Arsenal, Spurs, Chelsea, Manchester United – how do the top four rivals compare?
So with the PL season upon us, how does Arsenal shape up versus the other top four contenders? The title is unlikely, though naturally not impossible. Liverpool battered Norwich City 4-1, and West Ham got tanked 5-0 by Man City. They definitely will head things up again.
I doubt we can pull off a Leicester though, and we may be in a direct fight with Tottenham, Chelsea, and Manchester United for the remaining two league-based Champions League spots.
We may have “won” the transfer window, due to having the best signings and addressing key areas best. But this alone isn’t enough – a better defensive structure is required too. As is proper integration of our new players, and the development of our existing outfit:
The old enemy – the “scum”
Our good “friends” from the Borough of Haringey haven’t won anything since 2008. And no FA Cup since 1991, and no league title since 1961.
Their CL final appearance was their first European final since the mid-1980s, and they literally haven’t had it as good in many areas since the 1960s and the late Billy Nicholson’s heyday. Even though we’re in the Europa League, we can still outdo them in transfers and outlays. It shows our scope and depth compared to theirs – they are a wannabe global brand. We ARE a global brand, and they know we’re on our way back up.
But with all fairness and objectivity, they have bought well in the window. And their new signing Tanguy Ndombele had a good debut vs. Aston Villa.
Tanguy Ndombele and Giovani Lo Celso are both international players with high billing, and will complement Wanyama, Sissoko and others in their midfield.
Pochettino may have won nothing – but he is a top coach nonetheless. This could be a season he looks to correct this record, despite him winning the London manager of the year award and facetiously claiming it as his first trophy.
Son and Kane are world-class, with the former being their best player last season, and the latter still scoring goals (though an Arsenal player won the Golden Boot….albeit jointly but no Spurs player won it..)
Eriksen, Moura, Verthonghen, Rose, and Alli are all good level players.
And their captain is the French WC 2018 winning captain.
Their defence is settled, and they do hold an overall healthy shape.
However, they did finish only one point above us in the league, and this was due to very fine margins. Auba missed a penalty vs. them, and some odd latter season results for both sides saw them finish above us.
Our chief challenger for top four
Tottenham is a good side, and they’ll be looking to win something for the first time since 2008. But they know we’re growing, and have acted in ways we should behave.
But the NLD at our place early in the season is key. Yes, anything can happen following this game. But it would be a prime psychological edge. We’re rivals, but part of their current narrative is that it’s “their time now”. They want to be a major world club, and wish to see us in our wake.
Though we’ve spent better and more than they have in the window – and we’re reforming and starting to act in the manner of our past selves in the market. This season could see the rivalry between us take a new spice.
Top four between us is on. But also the title of the “best of the rest” – and the heir to rival City and Liverpool’s qualities.
The Europa League final hurt, and the manner of the defeat was woeful. Though since then, things have fared differently for both clubs. David Luiz is evidently now a Gooner, and his departure from Chelsea both burnt bridges and raised tensions between himself and Chelsea.
Eden Hazard has left for Real Madrid, and they also have a transfer ban to contend with. They do have some good defenders though – in Rudiger and Christensen. Kante is still world-class, though their attack is weaker than ours.
And with club legend Frank Lampard returning, it may be a boon in sentimental terms. However, bar nearly reaching the PL with Derby County, he is not tried and tested at the top level.
Chelsea is weakened – but not necessarily out. They may galvanise, but they won’t be as strong as previous seasons.
[* Editor’s note – this post was written before Chelsea got drubbed 4-0 by United…]
Potential top-four challengers, but not as strong as Spurs.
They could be well-coached by Lampard, but their weak attacking line may cost them. Pedro, Giroud and Batshuayi are good players at best, but not world-class and to the levels of City, Liverpool, Spurs, or ourselves.
Despite some top signings in Harry Maguire and Aaron Wan-Bissaka, they haven’t really strengthened in terms of midfield or attacking options. And this has, rightly so, brought up the ire of Manchester United fans and ignited #glazersout and #woodwardout movements.
So things are certainly peak at Old Trafford now.
Solksjaer is still relatively untried at the top-level, and perhaps the great run when he initially took overstated views on his ability. It certainly is fairly negative at their club, and with Pogba still pondering a move, it could get worse.
Martial, Rashford and Lingard are all good players, but haven’t been very prolific lately and not as good as attacking options at other clubs.
If they finish above us, then serious questions must be asked. We’re better than them in some key areas, and I don’t see how we cannot capitalise in their failings.
If they do finish above us, then surely Emery is toast. And it would be justified for him to go. United feasibly could be overtaken by Everton – and they have improved somewhat. And Yes, Iwobi joining them improves them.
And what about Arsenal?
- Fine attack
- Improved midfield
- Possible defensive improvements
- Strong GK, only bettered by Allison/Ederson in the league.
- Tactically strong manager
- Best transfer window of top six
- Record signing
- Strengthened all areas in some form
- The defensive structure is off
- Still have some dead wood (Mustafi)
Prime top four contenders.
The defensive structure could cost us, but if this is strongly corrected then challenging Liverpool/City could occur at an outside stretch.
I’m confident of doing something this season, though top four is our to lose, I feel. There are no guarantees, but then we need to learn from last season in terms of falling at key hurdles.
Our away form also was weak, and due to this, we fell away.
Wolves, Everton, and Leicester City also would be strong. Though I feel we have better players than them overall, despite them improving. Everton has been bolstered by our own Iwobi, of course.
So the season started with 3 points away at Newcastle United, and I feel bright.