Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta believes the Gunners have overachieved this season. He credited his young side for their exploits but believes there's still a big gap between where they are and where they want to be.
The Gunners have lost their last two Premier League games, losing 3-0 against rivals Tottenham Hotspur and 2-0 against Newcastle United, to cede advantange to Spurs in the top-four race. They trail Spurs by two points going into the final day,
Tottenham face Norwich City in their last match (May 22), while the Gunners face struggling Everton on the same day. A draw will be enough for Spurs to qualify for next season's UEFA Champions League unless the Gunners overturn a +15 goal difference.
However, Arteta believes they can still look at this season in a positive light. He said on BBC Sport (via 90min):
"In a few weeks' time, when we are on holidays, and we look back at what we've done - whether we're in the Champions League or the Europa League - I think everybody would agree that we did more than was expected, for sure."
He also praised his team, the youngest starting XI in the Premier League this season. The Spaniard said:
"They have shown they have what it takes because what they have done; in the last ten seasons nobody has done it. It's something they have done, and that's credit to the team for what they have delivered. The thing is, where we want to be is not where we are today. We want to be the best, but that gap is still really big. A club with that age bracket in the starting XI on the pitch, it hasn't been done in this league."
"We've come a long way" - Mikel Arteta on Arsenal's 2021-22 season
Arteta added that the Gunners are on the right path and have already shown great progress. He said:
"We've come a long way with a lot of things, especially in who we are as a club and the connection between what we're doing and how people feel about it. That's really important as well, and it takes a long time to build that trust."
Arsenal finished eighth in the last two Premier League seasons. They also started this season with three consecutive losses.
So finishing fifth would be a great sign of progress for the Gunners even though they looked good to finish fourth only two gameweeks ago.
Paul Merson has predicted all the GW 1 fixtures of the Premier League. More details right here