The 2022-23 Premier League season is almost a third of the way through, and already the table makes familiar reading. Reigning champions Manchester City are the team to catch at the table’s summit, with the other 19 teams left wondering what they could possibly do to close the gap on Pep Guardiola‘s superstar squad. The odds compilers at sportsbettingsites.com believe Mikel Arteta‘s Arsenal is the team most likely to challenge City for honors this season, but can Arteta guide the Gunners to glory with Arsenal already trailing the leaders by three points?
Manchester City is coming off the back of a treble-winning season, with the Citizens lifting the Premier League trophy alongside the FA Cup and the UEFA Champions League. City is now set on becoming the first Premier League team to win the league in four consecutive seasons. When those boys in blue set their minds to something, they usually achieve it.
Both City and would-be challengers Arsenal were active in the transfer market over the summer, with both teams seeing several established players leave their respective clubs and some new faces join their team. This article will examine each squad’s positions before determining whether Arsenal can halt City’s charge.
Manchester City has one of the best goalkeepers in the world in the Brazilian Ederson. Since joining City, Ederson has made the number one position his own, thanks to his incredible goalkeeping ability; his footwork and skills would not look out of place on an outfield player.
On the other hand, Arsenal paid £24 million for Aaron Ramsdale in August 2021, and the Englishman has rarely put a foot wrong since. However, despite some solid performances, Arsenal have loaned David Raya from Brentford with an obligation to buy at the end of the season for £27 million. Some of Raya’s clangers have been meme-worthy, yet Arteta trusts the Spaniard between the sticks.
City is the clear winner in this position, although an injury to Ederson would flip that statement around.
Guardiola splashed the cash to strengthen his central defense by signing Croatia international Josko Gvardiol. The Croatian is joined in the heart of the City defense by the likes of Nathan Ake, John Stones, and Ruben Dias. City also has the world’s best right-back, Kyle Walker, on its books.
Arsenal usually has a settled back line, with William Saliba and Gabriel forming a formidable partnership at center back. However, they often play with Ben White, a naturally central player, at full-back and Takehiro Tomiyasu at left-back despite the Japanese international playing right-back for his national side.
Last season, Arsenal’s season fell apart when Saliba was injured for the last 12 games. City has the better strength in depth and the more adaptable players, so they win this clash, too.
Games of football are often won and lost in midfield, making this position crucial to any team’s success. City has a talented crop of midfielders at its disposal. Rodri is arguably the world’s best defensive midfielder right now, and he has England international Kalvin Phillips as a capable stand-in.
In a more attacking role, City relies on Matheus Nunes, Bernardo Silva, and Kevin De Bruyne to create chances for the team. However, De Bruyne has missed 19 games across all competitions so far this season because of a partial muscle tear. The Belgian talisman has no return date in sight.
Arsenal broke its transfer record by paying West Ham United £105 million for Declan Rice. The Gunners pair Rice with either Thomas Partey or Italy’s Jorginho in a defensive role, leaving club captain Martin Odergaard, Kai Havertz, Fabio Viera, and Emile Smith Rowe to venture further forward.
With De Bruyne out of the City team, Arsenal may just edge the midfield battle here.
Wingers and Forwards
Goals win games, and wingers often create those goals by providing teasing crosses into the box for the forwards and strikers.
Pep Guardiola has an embarrassment of riches in wide positions, being able to call upon England internationals Phil Foden and Jack Grealish for a start. Guardiola also has unearthed a gem in Jeremy Doku, who scored once and assisted four others in the recent 6-1 win over AFC Bournemouth.
Of course, City also has Erling Haaland up front, and the Norwegian is an incredible player. In 70 games in the sky blue of City, Haaland has scored 67 goals and has 12 assists. Even if Haaland is not firing on all cylinders, Argentina’s Julian Alvarez is a worthy replacement.
Arsenal has plenty of attacking threats of its own, especially from wide positions. Brazil’s Gabriel Martinelli and Bukayo Sako are phenomenal players, while Belgian Leandro Trossard would get into most starting 11s in the Premier League.
The out-and-out striker position is where Arsenal is lacking. First choice number nine, Gabriel Jesus, is injury-prone. He missed 17 games last season and has already sat out nine games in 2023-24; he is currently on the sidelines with a hamstring injury. Eddie Nketiah is who Arsenal turns to when Jesus is out, and although he is an up-and-coming talent, he is not the caliber of player to lead the line for a team with Premier League title aspirations.
There is no denying that Arsenal and Manchester City have deep squads of players capable of beating any team they face and do so for an arduous 38-game season. However, City has the better goalkeeper, defense, and attacking threat, especially as they have Erling Haaland up front, who scores goals in his sleep.
City’s players and head coach have a winning mentality engrained into them, having won seven Premier League trophies in 12 seasons and 19 trophies in all. You cannot teach people to be winners; they must earn the right to call themselves so. Arsenal’s squad is far from what you would call losers, but they do not have experience dealing with the immense stress of being England’s champions.
Can Arsenal stop City from winning the Premier League this season? Yes, they can, but they will not. Whoever finishes above Manchester City will become champions of England, but nobody will manage to achieve that feat by the looks of things.