A season that began with Arsenal winning a trophy has ended up as a disappointment for a variety of reasons. But as we look back on 2020/21, it is time to analyze the best and worst moments of the season.
There was a lot of positivity around the Gunners after they lifted the Community Shield but that faded away after a poor showing in the Premier League. An eighth-place finish has left the club without any European football for the first time in more than two decades.
Despite the prevailing feeling being all doom and gloom, there have been some bright spots as well along with some memorable results. So, without further ado, let us get straight into the awards.
Flop Of The Season – Willian
Some might be tempted to put Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in this category, but the captain did end the season with a decent goal tally. But in the case of the former Chelsea man, it was disappointment all the way.
Some eyebrows were raised when he made the move from the west of London, but his experience and talent suggested that it could be a shrewd signing. It started off on the right note as he notched up two assists in his first Premier League game.
But soon, it looked like Willian had become a shell of his former self and could not reproduce the heroics seen regularly at Stamford Bridge. And to add to this, the winger was reportedly earning a wage in the region of £200,000 which made many, question this transfer even more.
A return of one goal in 37 matches is not good enough for a player starting for the Gunners. There are suggestions that the winger could be on his way out and letting him go would be the ideal move.
Best Player Of The Season – Bukayo Saka
There were a few other candidates like Kieran Tierney, Granit Xhaka, Nicolas Pepe and Emile Smith-Rowe that made their case for this award. It is quite amazing to think that the most important player at the Emirates stadium is a 19-year-old.
Such has been the impact of Saka that he has become one of the first names on the team sheet. Though his numbers of seven goals and seven assists aren’t among the highest in the league, it is his overall contribution that has stood out.
Following his breakthrough last season, the Englishman has gone on to further establish himself as one of the focal points in attack. His versatility also played a key role as he played in multiple positions including one game as a right wing-back. Fans will be hoping that the youngster can shine at the Euros for England.
Breakthrough Player Of The Season – Emile Smith-Rowe
One question that many people had at the end of this campaign, was where the north Londoners would have finished if Smith-Rowe had been part of the team from the beginning.
It can safely be said that the Englishman helped transform the fortunes of the club since making his mark last December. With his contributions in midfield, Mikel Arteta’s men were able to end up in the top half of the table.
The youngster’s relationship with Saka and Pepe has made the attack more dynamic. Even the arrival of Martin Odegaard didn’t prevent Arteta from using the 20-year-old on a regular basis.
He will be one of the mainstays in the team going forward and we can expect to see Smith-Rowe have a bigger impact next season.
Signing Of The Season – Gabriel
Given how many games the Brazilian initially started, it is a surprise that he didn’t play more this season. But the former Lille center-back has shown why the Gunners went out and got him.
Gabriel has the speed and strength to match the best attackers in the league. And in a new country, speaking a new language, the defender has settled in really well and promises big things for the future.
Even when playing with different partners, the defender excelled with his passing skills coming to the fore as well. There were a lot of bad decisions to talk about this season, but bringing the Brazilian over to England was one of the best.
In contrast to previous years, it was the north Londoners’ defence that performed better than their attack and Gabriel had a big part to play in that.
Worst Game Of The Season – 0-0 vs Villarreal
This was one category that had a lot of contenders to choose from, but this is arguably the most significant. Losing the first leg made it tough for the Gunners but they managed to get an all-important away goal.
Coming into the second leg at the Emirates, there was a lot of hope that the hosts could score at least one goal. What followed was a disheartening performance as the home team could not create many chances.
Yes, Villarreal were helped by the post but that shouldn’t take away anything from the Gunners dire display. The entire season could have been different had this match gone the other way.
Best Game Of The Season – 3-1 vs Chelsea
Since the boxing day win over Chelsea, Arteta’s men have been much better with regards to their league form. This goes on to show how bad things were prior to that, but the 3-1 win was significant for more than one reason.
The result not only helped lift the team into some semblance of good form, but it was also the game where Smith-Rowe made his mark. When the season has not given much, it is necessary to enjoy these joyous occasions.
And this was certainly one of those days that put a smile on all associated with the club. Next season, more results like this would be needed to improve the overall mood around the club.
Arsenal have had some silver linings in 2020/21 and they should use them to move forward. With the transfer window set to open soon, those in charge have a chance to bring in some much-needed change.
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