Arsenal and the prospects of a push for the top four next season

It seems to be the same question ahead of every Premier league season and whether Arsenal can finish within the top four and ultimately get back into the all-important Champions league. The current betting odds has the side at a general 11/2, which really gives an idea of the slump of Arsenal in recent years and overall, how competitive the top four battle is each season. This conquestador casino review can be found here and this platform is offering this and other Premier league markets that are proving popular amongst fans prior to the season getting started. You now have to go back to the 2015/16 season where Arsenal did finish in the top four and this was a second placed finish behind surprise winners Leicester City but since it has certainly been seasons of frustration for the side.

Looking at last season for example and it turned out to be a very poor season from Arsenal, with many of the leading players in the squad failing to fire and having a clear dip in form, which ultimately led to the finishing position of the side. Arsenal finished 8th of the 20 sides and were just six points from finishing in the bottom half of the table. This is so far behind what would be expected from the side, as they were really looking to build on a positive finish to the previous season. Arsenal finished with 61 points from their 38 matches played, that included 18 wins, seven draws and a further 13 losses. This performance is why they are the odds of 11/2 to finish in the top four, but they still have many quality players, so they will be hoping they can defy these odds and get back to Champion’s league football, through a top four finish.

The big question now is how the side will perform next season and much of this could come down to how and if they investment is being made to the squad. Ben White continues to be a player that appears to be heading to the Emirates stadium and it now does look like it is a question of when, despite Chelsea joining the chase for the exciting 23 year old. Arsenal had also been reported to be in for Sergio Ramos, but this looks off the cards, as he is rumoured to have agreed terms with Paris Saint-Germain, since he left Real Madrid. Another two players who appear to have a solid chance of joining Arsenal are Nuno Tarares of Benfica and Anderlecht midfielder Albert Sambia Lakonga. Hopefully both signings can be wrapped up and it would then look like a potential exciting season ahead for Arsenal.

Arsenal fixtures 2021/22: Gunners start with Bees & Chelsea

Arsenal will start their 2021/22 Premier League campaign away at newcomers Brentford on Friday August 14, live on Sky Sports.

Mikel Arteta’s side, who finished a disappointing eighth in the Premier League table, then have a London derby at the Emirates against European champions Chelsea on August 22, before going to current champions Manchester City on August 28.

Arsenal’s first north London derby comes on the weekend of September 25 at home to Tottenham, while the return fixture will be on the weekend of January 15 at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

Arsenal’s Boxing Day fixture is at newly-promoted Norwich, they will host Manchester City on New Year’s Day, and their final game of the season is at home to Everton on May 22.

This will be the first league meeting between Brentford and Arsenal since May 1947, a match the Gunners won 1-0 at Griffin Park.

Arsenal’s 2021/22 Premier League fixtures

All fixtures subject to change.

August

13: Brentford (a) – 8pm, live on Sky Sports

22: Chelsea (h) – 4.30pm, live on Sky Sports

28: Manchester City (a) – 12.30pm

September

11: Norwich City (h) – 3pm

18: Burnley (a) – 3pm

25: Tottenham (h) – 3pm

October

2: Brighton (a) – 3pm

16: Crystal Palace (h) – 3pm

23: Aston Villa (h) – 3pm

30: Leicester City (a) – 3pm

November

6: Watford (h) – 3pm

20: Liverpool (a) – 3pm

27: Newcastle United (h) – 3pm

30: Manchester United (a) – 8pm

December

4: Everton (a) – 3pm

11: Southampton (h) – 3pm

14: West Ham (h) – 7.45pm

18: Leeds United (a) – 3pm

26: Norwich City (a) – 3pm

28: Wolves (h) – 3pm

January

1: Manchester City (h) – 3pm

15: Tottenham (a) – 3pm

22: Burnley (h) – 3pm

February

8: Wolves (a) – 7.45pm

12: Chelsea (a) – 3pm

19: Brentford (h) – 3pm

26: Liverpool (h) – 3pm

March

5: Watford (a) – 3pm

12: Leicester City (h) – 3pm

19: Aston Villa (a) – 3pm

April

2: Crystal Palace (a) – 3pm

9: Brighton (h) – 3pm

16: Southampton (a) – 3pm

23: Manchester United (h) – 3pm

30: West Ham (a) – 3pm

May

7: Leeds United (h) – 3pm

15: Newcastle United (a) – 3pm

22: Everton (h) – 4pm

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Key dates for the 2021/22 season

The 2021/22 Premier League will start on Saturday, August 14 – 34 days after the Euro 2020 final at Wembley.

The season will end on May 22 2022, with all 10 games kicking off at the same time.

The 2021/22 EFL season will kick-off on Saturday August 7.

Next season’s League One campaign will finish on the weekend of April 30 2022, with League Two and the Championship on one of May 7 and May 8 respectively.

The League One play-off final will then be held on Saturday, May 21, the League Two play-off final on Saturday May 28, and the Championship play-off final on Sunday, May 29.

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Arteta: ‘Strong character’ Saka will be fine

Bukayo Saka is a “strong character” who will withstand the racist abuse he suffered after England’s Euro 2020 final defeat, says Mikel Arteta.

Arsenal manager Arteta has spoken to the 19-year-old, who, along with England team-mates Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho, was targeted on social media following their missed penalties in Sunday’s shootout loss to Italy at Wembley.

The racist abuse has received widespread condemnation, including from England boss Gareth Southgate, Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the Football Association, while a Metropolitan Police investigation is ongoing.

Asked whether he had personally been in contact with Saka, Arteta told Sky Sports News: “Yes, I have. We all have, I think, spoken to him, sent messages.

“He will be fine. He is such a strong character. He has received a lot of love and support from world football, not only with Arsenal but the national team and all the English fans because he doesn’t deserve anything like [what] he has been through.”

Bukayo Saka was one of three England players to be targeted on social media with racist abuse after the Euro 2020 final
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Bukayo Saka was one of three England players to be targeted on social media with racist abuse after the Euro 2020 final

Saka, who made his England debut as recently as October 2020, was a regular for Arsenal under Arteta last season and went on to feature in four games under Southgate at the European Championship.

“He has had a phenomenal season,” added Arteta, who was speaking after the club lost 2-1 to Hibernian in a pre-season friendly on Tuesday.

“In football, you want to be part of the greatest, you have to know today, at 19, that you lose more than you win unfortunately in this game and there are no exceptions to that rule.”

The Prime Minister met with social media companies at Downing Street earlier on Tuesday to discuss how to better tackle online abuse.



Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford were targeted with racist abuse on social media after England's Euro 2020 final defeat








0:47

The racial abuse of athletes on social media could be close to reaching a ‘tipping point’ where victims decide to leave the platforms, according to New York Times reporter Ryan Mac.

Arteta insists now is the time to ensure meaningful progress occurs in stopping further hate and punishing perpetrators.

“Hopefully we can use now to make a strong statement and we have to stop racial abuse on social media and people using social media to hide and put people in really bad places.

“Hopefully the laws will become stronger. I think we are all going to try and make a strong case out of that and hopefully, it can have a big impact because I think it is the moment to put that right.”

Hate won’t win



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0:39

Jenson Button, Gary Lineker, Kelly Cates, Alan Shearer, Gary Neville, Micah Richards, Gabby Logan, Ebony-Rainford-Brent, Jamie Carragher, Jermaine Jenas, Jamie Redknapp and Nasser Hussain among BBC and Sky stars united against online hate.

Sky Sports is committed to making skysports.com and our channels on social media platforms a place for comment and debate that is free of abuse, hate and profanity.

For more information, please visit: www.skysports.com/againstonlinehate

If you see a reply to Sky Sports posts and/or content with an expression of hate on the basis of race, sex, colour, gender, nationality, ethnicity, disability, religion, sexuality, age or class, please copy the URL to the hateful post and screengrab it and email us here.

Kick It Out reporting racism

Online Reporting Form | Kick It Out

Kick It Out is football’s equality and inclusion organisation – working throughout the football, educational and community sectors to challenge discrimination, encourage inclusive practices and campaign for positive change.

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Arsenal lose pre-season opener at Hibs

Arsenal’s pre-season preparations got off to a losing start as they were beaten 2-1 by Hibernian at Easter Road.

The Gunners, who included Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Willian, Eddie Nketiah and Ainsley Maitland-Niles in their starting line-up, were behind in the 21st minute as Martin Boyle pounced on goalkeeper Arthur Okonkwo’s error to hand Hibs the lead.

Half-time substitutes Nicolas Pepe and Thomas Partey both went close to an equaliser in the early stages of the second half, but Hibs capitalised on more defensive frailties from Arsenal as Daniel Mackay added a second.

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta during Arsenal's 2-1 defeat at Hibernian
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Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta during Arsenal’s 2-1 defeat at Hibernian

Arsenal spurned a late opportunity as Kevin Dabrowski brilliantly kept out Pepe’s penalty, but the Gunners did eventually get their goal as Emile Smith Rowe turned home Hector Bellerin’s cross.

However, it wasn’t enough to stop defeat as Hibernian held on for victory in what was a much-needed workout for Mikel Arteta’s side.

Arsenal’s pre-season continues on Saturday when they face Scottish champions Rangers (kick off 2pm), while Hibernian are back in action on Friday at Raith Rovers (kick-off 7pm).

How Arsenal stumbled at Hibernian…

Nketiah, who has been linked with a move away from the Emirates Stadium this summer, was handed an early chance to impress but the England U21 striker, who was one-on-one with former Gunners goalkeeper Matt Macey, fired the ball wide of the target.

Eddie Nketiah misses a chance to open the scoring for Arsenal at Easter Road
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Eddie Nketiah misses a chance to open the scoring for Arsenal at Easter Road

Arsenal continued to put the hosts under pressure and Macey had to be alert to deny Reiss Nelson before Nketiah headed another chance wide.

However, Arteta’s side’s positive start was undone by an awful moment for young keeper Okonkwo, who was making his debut for the Gunners. The 19-year-old failed to deal with Cedric Soares’ back pass and missed the bouncing ball, allowing Boyle to tap into an empty net.

Martin Boyle (R) celebrates his goal to make it 1-0
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Martin Boyle (R) celebrates his goal to make it 1-0

Okonkwo would have been feeling better moments later as he kept out Boyle’s long-range effort before Steven Bradley’s low strike hit the upright as Hibs pressed for a second just before the half-time interval.

Arsenal made a number of changes at the break as Okonkwo, Harry Clarke, Maitland-Niles, Nelson, Nketiah, Willian and Aubameyang made way for Karl Jakob Hein, Omar Rekik, Smith Rowe, Pepe, Partey, Alexandre Lacazette and Folarin Balogun, while Dąbrowski replaced Macey in goal for Hibs, and he was thrust straight into the action, producing a superb save to keep out Pepe’s goal-bound free kick.

Arsenal's Thomas Partey during a pre-season friendly at Hibernian
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Arsenal’s Thomas Partey during a pre-season friendly at Hibernian

There were more changes for both sides as Bellerin replaced Cedric for the Gunners, while Josh Campbell and Drey Wright replaced Scott Allan and Bradley for the hosts.

Arsenal went close to an equaliser when Partey’s powerful free kick had Dabrowski beaten, but the ball rattled the inside of the post as Hibernian survived.

Kevin Dabrowski saves Nicolas Pepe's penalty
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Kevin Dabrowski saves Nicolas Pepe’s penalty

And the Scottish side went on to capitalise on more poor defensive work from Arsenal as Mackay ghosted in unmarked at the far post from a corner to head home and extend Hibs’ lead further.

Arsenal did have the chance to get back into the game late on as a push on Balogun in the Hibs box resulted in a penalty, but Pepe’s spot kick was saved by Dabrowski to somewhat sum up the Gunners’ evening.

They did get on the score sheet late on as Smith Rowe converted Bellerin’s inviting cross, but it proved to be only a consolation.

Emile Smith Rowe scores for Arsenal to reduce Hibernian's lead
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Emile Smith Rowe scores for Arsenal to reduce Hibernian’s lead

What the managers said…



EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - JULY 13: Hibernian manager Jack Ross (L) and Arsenal boss Mike Arteta at full time during a pre-season friendly between Hibernian and Arsenal at Easter Road, on July 13, 2021, in Edinburgh, Scotland (Photo by Ross Parker / SNS Group)








1:51

Hibernian boss Jack Ross and Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta have their say after the Scottish Premiership side won 2-1 in a pre-season friendly at Easter Road.

Hibernian boss Jack Ross: “It’s an important part of our preparations for next Thursday and we were fortunate to have such high calibre opposition to play. So, we had to work incredibly hard without the ball.

“The fact that they changed their team at half time as well meant that both sides we faced in each half had an energy about them.



EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - JULY 13: Hibernian manager Jack Ross during a pre-season friendly between Hibernian and Arsenal at Easter Road, on July 13, 2021, in Edinburgh, Scotland (Photo by Ross Parker / SNS Group)








0:54

Hibs manager Jack Ross says he wants another defender and striker and revealed he will hold talks with owner Ron Gordon this week.

“So, delighted with the work we put into the game. I was delighted with the threat we offered as well and you want to develop the habit of winning games as quickly as you can, particularly as you get close to your first competitive game.

“Overall, it was just a really good night for us.”



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1:19

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta says he has spoken to Bukayo Saka following England’s defeat to Italy and says he is a strong character and will be fine.

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta: “Well I’m always disappointed when we lose a football match but it is the first game, we played with many kids and we only had four training sessions. We’ve trained really hard and you could see that the players were a little bit leggy.

“I think we conceded the first goal, an accident, and the second goal was clearly offside. We created many, many chances but we didn’t score. That’s what pre-season is for, to take the things that we haven’t done well into a training session and then improve.

He knows that it is a part of the game he needs to get better at. We are working on it a lot and you could see the positions that he took today. He created two or three big chances.

Arteta on Emile Smith Rowe’s goal

On whether the lack of training so far explains the performance, Arteta added:It does but there’s no excuse because we want to come here and win the match.

“They worked really hard, the boys worked really hard and you could see that some of them were not in the best condition, but we’re still very early in pre-season. It was great to see some of the young lads making their debuts here. We’ll keep working.”

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Arsenal sign Benfica defender Tavares

Arsenal have signed Portugal U21 defender Nuno Tavares from Benfica.

The 21-year-old, who is the Gunners’ first signing of the summer in a deal reportedly worth around £8m, will join up with his team-mates in north London once he has completed his isolation period.

Tavares came through the Benfica youth system and has made a total of 25 appearances for the club since making his first-team debut in the Portuguese Super Cup win over Sporting Lisbon in August 2019.

“When I finished the season my agent told me that Arsenal were interested in me,” Tavares told the club’s official website.

“In the first instance I was very happy and after this I dreamed about it, and [spoke about it] with my mum. I was so excited to be here, and now I’m here I’m so happy.

“I’m so excited because it is a big club and for me as a young guy, it is a pleasure to be here.

“Mikel [Arteta] and Edu helped me so much. They speak with me every time, and call me and I feel people want me here. I like that because I need this power and I’m so grateful for this.”

“We welcome Nuno to the club,” Arsenal manager Arteta said.

“He is a young player with great promise who has developed very well with Benfica in recent seasons and has also shown his quality by being part of Portugal U21s.

Arsenal manager Mikel Artet (L) and Director of Football Edu (R) unveil new signing Nuno Tavares at London Colney on July 10, 2021 in St Albans, England.
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Nuno Travares (c) with Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta (l) and technical director Edu

“Nuno’s arrival will give the squad extra strength and options in defence, particularly with this energy on the left side of the pitch.

“We look forward to Nuno’s arrival soon, his integration into the Arsenal family and playing in front of our fantastic supporters.”

Technical director Edu said: “Nuno is a talented young player who was wanted by a number of clubs across Europe.

“He will provide strong back-up in the left-back position. We look forward to him growing and developing with us and becoming an important member of the first-team squad.”

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