We ended the season with five straight wins.
61 points is not good enough, but it is five better than last season's total.
We reached a European semifinal.
Arteta seems to have figured out who he needs to play, finally.
Luiz is moving on, and there is some clarity about who should follow him.
As much as I wanted Arsenal to be playing in Europe next season, there is something to be said for the added time and focus on league play that can be spent without the distraction of a lower-tier cup competition.
Arteta is being backed by management.
All right, now progress has to be demonstrated. While some additions will undoubtedly be made this window, and they will probably help, most of this progress must be generated from the players we have. My suggestions:
Departures: Let Lucas Torreira go back to Argentina. I really like him, but he'd be way down the pecking order in midfield. Sell Guendouzi for whatever we can get. He's a head case. Try very hard to move Willian on--what a mistake his signing was! We can't afford Odegaard and we don't need Ceballos. Mavrapanos is so far down the depth chart that he has to go, though I suppose another loan can't hurt. Bellerin wants to go, possibly to Real Betis, so let him, as much as he adds to the team. He's still got a lot of football in him, but the Arsenal phase of his career appears to be over. I still like Lacazette, but apparently Mikel has fallen out of love and this is a good time to part ways. Nketieh and Nelson are fine players but not what we need to get better; they might be happier elsewhere, and we might get decent money for them.
Internal additions: Bring Joe Willock back and play him. With a little improvement in decision making, he can be a huge asset, filling the Ramsey-shaped hole in our midfield. Besides Willock, I'd promote Balogun to the senior team and stick him in for Auba if he's not doing the business for us. Saliba has to be integrated into the corps of central defenders (Holding, Gabriel, Mari) that will do a good job. If he can be happy playing fullback, I'd like Maitland-Niles there. He was quite good.
New guys: If we don't have a very good GK in the youth ranks ready for promotion, Mat Ryan or some other solid backup has to be found for Leno, who I still have a lot of confidence in. Runarson is not good enough. We have to replace Hector and get a good backup for Tierney. AMN is one possibility, but the market may have to be tested. Cedric is not the answer. We have to get another ESR/Odegaard type in the midfield, someone who can combine and create. If it's Odegaard, great, but I don't think we'll shell out what Madrid will ask.
Arsenal was one of the younger teams in the league even with Luiz, Willian, and Auba driving up our average. It's reasonable to hope that Saka, ESR, Martinelli, Tierney, Willock, and Saliba will be as good or better next season. I'd keep Elneny and Xhaka, though the former's minutes may be limited. We have not seen the best of Partey. He could own midfield for us 100% fit. Pepe is very good and needs more time on the field.
I'm optimistic. But I'm always optimistic before the first ball is kicked. I think it's going to come together and we'll contend for top four, and without Stan dipping far into his couch cushions for loose millions.