Why Arsenal can challenge for the title in 2023/24

Despite sitting atop the Premier League table for a record-breaking 248 days, the Gunners fell short in their bid to claim a first title in 19 years.

Mikel Arteta’s side were left ruing missed opportunities as a poor run of results ensured City had control heading into a crucial game at the Etihad in which Pep Guardiola’s side ran out comfortable winners. The Gunners managed to keep their hopes alive until the penultimate fixture, but a narrow defeat to Nottingham Forest at the City Ground brought Arsenal’s title charge to an end.

As disappointing as it was to watch the club’s push for an elusive Premier League crown unravel at the seams, this squad should look back on this season with immense pride. Arsenal started the season as contenders for a fourth place finish but ended it with a massive 84 points, their highest points tally since the Invincibles in 2003/04. They have exceeded everyone’s expectations and now have the invaluable experience of a title race to help them going forward.

Arteta is well aware there’s work to be done this summer if his side is to maintain that level in 2023/24 but if he gets the tough calls right in the transfer market, then the Gunners will be in great shape ahead of the new season. The 41-year-old boss will be as determined as he’s ever been to go one better to stop his former mentor from sealing a fourth consecutive league trophy and here’s why he can do just that. 

Back in March ex-pro David James had warned Arsenal that it would be a ‘catastrophic failure’ if they failed to win the league, and while it would have been hard for the players to take when City eventually won the title, the club probably won’t view it the same way upon reflection.

The manner in which the title was lost is undoubtedly regrettable but the fact there was an anticlimactic finish in itself shows just how much this squad has progressed in such a short amount of time. In May 2022 Newcastle ended the club’s hopes of securing UEFA Champions League football after a calamitous display at St. James’ Park, fast-forward a year and largely the same group of players took the title race with Guardiola’s unstoppable force right to the wire; by no means should that be considered a failure.

The fact that Arsenal are back in the Champions League for the first time in six years is barely mentioned now, as was the rate of their progress under Arteta. The arrivals of Gabriel Jesus, Oleksandr Zinchenko, and Leandro Trossard were pivotal in helping the likes of Bukayo Saka, Martin Odegaard and Gabriel Martinelli flourish this year, all three enjoying their best seasons to date.

Were it not for some poorly timed injuries at key moments this year there was a very good chance City would be celebrating an FA Cup and UEFA Champions League double instead of their first treble. Arteta has moulded this young squad into title contenders, an entirely different entity to the one we’ve been used to for so many years, and now the club is only a few smart signings away from going toe to toe with City again. 

As for who those signings are, top of the list for Arteta this summer will be England international Declan Rice. Having led West Ham to European glory in the Europa Conference, securing the club’s first major honour in 43 years in the process, the highly-sought after Rice has made his intentions clear; he wants to move on. The 24-year-old is looking for another club, ideally still in London, as he bids to play Champions League football next season. To that end, Arsenal have emerged as favourites to attain his services as the only London club playing in Europe’s elite club competition in 2023/24.

Arteta made him Arsenal’s top priority months ago as he is set to begin the rebuild of the midfield and he fits the profile of exactly what the Gunners need. Granit Xhaka had his best season in an Arsenal shirt in 2022/23 but he is set to end his seven year spell at the club, while Thomas Partey has shown glimpses of what he’s capable of last campaign, but hit a poor patch of form in the run-in. An upgrade is required and Rice is certainly that.

From a defensive perspective he is one of the league’s best, with an incredible workrate off the ball, he managed to accrue the most interceptions last season and racked up 79 tackles too, while from an attacking perspective he offers more creativity going forward than Xhaka ever has. He possesses an incredible ability to recycle the ball, clocking over 2,000 passes in the league in 2022/23, and in a system that allows him a bit more freedom than David Moyes’ dreary defensive-minded style he would flourish. His mere presence would also free up the fullbacks to push forward more, safe in the knowledge that Rice would be able to cover in a counter-attack scenario. He would make a significant improvement to Arteta’s midfield whatever role he plays. 

Rice is not the only important addition needed this summer though. This season has highlighted more than ever the importance of squad depth. When Guardiola had injury problems or poor performances to contend with, he had a list of two or three world class options off the bench at his disposal. For Arsenal, the injuries to Takehrio Tomiyasu and William Saliba completely derailed their momentum, leaving the defence vulnerable. That was the difference this season.

Rob Holding was unfairly the scapegoat for the downturn in form, but there’s no denying that this is an area that needs to be fixed before the new season. Saliba and Gabriel provide Arsenal with a good defensive pairing who have proved they can operate well together. The problem lies, however, if one of them is unavailable.

Jakub Kiwior has been brought in as one for the future but he will need time to develop. There’s also the situation at right back with Ben White. He’s done a fantastic job filling in for the Japanese international but the Gunners would greatly benefit from playing him in his natural position. Having pushed Manchester City all the way this year, even with a litany of injuries and weaker squad depth, it’s not so farfetched to think that ,with aid from some reinforcements this summer, Arsenal can breach the gap between themselves and Guardiola’s indomitable force. 


Tags title race


  1. Nice article! Few disagreements on specifics:
    *”Thomas Partey has shown glimpses of what he’s capable of last campaign” – this is a massive understatement! He was immense for almost the entire campaign but his form ultimately dropped just when we needed him most. What I want to understand is why – was he asked to play through an injury, or was something going on we don’t know about (or maybe something we do), or did the pressure get to him, or is he simply not reliable when it comes to it? The answer to that question is key to understanding whether we should be replacing him next season, because when he’s not terribly out of sorts, there aren’t many better in world football.
    *on kiwior – I thought he proved he’s ready in his few performances, and his playing style is perfect for our team, whether at CB or LB. He let himself down in one of the games, but that wasn’t a question of quality – it is a small correction he needs to make attitude wise but i have no doubts he’s a real asset going into this season.
    * on White – he was one of our best players from RB, and he wasn’t when he was a CB. I wouldn’t even consider moving him back to his previous position, unless we were thinking of changing to a back 3, where his ability to move into midfield could still be utilised. Otherwise, I strongly suspect Tomi would be a better CB than white, and kiwior certainly is in my estimation, but Ben White has proven himself a fantastic RB.

  2. Last season’s failure to win the title must be next season’s motivation. That said with the inclusion of Rice, Havertz and Timber, we have solidified our squad and can now compete in all major competitions with a starting XI and players ready to come on both equally talented. We should try to win the EPL title, the FA Cup and go deep in the CL, we have the squad to challenge on all fronts. Lets start the campaign by beating City in the Community Shield.

  3. We have overachieved last campaign but this season we will be better prepared.

    There is no doubt the gaffer would have learned a great deal and will be bit sharper this time around.
    The campaign before they were lots of square pegs in round holes, he has corrected that but he has been guilty of poor rotation in the recently concluded campaign.

    The gaffer must quicker out the box to makes changes, switch tactics, he must use more interchanges with players, switch Sala with Martinelli and Jesus, learned to have the opposition all over the park, we must become less predictable.

    Arsenal has the hungriest squad on paper and a gaffer with a huge appetite who has smell the coffee.

    They will be gunning to win the first six games and then kick on from there.

  4. If we acquire Timber,our defence would almost certainly be complete.Him,Tommi,and White are capable of playing CB and RB which was part of the problem last season.
    My only challenge then is L.B. I don’t think Zinchenko did well in that position.With M.A indicating lack of faith in K.T,I hope we get another proper L.B
    Or alternatively we should give Kiwior a go at L.b.He has done well on international duty there and he has shown glimpses of quality to convince me.

  5. I hope the new players take no time in gelling in with our bunch, that is the one worry I have as we need to start like a house on fire. 2 of them thus far are PL-ready which should help speedily. I expect one or two more signings after we’ve shipped out a few and we’ve gotten these three signed. We’ll see how they fare in the preseason with Arteta’s passing tactics and high pressing it might take a little time before it looks seamless. I reckon our pressing ability will be enhanced this season we’ll be often high up the pitch, I’m looking forward to seeing that

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