so instrumental towards helping Arsenal claim the 2018-19 title. Good Luck Lisa! Score: N/A

18 – Lydia Williams. Arrived the previous season as an alternate first choice keeper to challenge Manu, this season she has found herself as the definitive reserve ‘Cup Keeper’, with Jonas putting all his chips on Manu. Dependable when brought in, albeit for the early Cup rounds against lesser opposition, but barely featured as a first-choice keeper. Contract is up this summer, and with a home World Cup on the horizon, will likely depart in search of first team minutes. Score: 5

19 – Caitlin Foord: A player who looked lost before Christmas, who, like Catley, appeared to find herself after the Asian Cup. Returned reborn, especially when moved to the left flank, rather than as a central alternative to Viv. Scored crucial goals, such as the clincher against Birmingham City and a brace against Spurs, the second a wonderful curling effort. Thought she might have been on the way out before Christmas, but has since changed my mind, and I’m thrilled to see she is staying on for the foreseeable future after signing a contract extension. Score: 6

20 – Simone Boye Sørenson: Oh dear. A Jonas signing that Jonas seemed to have an extreme reluctance to play. Barely featured, aside from a few late substitute appearance and early round cup competitions. And on the few occasions when picked, has done little to warrant her selection. Started the defeat away at Birmingham City and was exposed badly for Libby Smith’s opener. Once Rafa arrived and Leah returned to full fitness, barely featured, if at all, in the first team. Does not look close to being a first team starter, or even a frequent rotational option from the bench. Will surely be moved on this summer, either on loan or on a permanent transfer. Score: 2

21 – Malin Gut: Never played this season as she recovered from her ACL injury. Returned home during the January transfer window. Wishing her all the best for her future. Score: N/A

22 – Vikki Schnaderbeck: An injury ravaged stay at Arsenal came to a close this season. The writing was on the wall when she followed Emma Mitchell in going out on loan to Spurs for the second half on the season. Will forever be remembered for having her contract announcement made over WhatsApp. Like Malin, wish her all the best for her future. Score: N/A

23 – Mana Iwabuchi: The signing Arsenal have wanted to make for so long just did not live up to the hype. A few moments of brilliance, such as the nutmeg and curl against Spurs in the FA Cup, and the near post flick against Aston Villa, were an oasis in a desert of pure nothingness. Barely featured in the second half of the season, it later transpired that Mana was carrying a foot injury after the Olympics, and this was only rectified this summer with surgery. Does that explain away her absence and lack of ‘Mana Magic’ when picked? For now, we should probably give her the benefit of the doubt. But such luxuries will not be afforded next season once she is back to full fitness. This was a signing built for Jonas’ predecessor. Can she slot into Jonas’ way of thinking? We shall see. Score: 5

24 – Fran Stenson: No appearances. No score. What is going with Fran? With Lydia Williams likely to leave this summer, will Stenson get the chance to step up and be the cup keeper? Score: N/A

25 – Stina Blackstenius: A signing that quite literally reshaped Arsenal’s attack. The first half of Arsenal’s campaign was plagued by Viv coming deep and Arsenal having to have a wide player take her place to be the focal point. And whilst it worked to great effect against Chelsea when Beth Mead ran through to give Arsenal the lead again, it went against Jonas’ desire to have his wide players sustain the width, and left Arsenal without a focal point and an overpopulated midfield. Stina arrived at the club highly rated, and whilst no striker can realistically hold a candle to Viv and her incredible scoring record, she has led the line competently, scoring crucial goals along the way. Her late equaliser against Manchester United helped maintain Arsenal’s unbeaten home record in the WSL and made an immediate impact off the bench to give Arsenal the lead against West Ham on the final day. Like Rafa, her arrival sadly came too late to save Arsenal’s season, but these last 5 months have given her the perfect time to acclimatise to the WSL. A 7-goal haul during that period is a respectable return, but with a full season on the horizon, Arsenal will expect those figures to improve considerably. With Viv providing options from deep, and flanked by the likes of Mead, Foord, McCabe, and whoever else we bring in this summer, Stina should be well served to at least reach double figures and provide the consistent end product required to sustain a charge at the title. Score: 7

26 – Laura Wienroither: Arsenal’s last winter signing, Laura was brought in to provide an alternative to Noelle Maritz. Arsenal were already aware of her prior to her arrival, having unfortunately scored the own goal that kept Hoffenheim qualifying from the UWCL group stage at Arsenal’s expense. Did not feature extensively, due to the strong form of Maritz. Had a very shaky game in the home game against Birmingham City, where a suicidal throw-in practically gifted Birmingham their second and made what should have been a comfortable win distinctly uncomfortable, until Foord’s late intervention. Plenty of pace and looks good in attack, she is almost the complete opposite of Maritz. Will hopefully get more games next season and a chance to hone her game. Score: 4

29 – Teyah Goldie: Promising academy product that was used as a timewasting sub, Teyah went on loan to Watford in the winter to get more game time. She won player of the month in February, but ruptured her ACL in March, cutting her promising loan spell short. Hoping she makes a successful recover. Score: N/A

33 – Halle Houssein: An academy product who came off the bench late on against Reading. Did not feature for the remainder of the season and has since left the club. Best of luck for the future Halle!

35 – Alex Hennessy: Another academy product, Alex scored 2 goals against Spurs in the Mind Series and made a cameo off the bench against Reading. Went on loan to Crystal Palace for the second half of the season. Will be interesting to see if she is given a chance in the first team next season, or if another loan spell is on the cards. Score: N/A

77 – Tobin Heath: The much-loved American finally got to sign for the club of her dreams. Sadly, it didn’t become the fairy-tale many had hoped. Rarely fit, rarely picked and rarely played. Heath never completed 90 minutes for Arsenal. For such a well renowned attacker, Heath only managed 3 goals during her time. Her high point came with the last-gasp equaliser at Man City, but I think many fans were hoping for more from their star-studded signing. Departed after injury cut her season short. Score: 3

Conti Cup: Less said about this the better. Arsenal got a bye to the knockout rounds due to their European exploits, but lost at home 1-0 to Manchester United, thanks to a late set piece goal. Played as Arsenal struggled to cater for the absence of Williamson. A golden chance for a trophy wasted. Jonas will hope for better next season.

FA Cup: Arsenal got two bites of the cherry this season, and both times Chelsea denied them. Arsenal progressed through last season’s competition with ease, thrashing Spurs 5-1 and overcoming a stubborn Brighton 3-0 in the Semin Final. However, the delayed Final was a complete disaster. Chelsea played them off the park, with Arsenal playing a midfield that was too deep and a makeshift backline that was there to be torn apart. In this season’s competition, they made hard work of London City Lionesses, scraping through 1-0 after Viv capitalised on a defensive mistake. However, they comfortably overturned both Liverpool and Coventry United 4-0 (Be sure to watch back McCabe and Foord’s goals against Liverpool. Incredible efforts), leading to a rematch with Chelsea in the Semi Final, which this time was a much closer affair. Arsenal had the better of the few first half chances, without seriously testing Berger. A close miss from Beth Mead was immediately followed up by a Reiten screamer, and from then on, Arsenal wilted. A second goal scored by Ji sealed Chelsea’s progression. In neither game against Chelsea were Arsenal able to impose their philosophy on Chelsea, which will have been a concern for Jonas. Despite an improved big game record in the league, the cup competitions have been a failure.

UEFA Women’s Champions League: The one saving grace from last season was qualification for the Champions League, admittedly by first having to progress through the most convoluted qualification process know to mankind. Arsenal breezed through the pre-qualifiers (Manu’s short corner goal a particular highlight) and disposed of Sparta Praha in the play-offs with ease. The group stage provided mixed fortunes. Arsenal were thrashed by Barcelona home and away (which was to be expected), but did the double over Køge. The head-to-head against Hoffenheim was the determining factor. Arsenal thrashed Hoffenheim 4-0 at Meadow Park but lost 4-1 away. Despite progressing, the second half defensive collapse, which nearly saw Arsenal miss out in embarrassing fashion, raised alarm bells, and Jonas has since stated that it was the most disappointing result he had experienced during his tenure here. Arsenal were able to take the high ground of English last team standing, after Man City lost their play-off and Chelsea fell at the group stage to Wolfsburg. However, Wolfsburg would be Arsenal’s endgame too. A battling 1-1 draw at Emirates stadium was rendered redundant by a tame 2-0 surrender in Germany. Arsenal are nowhere near the level required to progress deep into the Champions League, let alone win the entire thing. The teams they will need to overcome are faster, stronger, and vastly more experiences. The European game has advanced considerably since Arsenal tapped out in 2014. Now they need to catch up and catch up rapidly. Steps are already being taken, as Jonas has suggested mirroring European clubs in bringing players from the Men’s Under 16s to help increase the intensity of the training sessions. For now, Arsenal’s goal has to be to get past the group stage and compete as best they can in the big games. Failure to improve and evolve will see more star players, like DVD and Jill Roord last season, leave for clubs with a greater chance of winning the biggest trophy in Europe.

Women’s Super League: The closest Arsenal have come to winning the title since their victory in 2018-19. Pushed Chelsea to the final day of the season, missing out by one point. A strong first half to the season saw Arsenal open up a 4-point margin, but a torrid drop in form post-Christmas, coinciding with the injury to Leah Williamson, saw them drop 9 points, which in a league as small in the WSL is colossal. Once Chelsea had their noses in front for the first time this season, they were never going relinquish it. Jonas will be cursing that sole defeat of the season against soon to be relegated Birmingham City, but the poor run exposed the drop-off in quality beyond the starting 11, which wasn’t rectified in a poor summer transfer window. Yet there is still cause for optimism, with the winter arrivals able to fix these problems, albeit too late. The philosophy Jonas is looking to implement has the potential to be very exciting, although more work needs to be done on the training ground to get it to work consistently, both in terms of strategy and in fitness, in order to sustain the intensity for 90 minutes, especially against the top sides. Thankfully, that record against the top sides is already much improved, with Arsenal taking 12 points out of 18, an improvement on last season’s 4. However, they also won one away game against this season’s Top 5 (against Man United), drawing the other 3. There is still room for improvement, and its important the club do not squander this summer like they did the last. They must sign players that compliment Jonas’ style, rather than just big names. If they can do that, then there is every chance next season Arsenal can take that next step, and bridge that one point gap to glory.