After being eliminated from the Europa League by Villarreal at the semi-final stage on Thursday night, Arsenal’s season is effectively over.
The Gunners need a miracle to qualify for Europa via the Premier League and have now blown their chance of qualifying for the Champions League through the back door.
Regardless of that though, it seems that Mikel Arteta is going to be given the chance to stay at the club and take them into next season where they will seek to recover from their worst campaign in 25 years.
Speaking ahead of his side’s match with West Brom on Sunday the Spaniard stated that he still believes Arsenal can achieve the ambitions he set out for them at the start of his reign.
“I know that we have disappointed a lot of people as well and that really hurts because we wanted to give the best to everything and to everybody,” he said.
“But what I think clear in mind is that if we are able to do what we want to do right now there is no doubts that we are going to achieve it. If not I wouldn’t be sat here.”
So, as thoughts begin to turn to next season who exactly should Arteta look to build his Gunners side around?
Here football.london takes a look at seven players who will almost certainly form the core for Arsenal in 2021/22.
The Scot clearly wasn’t fit to start the Europa League semi-final second leg against Villarreal but due to circumstances, he ended playing the entire 90 minutes.
That though should not detract from what a tremendous season Kieran Tierney has had, and the fact that he is still Arsenal’s leading chance creator from open play, despite missing around two months with injury shows how important he is to the Gunners attack.
Finding suitable back to the 23-year-old will be crucial going into next campaign, but there can be no doubting that when fit he is one of the first names on Arteta’s team sheet.
Thomas Partey is another who had a poor game on Thursday night, but again that should not cloud his role within the squad.
The Ghanaian has had rotten luck with injuries this season, but when used correctly instead of as a one-man midfield he has shown that he is capable of putting in some excellent displays.
In glimpses against Manchester United, Sheffield United and Wolves he has shown that he is only going to get better going into next season.
Emile Smith Rowe
One of the few players to have come away with much credit on Thursday night, Smith Rowe showed exactly why he is such a fan favourite with an energetic display and kept trying until the very last minute.
Far from being just blood and guts though, the England Under-21 international has considerable technical ability and is another who can really excel when used in the correct formation.
It is no coincidence that Arsenal began to rise up the table once he came into the team, and with the unique creativity he possesses, the 20-year-old will be key next campaign.
For so much of this season the 19-year-old has been relied upon to drag Arsenal out of trouble they have managed to get themselves into – and on most occasions, he has delivered.
It’s worth remembering that were it not for Saka‘s moment of brilliance in assisting Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in the final moments of the Round of 32 against Benfica or his calm finish against Slavia Prague in the quarter-finals, the Gunners would not even have had the chance to save their season next campaign.
While he isn’t likely to leave any time soon, the only concern now for Arteta is that the teenager may well be tempted by pastures new if Arsenal’s European exile continues.
Gabriel Martinelli has hardly been used this campaign but surely that cannot continue next campaign.
Since the turn of the year, he has started just four matches in total for Arsenal while underperforming players like Willian continue to be handed opportunities.
Patience is starting to run out with Arteta and his strange handling of the Brazilian’s development is one of the reasons why. If it persists then the Gunners boss may have some serious questions to answer.
By his own admission, this has been a difficult campaign for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
The Gabonese forward has had to deal with a loss of form, family illness, disciplinary issues and malaria, and unsurprisingly his goal-scoring form has suffered.
But with increasingly sharp displays against Newcastle and Villarreal, the Arsenal captain has shown what he can bring to the team if he is offered chances. The onus is now on Arteta to set up a team that can create them for him next season.
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The Frenchman is far from perfect and has moments of rashness that he will need to iron out from his game if he is ever to reach his potential.
But with European football likely no longer on the menu next season, the Gunners will likely trim their squad come the summer in a way that benefits the 19-year-old, who could get some valuable Premier League exposure after a decent loan spell with Nice.