Arsenal 2023/24 season review and player ratings: Saka 9, White 8, Ramsdale 5

So close and yet so far for Gunners who fell just short in Premier League title charge

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Season synopsis

Premier League final position: Second

Champions League: Quarter-finals; beaten 3-2 on aggregate by Bayern Munich

FA Cup: Third round; beaten 2-0 by Liverpool

League Cup: Fourth round; beaten 3-1 by West Ham United

It says something about who won the Premier League title that Arsenal could only finish as runners-up despite winning 16 of the final 18 games of the season, losing just once in 2024.

Mikel Arteta's side would be celebrating their first league crown since 2003/04 had it not been for the relentless machine that is Manchester City, who finished top of the pile by two points.

But the Gunners should still take great pride at pushing one of the all-time great English club sides all the way to the final day of a season when anything less than a City win would have seen the title heading to North London.

Arsenal ended the campaign having scored the second most goals (91, five behind City), conceded the fewest (29, five fewer than next best City) and having registered their best ever goal difference (+62) in the Premier League era.

The only dip in form came during a troublesome December when Arsenal lost three times in five games – against Aston Villa, West Ham and Fulham – which would ultimately prove costly. Any hopes of winning a domestic knockout competition ended disappointingly early with third and fourth-round exits in the FA Cup and League Cup, respectively.

More impressive was their first Champions League campaign since 2016/17, which saw them ease into the knockout stages after finishing four points clear at the top of a group that included PSV Eindhoven, Lens and Sevilla.

In the last 16, Arsenal edged past Porto on penalties after the match finished 1-1 on aggregate and after extra-time in North London, which secured them quarter-final clash against Bayern Munich and their old Tottenham Hotspur nemesis Harry Kane. The England captain scored in the 2-2 first-leg draw at the Emirates Stadium before Joshua Kimmich's header in Germany ended Arsenal hopes of reaching the last four.

Best performance of the season

Arsenal 5 Chelsea 0: Plenty of options in a season when they thrashed West Ham, Sheffield United and Lens 6-0; smashed Sheffield United, Burnley and Crystal Palace 5-0, while also registering wins against the likes of Liverpool, Manchester United, Tottenham, Newcastle and – for the first time since time in the league since 2015 – Manchester City.

But with five games to go and the pressure firmly on in the title race, their demolition of London rivals Chelsea at the Emirates was a particular standout. Leandro Trossard scored the only goal of the first-half before two goals apiece from Ben White and Kai Havertz – against his old club – after break completed the rout.

Worst performance of the season

Arsenal 0 Aston Villa 2: Not a huge amount of choice considering how consistent – bar the December stumble – Arsenal were all campaign. West Ham twice proved a thorn in their side knocking them out of the League Cup in November then winning 2-0 at the Emirates in the league at the end of December.

But what turned out to be the final killer blow in their title hopes came with seven games to go when they were outplayed in North London by Aston Villa – managed by former Gunners chief Unai Emery. Late goals from Leon Bailey and Ollie Watkins earned Villa three points, completing a home and away double over Arsenal, and handed an advantage to Man City at the top of the table that they did not let go of.

Thriller of the season

Luton Town 3 Arsenal 4: The Gunners were involved in two exciting clashes with local rivals Spurs, drawing the first 2-2 at home when Son Heung-min twice levelled for Ange Postecolglou's men. Then, late in the season, Arsenal were coasting 3-0 at half-time only for Spurs to pull two goals back when Son's penalty ensured a nervy finale at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

But the real thriller came in December when Arsenal visited relegation-bound Luton at Kenilworth Road. The Hatters twice fought back from one down, even taking a 3-2 lead thanks to Ross Barkley's effort just before the hour mark, with goalkeeper David Raya at fault for two of the goals.

Kai Havertz quickly levelled the scores but it took a last-gasp header from Declan Rice seven minutes into injury time for the away side to snatch the victory and move them five points clear at the top of the table.

Player of the season

William Saliba: A very close call with several players in the mix. Summer signing Rice picked up from where he left off for the Gunners after guiding West Ham to Europa Conference glory last season with a lung-bursting campaign from start to finish. Captain Martin Odegaard led by example pulling the strings in midfield while Bukayo Saka, Kai Havertz and Trossard provided the scoring touch up front.

But Saliba was simply immense – a cool and calm presence at the back. The Frenchman's positioning and the timing of his tackles immaculate, while playing every game of Premier League season – and 50 across all competitions – tells you all you need to know about his reliability and consistency.

Goal of the season

Gabriel Martinelli v Sevilla: There were a couple of trademark Saka strikes in the mix, cutting inside from the right and slotting home stylishly against both Bayern Munich and Tottenham. And Leandro Trossard's winner at Everton after a fabulous team move and Jesus's thunderbolt finish into the top corner from an acute angle away to Sevilla in the Champions League merit mentions.

But there was an all-Brazilian goal in that same game in Spain that just edges the top award. Arsenal cleared the ball high into the air from their own penalty area before it was brought under control by Gabriel Jesus with a sublime first touch, followed by a Cruyff turn and perfect ball though to Martinelli, who carried the ball forward before coolly rounding the keeper and slotting home.

Updated: May 25, 2024, 4:16 AM