Two trophies won and a cup final – What Arsenal's season could have been with Jurrien Timber fit

Jurrien Timber in action during the Premier League match between Arsenal and Nottingham Forest at Emirates Stadium

After nine months out thanks to an anterior cruciate ligament injury, Jurrien Timber could return to the Arsenal squad against Bournemouth. But how could the Gunners' season have gone if the Dutchman never got injured?

Timber signed for Arsenal from Ajax in the summer transfer window for a fee in the region of £38million, and after impressing in pre-season, the defender was given the worst news possible as he picked up an ACL injury on the opening day of the Premier League season. But, Timber has returned to action with the Arsenal Under-21s side in recent weeks, and the 22-year-old could return to Mikel Arteta's squad for the final few games of the season.

Despite the Gunners' fantastic campaign so far, the one position which Arsenal could still improve is the left-back role, with Oleksandr Zinchenko, Takehiro Tomiyasu, and Jakub Kiwior all rotating on the left side of defence. So, if Timber had been fit all season long to play for Arsenal at left-back, how could the season have gone? Let's take a look.

Arsenal's 2024/25 season simulated with no Timber injury

To set up this simulation, we used Football Manager 2024 to simulate the 2023/24 season, giving Timber a chance to play his first season at the club with no injuries. This is what happened.

In the simulation, Timber was a regular name on Arteta's teamsheet, with the defender making 48 appearances for the Gunners across all competitions. Only six players made more, showing how important he was when fit.

Arsenal's most capped players from the 2023/24 season
Arsenal's most capped players from the 2023/24 season -Credit:Football Manager

In the 48 games, Timber offered an attacking threat, grabbing a goal and eight assists while averaging a rating of 7.17 per game. Bukayo Saka was the best-performing player at the club, with the Englishman ending the campaign on 21 goals.

At the end of the 2023/24 season, Football Manager 2024 put together an overall best Arsenal XI, based on performances, statistics, and other metrics. This is what it looked like:

Arsenal's best XI from the simulation
Arsenal's best XI from the simulation -Credit:Football Manager 24

Full Arsenal best XI: (4-3-3): Raya; White, Saliba, Gabriel, Timber; Partey, Odegaard, Rice; Saka, Havertz, Martinelli.

Timber made the Arsenal best XI, with the 22-year-old starting at left-back alongside Gabriel, William Saliba, and Ben White in defence. Thomas Partey joined Declan Rice and Martin Odegaard in midfield, while Kai Havertz was the chosen striker, with Gabriel Jesus and Leandro Trossard missing out on spots in the front three.

With Timber in the squad, the Gunners improved in the Premier League, though they still went through a wobbly spell, with Arteta's side losing three games in March. However, form quickly peaked not long after, and a strong end to the season saw Arsenal lift the Premier League trophy.

Arsenal won the Premier League in the simulation
Arsenal won the Premier League in the simulation -Credit:Football Manager 24

29 wins, four draws, and five losses saw the Gunners end the season with 91 points, seven more than Liverpool in second and nine more than Man City in third. Arteta's side had the joint-best attack in the league, but they conceded more goals than Liverpool, meaning they gave up the best defensive record.

It wasn't just the Premier League that Arsenal won though. After easing through the group stages and beating Real Sociedad, Bayern Munich, and Manchester City in the knockouts, the Gunners lifted the Champions League for the first time, beating Borussia Dortmund 2-1 at Wembley.

Arsenal's won the Champions League in the season simulation
Arsenal's won the Champions League in the season simulation -Credit:Football Manager 24

Another trip to Wembley saw Arsenal face Man City in the Carabao Cup final, but the Gunners couldn't pick up a third trophy of the season, losing 3-1 to Pep Guardiola's side. Overall, FM24 predicts that with Timber in the squad, Arsenal could've had the league wrapped up with a few games to spare while also winning the Champions League in a ridiculously good season.