Arsenal’s heavy defeat against Chelsea in the Europa League Final was a disappointing end to Unai Emery’s first season as manager.
The Gunners’ defensive weaknesses were brutally exposed as Chelsea produced a power-packed second-half performance to record a 4-1 victory.
However, it would be churlish to suggest Emery hasn’t got things heading in the right direction after the club had stagnated during the final years of Arsene Wenger’s reign.
Read on as we look at what Arsenal must do to progress next season.
Europa League drubbing was a harsh lesson
Arsenal were marginally the better side in the first-half of the final, but they were ruthlessly dismantled by Chelsea after the break.
The Gunners were all over the place defensively, highlighting the need for reinforcements in this area over the summer.
It is worth noting that Hector Bellerin and Rob Holding both missed the game through injury, and they will be welcome returnees next season.
Arsenal will be amongst the favourites to win next season’s competition and there will be plenty of punters eager to bet on them to do just that.
Time to wave goodbye to Ozil
Mesut Ozil had the perfect chance to showcase his talent against Chelsea, but once again failed to deliver in a big game.
Cesc Fabregas, Martin Keown and Eidur Gudjohnsen blasted his performance on BT Sport and it is impossible to disagree with their views.
On his day Ozil is a hugely gifted footballer, but he is a luxury that Arsenal simply cannot afford if they are to kick-on in the Premier League and Europe next season.
A move elsewhere would be the best outcome for all concerned and give Emery a little bit more financial leeway during the 2019 summer transfer window.
Youth the key to the future?
Failure to qualify for the Champions League will undoubtedly have slashed Emery’s transfer budget, but that doesn’t necessarily have to be a problem.
Arsenal have some talented youngsters at their disposal including Joe Willock, Emile Smith Rowe, Krystian Bielik and Reiss Nelson – all of whom could be pushing for first-team roles next season.
Willock in particular highlighted his promise with an excellent display after coming off the bench against Chelsea.
His enthusiasm was a breath of fresh air after Ozil’s lacklustre performance and he will hopefully be handed the chance to shine next season.
Season 2019/20 prediction
Emery has plenty of work to do if Arsenal are to become a major force in England and Europe, but he has laid some promising foundations his first season in charge.
A title challenge next term is unlikely, but with question marks hanging over the likes of Chelsea and Manchester United there is no reason why Arsenal can’t finish in the top four.
Success in one of the domestic cups should be a priority, while Emery’s previous record in the Europa League points to another long run in UEFA’s secondary club competition.