Arsenal missed out on Champions League football despite beating Burnley 3-1 at Turf Moor on Sunday.
Needing to win and an eight-goal swing in goal difference with Spurs, Arsenal’s win was ultimately in vain after Spurs grabbed a point against Everton. Arsenal will reflect on a poor end to their league campaign – this was their first win since April 15th – and the Gunners hope for redemption in Baku against Chelsea in the Europa League. Burnley ended the season in a respectable 15th place on the once magic 40 point mark.
The first half saw Arsenal start slowly and with the direct, streetwise style of Chris Wood and Ashley Barnes often too much for makeshift centre back duo Mustafi and Mavropanos; Emery’s side were grateful for the introduction of Laurent Koscielny to keep things level at half time.
Arsenal were gifted the lead on 52 minutes after Ben Mee’s error allowed Aubameyang to stroll through and slide past Tom Heaton, eleven minutes later Iwobi manoeuvred some space in a packed penalty area before floating to the back post allowing Aubameyang to thump a volley in a go to the top of the Golden Boot rankings.
Burnley briefly threatened a comeback two minutes later as Ashley Barnes headed in a Gudmundsson cross. That goal meant Arsenal kept one away clean sheet all season – a game in which Watford played with ten men for 80 minutes.
Arsenal held firm and sealed the win in injury time when Iwobi set up youngster Eddie Nketiah who slotted home to confirm the win. Burnley will be glad to see the back of a difficult season that started against Aberdeen in July and eventually ended with safety. Arsenal will regret a season when Tottenham, Chelsea and Manchester United struggled but they still finished fifth.
Inconsistent Aubameyang the Golden Boot winner
It perhaps feels churlish to label Aubameyang as inconsistent on the day he sealed a Golden Boot. The Gabon international shared the award with fellow Africans Salah and Mane – the first three-way tie since 1998/99.
As with Harry Kane’s golden boot at the World Cup, the quality of opposition and timing of the goals is irrelevant and Aubameyang deserves every credit for scoring 22 league goals at a rate of a goal every 124 minutes.
However if Arsenal are to progress does Aubameyang need to do more? Like a batsman who scores his runs in easy wins on lovely batting pitches to keep his average up, Aubameyang has tended to save his goals for the smaller sides.
He scored a penalty against Tottenham and Manchester United and another lovely goal against Spurs, otherwise 16 of his goals have come against the bottom half. Aswell as being the highest goalscorer he was the highest in the “big chances missed” rankings and the only striker in the race for Golden Boot to underscore his xG.
Added to the fact his fellow striker and players player of the year, Alexandre Lacazette has often looked a better team player, leader and focal point it seems obvious that Aubameyang needs to use the Golden Boot as a springboard to an even higher, more consistent level of performance next season if Arsenal are to improve.
Arsenal will rue missed opportunity
The end of season form of the top four challengers has been much discussed and mocked and often forgets the fact that Tottenham, Chelsea and Arsenal had incredible early season form.
However, the fact remains Arsenal have blown a great opportunity for the top-four. Manchester United have won eight points in their last nine league games, Chelsea won four of their last 10 league games and Tottenham lost Harry Kane and won only 11 points in their last 12 games.
Despite this Arsenal contrived to finish a point outside the top four having failed to beat Crystal Palace and Brighton at home in the last month and slumping to defeat at Leicester and Wolves.
Arsenal have now failed to finish in the top four for three seasons, and whilst there have been signs of progress this year, Emery must improve their intensity against the bottom 14 if they are to gain top-four qualification next season.
Burnley glad for summer
A long season for Burnley has come to an end and they will be grateful for a post-Christmas run of form that kept them in the league.
As many others have discovered Europa League qualification can be a burden, and whilst Burnley have a good starting eleven, their squad was always likely to be stretched by Europa League games starting in July.
With Heaton and Pope as good as any set of goalkeepers in the league, James Tarkowski, Ashley Westwood and Ben Mee solid operators in defence and midfield Burnley will have a good base next year. And then with the emergence of Dwight McNeil and with Chris Wood and Ashley Barnes both reaching double figures, the future still looks bright for Burnley.
With a good summer behind them, Burnley should again be challenging the top-seven rather than battling relegation next season.
Dyche hidden in plain sight?
There is often talk of the lack of chances for English managers and whilst Eddie Howe gets constantly linked with big jobs, Sean Dyche is rarely linked with a move away. The job Dyche has done again this season suggests he could organise any of the sides outside of the top 6 and with a bigger budget could do a job at a higher level.
Missing Ozil the ultimate liability
The German was again out of the squad in what could have been a vital day. The teams highest wage earner has now played only 56 percent of the minutes in the last two seasons and finishes the season with five goals and 2 assists; quite frankly embarrassing numbers.
With a litany of reasons for missing tough away games – illness, backache and not fitting in the system – Ozil is fast becoming the person at work who can’t do weekends and bank holidays and needs five cigarette breaks and six coffee breaks to get anything done. His continued presence at the club on a reported £350,000 a week is the first thing Emery needs to address in a vital preseason.