There was a time when Arsenal were once mocked for celebrating finishing fourth in the Premier League, such was their previous success under Arsene Wenger.
It was supposedly a representation of how far The Gunners had fallen. Three years on from the legendary Frenchman’s departure, the club are in a bleak situation that makes their ‘celebration’ pale in comparison.
A 2-1 aggregate defeat against Villarreal in the semi-final of the Europa League was narrow, yet it regurgitated the all too familiar feeling of Arsenal falling short when it mattered most. That it came at the hands of their former boss Unai Emery only doubled the misery.
Their exit from the competition effectively ended their hopes of playing European football next season, ending a run of 26 years of consecutively playing across the continent, with the club languishing in ninth place in the Premier League.
Some will view it next season as an opportunity for Arsenal to reset and look to the future, blooding more youngsters from their esteemed academy after the emergence of Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe.
The vocal sections of the Arsenal fanbase have called for owner Stan Kroenke to sell up in order to facilitate much-needed changes at the club, but their protests have fallen on deaf ears in trying to convince the American and son Josh to leave.
So where does that leave the north London outfit heading into the summer? Mirror Sport takes a look at Arsenal’s state of play…
When results are unfavourable and the team is falling short of expectations, the spotlight tends to switch to the coach. In this case, Mikel Arteta can have no complaints if he is relieved of his duties.
In his first managerial role, Arteta has shown glimpses of the ability which saw him develop his philosophy drawing inspiration from his mentor Pep Guardiola.
But the league table doesn’t lie — and under his rule, Arsenal are set for a second successive finish outside the top six.
The Spaniard has cleared out any signs of toxicity within the club, with Mesut Ozil departing for Fenerbahce and Matteo Guendouzi loaned to Hertha Berlin. Still, problems remain over their playing style and ability to win crucial games.
Arteta’s dealings in the transfer market do not exactly breed confidence that the 39-year-old will get it right when the summer transfer window opens on July 1.
Thomas Partey was an expensive signing at £45million but is yet to shine, while Martin Odegaard’s performances have been encouraging yet inconsistent. Dani Ceballos is set to head back to Real Madrid at the end of the season after a disappointing second season in England.
His future lies in the hands of chief executive Vinai Venkatesham and sporting director Edu, who must decide whether Arteta is still the man to take them forward after a season to forget.
Potential arriv als
Yves Bissouma is regarded as the man who could solve Arteta’s midfield conundrum, with the Gunners thought to be keen to add a box-to-box specialist to their squad.
Signing a new goalkeeper seems to be a priority after the sale of Emiliano Martinez last summer. Bernd Leno’s form has been questioned after a series of costly errors, while Mat Ryan is set to return to Brighton following his loan spell.
Ajax stopper Andre Onana is reportedly a target, but any move for the Cameroonian is complicated by his appeal to overturn a doping ban. Arteta has also poured cold water on any suggestion Wojciech Szczesny could return to the Emirates Stadium.
The Telegraph report Lyon duo Joachim Andersen and Moussa Dembele, on loan at Fulham and Atletico Madrid respectively, could make a £45m double switch amid interest from the Gunners.
But without European football to rely on and an apparent lack of funds available to spend, Arsenal may have to sell before considering making summer signings.
Departures and contracts
Doubts remain over whether top goalscorer Alexandre Lacazette will put pen to paper on a new contract, with his current deal set to expire in 2022.
With Atletico among those to have registered an interest, the 29-year-old may seek a new challenge and Arsenal could be forced to cash in.
Lacazette’s potential departure could be the first of many, with Arteta recently hinting he has held discussions with Edu to run the rule over players currently out on loan.
“There is so many things to do because we already have a lot of players on loan, a lot of players with contracts that still we have to sort,” Arteta said.
“It will depend a lot on what happens with those players and what we are able to recruit to improve the team is going to determine where we are.”
There is likely to be another summer clear-out at the Emirates, with Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Lucas Torreira, William Saliba, Joe Willock and Sead Kolasinac tipped to head for the exit — and offloading them could raise significant funds for potential arrivals.
David Luiz is out of contract this summer and the 34-year-old could decide to move on, having previously stated his desire to return to Benfica before he retires.