I really wanted to pick Arsenal to win the league. The Gunners have the best chance of any team not named Manchester City, but it’s at best a one-in-three chance and probably lower than that. Manchester City are a virtual lock for 85+ points, and if you look back over the years, even getting to 80 is extremely difficult. That is what Arsenal and everybody else are up against. The Premier League title is Manchester City’s to lose, and it will remain that way for the foreseeable future.
I went back and forth on who the fourth Champions League team would be between Manchester United and Chelsea but chickened out in the end. I think Mauricio Pochettino is a really good coach and will greatly improve the Blues this season. They’ve got plenty of talent and on the rare occasions when everything clicked, they played excellent football.
I also don’t rate Erik ten Hag nor his Manchester United side. Maybe I underrate teams that score most of their goals on the break and rely on a few top players for the majority of their output (like Spurs have for years). But I just don’t think that is a consistent, sustainable enough recipe for success over a 38-game season. Looking at the United roster, I just don’t see enough depth of quality for them to challenge at the top.
Liverpool have a massive hole in their lineup that unless filled will keep them from being true title contenders. They don’t have a holding midfielder. And as we’ve discovered with Arsenal, you need multiple players capable of playing that position at a high level to contend. Even if Liverpool sign Romeo Lavia or gazump Chelsea for Moises Caicedo, that likely won’t be enough. Don’t get me wrong. The Reds are a really good team and will take points off Manchester City and Arsenal this season.
A word on Gabriel Martinelli: I think we overlook how good he is because of Bukayo Saka and the rest of Arsenal’s attacking talent. Martinelli is a bonafide star and is going to have a massive year.
Champions: Manchester City, reluctantly
Top Four: Manchester City, Arsenal, Manchester United, Liverpool
Relegated: Luton Town, Wolves, Sheffield United
Arsenal POTY: William Saliba
Arsenal are going to push Manchester City close again, but a greater focus on Europe will take a toll on the squad. However, success in other knockout competitions will ensure that the season will finish as Arsenal’s best in at least a decade, if not longer.
I wanted to pick Arsenal to win the league, but we’re up against an institution that just won the treble, spends nearly one million pounds a week to employ Erling Håland, and despite losing Ilkay Gundogan and Riyad Mahrez, still has the services of Kevin de Bruyne, the previous record English transfer Jack Grealish, and just spent €90m on a centre back. They’re a behemoth; you have to be nearly perfect to beat them, and I have a hunch, as Mikel Arteta looks to build a mostly new midfield, that Arsenal will not be perfect.
Top Four: Arsenal, Manchester City, Liverpool, Manchester United
Relegated: Luton Town, Wolves, Nottingham Forest
Arsenal POTY: William Saliba
The realist in me knows that the Gunners are close but not quite yet there, but the rabid homer in me is very high on this Arsenal side. For the first time in what feels like forever, there is true depth across the pitch. The attack can interchange at will and create tremendous havoc against teams from every position. The midfield is now fortified with one of Europe’s best midfielders in Declan Rice. Despite the heralded signing of Rice, the addition of Jurrien Timber to the defense already looks like one of the best moves of the summer and further cements the status of Edu and Arteta as an elite tandem when it comes to player recruitment.
The gap between City and the rest is still palpable. The likes of United and Liverpool are good, but incomplete. Chelsea will probably bounce back to respectability with Pochettino and no European football to play. Who knows what will happen with Spurs under a new manager and potentially without Harry Kane. But City will be City. They will be a well-oiled machine that plays a joyless brand of robotically clinical football. Losing veterans like Gundogan and Mahrez for nearly any other team would prove detrimental, but as long as City have Pep, they will hum along like a finely-tuned sports car.
But all dominant eras inevitably end. No club in Premier League history has ever won the title four years in a row. City are deep and talented, and despite winning the Treble last season, they weren’t perfect. Close to it, but not impervious to the occasional hiccup.
I think this is the season it all comes together for Arteta. His biggest fault last season was being too loyal to players even despite their dips in form. Some of that came from a place of good faith, others from a lack of alternatives. But I genuinely believe Arteta will learn to be more pragmatic in his selections and finally crack the code for his side to be quality from start to finish. In the pre-season, he made a point of mentioning that he wants this side to be unpredictable, and I think he finally has the personnel to do it.
Champions: Arsenal, by less than 3 points
Top Four: Arsenal, Manchester City, Manchester United, Newcastle
Relegated: Wolves, Sheffield United, Luton Town
Arsenal POTY: Declan Rice (look I think it’ll be Saliba, but two others already said that above me)
You don’t adopt a dog named, Win, sign recruits that are specifically canine lovers, and f—-up a home shirt honoring your greatest squad ever if you’re not ready to mount your best title challenge in 20 years. Arsenal have not only grown in each season with Mikel Arteta, but in the past two, they have sputtered to the finish line. This is the season we put that behind us in the Arteta era. The question for any title winning team will come down to health and luck, last year it seemed we had flipped the luck part especially late in games, but injuries to William Saliba, Thomas Partey, and Alex Zinchenko derailed our depth as the final leg of the season hit. Some may say we have a big squad at the moment, but I believe Edu and Arteta have done this by design, specifically with our back four depth.
Offensively, Arsenal showed a massive leap last year in the goal scoring and the shared responsibility across 16 players. That excludes Emile Smith Rowe who was our leading goal scorer in the previous season and a four month absence for Gabriel Jesus. Havertz has averaged 6 goals a season in a dysfunctional Chelsea side for the last 3 seasons. I don’t think anyone here would be surprised if he surpassed those numbers in a side that has a clear identity and attacking patterns leading to goal scoring opportunities. The question this season with the additional amount of games in Champions League and the necessity for rotation in league play, can Arsenal get 4-8 goals each from the rotation crew of Trossard, Nelson, Nketiah, Vieira, Smith Rowe, and Jorginho?
Alright, let’s do it for Win!
So that you have an easy copy + paste for your predictions:
Feel free to include any bonus predictions if the spirit moves you. I’ll throw one in: Newcastle finish outside of the Europa League spots.