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Will Arsenal Challenge for the 2023/24 Premier League?

Updated: Sep 21, 2023

Will Arsenal Challenge for the 2023/24 Premier League?
Will Arsenal Challenge for the 2023/24 Premier League?

Arsenal’s title tilt last season continues to divide opinion, even among the Gunners’ own


While some thought that the youthful Gunners managed to punch above their weight by

challenging Manchester City for as long as they did, for example, others believe that they

capitulated dramatically under pressure after holding an eight-point lead at the summit in


Regardless, Arsenal have looked to redouble their efforts off the pitch this summer, with Kai

Havertz signed from Chelsea for £65 million and the club on the verge of confirming a £105 million deal for West Ham midfielder Declan Rice (who will become the most expensive British player of all time if the transfer is concluded).

But how will these signings strengthen Arsenal, and what else do the club need to challenge for top honours next season?

What Do Rice and Havertz Add to the Squad?

With current midfield pivot, Thomas Partey expected to leave Arsenal this summer, Rice is

likely to be deployed as a direct replacement for the Ghanian. The Englishman is also five

years Partey’s junior, while he has been touted as a potential club captain in North London.

However, the jury is out on whether Rice will be a significant upgrade on Partey, whose athleticism and pace were key to the Gunners' high-tempo game last season. While Rice boasted a slightly superior level of passing accuracy in 2022/23 (88.05% vs 87.98%), it was the Ghanaian who attempted and completed considerably more forward passes.

Partey also contested more duels, completed more tackles and attempted a higher number

of take-ons than Rice last season, so it will be interesting to see how the engine room in the

Gunners’ midfield performs next season.

Interestingly, Granit Xhaka is also expected to leave this summer, with the Swiss having

played in quite an advanced midfield position alongside Martin Ødegaard for much of last

season. This has caused some to speculate that Havertz could be deployed in a similarly

advanced role during the next campaign, with this arguably his preferred position.

However, the German lacks the dynamism and defensive work rate of Xhaka, who would

drop in to form a double pivot alongside Partey whenever Arsenal were out of possession.

If Havertz is to be deployed further forward, however, this would raise further questions

over who will replace Xhaka in the midfield and whether the German could really secure a

first-team place ahead of Gabriel Jesus, Gabriel Martinelli and Bukayo Saka.

Jesus' debut season at Arsenal was hampered by injury as he scored 13 goals in 41 outings
Jesus' debut season at Arsenal was hampered by injury as he scored 13 goals in 41 outings

Who will win the 2023 Premier League title?

  • Arsenal

  • Man City

  • Man United

  • Liverpool

Strengthening the Backline

Of course, Havertz was deployed as a centre forward for much of last season, but a return of

just nine goals in 47 matches in all competitions suggests that he’s unlikely to dislodge Jesus

in attack.

Jesus was also far from prolific with just 13 goals in 41 outings last season, and while

Martinelli, Saka and Ødegaard all contributed heavily in attack, there are serious doubts about precisely what Havertz will bring to the squad and whether he’ll be able to strengthen

the first 11 in any meaningful way (or position).

Another key issue facing Arsenal is their strength in depth in defensive positions, with the injury to William Saliba towards the end of last season coinciding with the Gunners' poor league form.

The proposed acquisition of Ajax defender Jurriën Timber could help in this regard, with the

young Dutchman both versatile and talented on the ball. To this end, he can operate at right

back and as a central defender, while he’s more than capable of distributing the ball accurately from the back and supporting Saka in wider areas.

In this respect, signing Timber should arguably be Arsenal’s next transfer priority, as he

brings more obvious value to the playing squad and would definitely provide an upgrade to

Rob Holding centrally.

Despite some doubt over the role of Havertz and whether Rice and deliver value for money,

there’s no doubting Arsenal’s ambition ahead of the new season. The question that remains

is whether their investment will be enough to overhaul a dominant City side.

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