Former Arsenal striker Ian Wright believes the Gunners have overachieved this season as he praised manager Mikel Arteta for the work he’s done. He believes the Spaniard “has done brilliantly” with a young squad this season and shouldn’t be too disappointed.
The Gunners lost 2-0 against Newcastle United at St. James’ Park in the Premier League on Monday, May 16. They are now fifth in the league table, two points behind rivals Tottenham Hotspur. With just one match remaining, it seems likely that the Gunners won’t qualify for the UEFA Champions League next season.
Speaking after the match, Wright shared his thoughts on their season. He said on Premier League Productions (via HITC):
“If we are going to be totally honest, we overachieved getting in there. There are teams that should be doing a lot better than us with the squads they have got. Tottenham have shown, even during an indifferent season, they have got themselves probably that fourth squad.”
“This is a young squad. Mikel Arteta has done brilliantly with them. What we are seeing is that there isn’t enough experience and enough signings for them to, at a stage of the season, perform and win games to get it done.”
He admitted that perhaps Arsenal didn’t have the quality and would’ve been happy even with a sixth place this season. Wright said:
“We didn’t have the quality. The intensity. We didn’t have that experience. I said it at the start of the season. Sixth-placed would be good for us. I don’t think they should be too disappointed because it was a little bit out of reach.”
Have Arsenal really overachieved this season?
Arsenal started the season with three consecutive losses in the league. They also have the youngest starting XI in the league. While age certainly isn’t a measure of experience, they lack experienced players on different levels as well.
In comparison, Manchester United spent money on proven winners in the form of Cristiano Ronaldo and Raphael Varane. However, even with one of the most expensive squads in the league, they will finish either sixth or seventh.
Tottenham, meanwhile, also have a much more experienced squad with the likes of Harry Kane, Hugo Lloris, Heung-Min Son and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg. While they struggled under Nuno Espirito Santo, they were revitalized by another experienced cog in their wheel, Antonio Conte.
Hence, in comparison, you could argue that Arsenal have punched above their weight this season. However, having been in pole position for the fourth spot for a large part of the season, it is still a disappointing result.