Mikel Arteta sack justification met as Arsenal debate Man Utd season success after FA Cup win

Arsenal and Manchester United have had different seasons but who had the better campaign?
-Credit: (Image: Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Well, they have a trophy and Arsenal don’t so you would expect this to be a simple answer would you not? The answer is of course, no, they haven’t had a better season despite the clamour from Manchester United supporters to suddenly post images of Erik ten Hag holding aloft the FA Cup.

It is important to preface this explanation that this is not an attempt to denigrate the FA Cup or claim it is not a major trophy, because it most certainly is. Instead, this is a reasonable reflection on both Arsenal and Manchester United's seasons, culminating, spoiler alert, in the conclusion that the Gunners have still had a better campaign.

Last season, Arsenal finished second some way behind Manchester City after their surprise title challenge flittered away after a string of disappointing results brought about seemingly by the catalyst of losing both William Saliba and Takehiro Tomiyasu to season-ending injuries. Man United meanwhile managed a third-place finish despite all the criticism toward Ten Hag.

Looking at the league seasons alone for 2023/24, both clubs have dramatically diverged. Arsenal went on to compete for the title in what would become a solely two-horse race by the end finishing, just two points behind champions City. They scored more goals, 91, than in any previous Arsenal Premier League season, picking up more wins, 28, than the Invincibles.

Man United meanwhile dropped to their worst-ever Premier League finish, eighth. This brings back ironic memories for Arsenal fans who saw the club finish in such a position in 2019/20 and 2020/21 – however, both were at the start of Arteta's tenure which included an FA Cup of their own in 2020 and of course the chaos of the Covid-19 pandemic which caused upheaval in the league.

Of the two clubs, only one remains in a quandary of whether or not to keep hold of their manager. Man United supporters remain fractured on the subject whereas Arsenal fans have never been more united, no pun intended, regarding Arteta.

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Furthermore, let me propose this scenario that Arsenal having finished second last season dropped instead to eighth in the table. Regardless of an FA Cup win, I am not sure there would be any justification no matter how many injuries – especially with the number sixth-placed Chelsea had, of falling that far down without making the decision to part ways with the coach.

Progression is key for the club and ensuring that they continue to fight for elite honours has been the bedrock of Arteta’s tenure so far. The fans can have their fun for now but those not concerned about what is coming down the road for Arsenal should open their eyes.

One of the most important jobs for the club this summer remains securing the renewal of Arteta’s current contract which expires at the end of the next season. For United, it is deciding whether to sack Ten Hag and replace the Dutchman with someone who can arrest the slide that continues to perpetuate at Old Trafford.