And that is the end of the 2021/22 season.
There are two sensible schools of thought on how the season went.
The first is from those who recognise that 5th was our main target of the season; and we finished 5th.
The second is those that saw us move into pole position for top 4 and then bottled it towards the end of the season.
There is a 3rd school of thought but that is held be Arsenal incels and so insignificant that we will not bother discussing it.
The reality is one and two are correct.
5th was our target, we did finish 5th, but we should have finished 4th.
We started off the season in horrendous form – losing out first 3 games of the season.
A Covid hit squad and two tough games against the two favourites of the season saw us sitting bottom of the table 3 games in.
But we rebuilt, going on an 8 game unbeaten run which dragged us up to 5th.
This was a season of peaks and troughs. We seemed to go on long winning (or unbeaten) runs and then would lose games in clusters.
That first cluster was the first 3 games of the season. The second came after our 8 game unbeaten run. We would then lose 3 of the next 4.
It was the manner of the defeats to Everton and Manchester United that hurt so much.
Neither team were the sides of yesteryear and in both games we took the lead and dominated. Only to come away with nothing.
Missed chances and sloppy goals. If anything cost us top 4, it was those back to back defeats.
The defeat to Everton in early December left us 7th. Champions League dreams extinguished.
9 victories in the next 11 games followed – the only defeat at home to Manchester City. A victory for the referee that game.
That form saw us break into the top 4 for the first time this season and, with 12 games to go, it was in our hands!
Then the 3rd cluster of defeats – triggered for the 2nd time of the season by a defeat to Liverpool.
4 defeats in 5 games saw us tumble from 4th to 6th.
Losses to Crystal Palace, Southampton and Brighton alongside injuries to Kieran Tierney and Thomas Partey had us questioning whether we would even make Europa League.
Then an away win against Chelsea – easily our best away day in years – was followed up by another 3 solid wins.
3 games to go, 4 points ahead of Spurs in 5th. On paper we should have finished top 4. But that trip to Newcastle was always going to be a potential banana skin.
And so it proved to be just that.
Had we beaten Spurs, we would have guaranteed ourselves top 4 with 2 games to go.
Instead they took advantage of some poor refereeing and closed the gap to 1 point. We then went and lost to Newcastle, a defeat which all but handed 4th place to Tottenham.
When we dissect how we lost 4th, the 4 clusters of defeats is something that needs to be looked at.
We can not expect to be challengers if 1 defeat brings another 2 or 3. We need better bouncebackability.
A key factor in us finishing 4th was Tottenham’s results against 1st and 2nd in the league.
Spurs were unbeaten against Manchester City and Liverpool – beaten the former twice and drawing both games against the latter.
That is 8 points taken from games against the league title challengers. We took 0.
Both Liverpool and Manchester City play into Tottenham’s long ball tactics.
High lines exposed them to those high balls, a Harry Kane flick on and Son running in behind.
Yes, we were probably masters of our own downfall, but a side taking 8 points from the champions and runners up has probably never happened before. And will probably never happen again.
Tottenham also signed two players in January that made in impact. Meanwhile we took the risk and let a lot of players leave without getting in replacements.
Some would argue that the risk did not pay off as we missed out on top 4. But if the target was 5th, and that target was still the same in January, then surely the risk paid off?
Would we have finished 4th if we had kept Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang? I actually think probably not.
We were 7th following his last ever game. Following his exclusion (and eventual sale) we went on our best run of the season gaining 28 out of 33 points.
The honeymoon period is also clearly over for the Gabonese striker at Barcelona – he has just 4 goals in his last 12 games.
Had we signed Dusan Vlahovic in January, I think we would have finished 3rd. But once that deal did not materialise, we were correct in not signing someone else.
Big money spent on a striker that we did not really want would be big money we would be unable to spend this summer. And signing a Dominc Calvert-Lewis or Alexander Isak in January might not have got us that 4th placed finished.
So in summary, I am happy with our 2021/22 season.
We now need a repeat of last summers transfer window – buy 3 players that come into our first team and a further 2 or 3 that improve the squad.
Let us know your thoughts on the season in the comments.
Thanks for reading this year.
Personally think it was a good season for us and had any other team pipped us to 4th spot we`d have all be happy with it. There`s plenty of improvement to come from us, most of our players have the potential to go to a whole new level. What we now need, as you`ve mentioned, is to get our next 2 or 3 big signings right. We probably need to sign at least 4 or 5 players this summer to bolster the squad but we desperately need 2 or 3 players to come in and have an immediate impact on the first team. The top 2 teams are in a different league to the rest of us but I don`t think we`re too far away from the likes of Chelsea. We could easily finish above them next season in my opinion. On the other hand, such is the nature of todays PL, we could actually improve next season and finish lower down the table. We`ve just got to forget about other clubs and concentrate on improving our team. Big summer ahead.
By the way, cheers for the blog. One of the few I bother reading.
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I thought it was a respectable season, I firmly believe you finish where you deserve to finish.
I believe we suffered from not having Europa league football. Especially in the early stages, where the level of opponent means we can give playing time to squad players. Players who later in the season were brought into the first team with very limited playing time and at times performing like startled rabbits caught in the cars headline.
Agree about finishing where you deserve to finish. You could argue that teams with nothing to play for towards the end of the season might end up finishing a few places lower or higher than they might have otherwise but teams fighting for European places or against relegation finish exactly where they deserve to in my opinion. Sadly, we weren`t quite good enough to get Champions League football. The Yids are a better team than us at the minute but I have to laugh at the silly cunts who are claiming its down to the managers in charge. I think we`ve been one of the best coached teams this season, far better than Spurs. We`re in the middle of a complete rebuild with a team full of youngsters. We`re lacking that bit of star quality but we`ve got players who could well move into that category over the next couple of years. Lets be honest here, if we had that gormless looking cunt Kane up top we`d have finished 3rd easy. The Yids were almost totally reliant on Son & Kane this year but they wont maintain that level for very much longer and good luck trying to replace them two. The rest of Tottinghams team is no better than ours and I`d be amazed if we don`t improve past them over the next few years. As for the Europa League, I`m not sure our young squad could have dealt with it this season, we`ve looked mentally jaded for a few month now but with another season under their belts and a few additional signings there is no reason for us not to go all out for that trophy next year. Plus, the final is in Budapest and that`s a place I`ve always wanted to visit anyway.
Where does this ‘ending 5th was our main target’ come from. Who on earth decides their main target is to miss out on the CL by one place? I’d love to be in that board meeting with Arteta. ‘Targets this year Mr Arteta?’ ‘I thought we’d aim to just miss out on the CL’ ‘Excellent and very sensible lack of ambition’. Job done then. As usual, complete and utter nonsense from a blogger who has no idea what he’s talking about but, boy, you are so entertaining – in all the wrong ways obviously. 4th was there for the taking all season. Arsenal totally blew it but, heh, at least they hit their target