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‘It’s not Arteta’s fault!’ Nicholas explains Arsenal’s problems

Mikel Arteta, Arsenal
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The ex-Arsenal forward only graded his old club’s performance this season as a ‘D’ and explained what cost them in the Premier League.

Arsenal finished outside the top-six spot in the Premier League for the first time since 1994/95, finishing in eighth-place on a lowly 56 points.

It was a long way short of expectations for the London club, and another blow in their fall from grace.

Replacing Unai Emery with Mikel Arteta offered hope for the future, though. The Gunners improved under their former captain and reached the FA Cup final.

Victories against Premier League champions Liverpool and Manchester City were promising indications of Arteta’s impact.

Now Arsenal head to Wembley on Saturday to meet Chelsea in the FA Cup final, knowing victory will seal them a record 13th title and Europa League football for next season.

But while major silverware is always a plus, Charlie Nicholas concedes Arsenal are a work in progress and graded them as a ‘D’ for this season.

He feels 14 draws in the Premier League cost them dearly, resulting in a disappointing eight-place finish.

Although, like many Arsenal supporters, the former forward is certain Arteta has made progress.

“It’s not Mikel Arteta’s fault, it’s a club that have been in freefall and haven’t fixed things in six years,” Charlie told Sky Sports.

“They finished eighth because they only won 14 games – that’s the lowest I can recall in the Premier League era. I could probably look back while Arteta has come in and say why am I giving them a D?

“But I have to take it as a whole season. He’s made it better. I’m not a great man for stats, and his stats have not been great, but I think as Arsenal people we want to see progress and we are.

“There have been too many draws, I look at Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – his goals have been great, both goalkeepers have been good, and other than that, I’m looking at Bukayo Saka. But no other players of real substance.”