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Early predictions for Premier League and UCL next season: can we compete on both fronts?

Early predictions for Arsenal’s 2023/24 campaign.

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Image Credit: Getty Images

It was around half past 7 on the 20th of May this year, and the flame of hope that had kept us going for so long had finally been extinguished. A 1-0 defeat to Nottingham Forest had confirmed that for yet another season, Manchester City would be the Premier League champions. After a record-breaking stretch at the top, Arsenal had finally come undone with just the final few hurdles to go. As fans of the club, we all remember how devastating those last two months of the season were. The all-too-familiar cry of ‘bottlers’ from social media and pundits had never been louder, as the collapse that so many had prayed for finally materialised.

Equally loud are those who are convinced that Arsenal will fail to hit the same heights next season. Last year, according to FiveThirtyEight, we had the most consistent line-up in the league. With high-intensity Champions League fixtures now on our schedule, Mikel Arteta will be unable to field such a consistent starting XI, and so many believe that a lack of squad depth will throw us back into a top 4 dogfight. But personally, I beg to differ.

Below, we attempt to predict Arsenal’s results in the Premier League and the Champions League next season. For now, we won’t predict the domestic cup competitions, as draws for these are far too random and unpredictable, unlike the UCL which has some structure in its groupings. A better run in the FA Cup, provided we don’t face City again, would certainly be much welcomed, although this should certainly be a tertiary priority for Arteta.

Premier League:

For a period of time last season, we arguably had the best first XI in the league, regarding. That team, pictured below, won all 6 games in which it started, all of which were before the World Cup. As we know, several injuries to key players, most notably William Saliba in February, caused blips in form ultimately culminating with the title heading back to Manchester. This was because we did not have sufficient back-ups to maintain the style championed by Arteta, with Rob Holding’s lack of ball-playing ability the most defining example. With Declan Rice, Jurrien Timber, Kai Havertz and potentially others added to the roster, with most deadwood likely to go the other way, squad depth is not an excuse any longer. Barring freak injuries to our key players alla Liverpool 2020/21, it should be an expectation that we at least maintain the levels shown last season, and really, that we kick on even further when crunch time arrives. But can we really go one further, and make up for the late collapse by winning the league?

Our best XI last season (Image Credit: TheMastermindSite)


On paper, yes. It very nearly happened last season with limited back-up options, and we have improved in each season under Arteta (barring the freakish anomaly of lockdown football; the sooner we forget, the better). With a world-class defensive midfielder in Rice added to the starting lineup, along with Timber and Havertz, the team is edging closer to becoming complete. With Arteta’s tactical genius, everything is looking poised for an even better season. However, events at the Emirates are only one side of the coin.

For a start, the competition is looking fierce. Overall, Pep Guardiola’s City are the best team in the world by some margin, and are nailed-on favourites to become the first team ever to win four consecutive Premier Leagues come May next year. Liverpool, too, seem to have sorted out their long-running midfield woes with the shrewd acquisitions of Alexis Mac Allister and Dominic Szoboszlai, and will be up there if Jurgen Klöpp can successfully incorporate Trent Alexander-Arnold into a suitable position. For me, other teams are a little way off.

Assuming the Andre Onana deal does go through, Manchester United still need to strengthen in a couple of areas. Their lack of a top-quality forward last season was arguably what held them back from reaching the levels of City and Arsenal. The Harry Kane deal looks increasingly unlikely with Daniel Levy unwilling to sell to a Premier League team, and Rasmus Højlund, rumoured to be heading to Old Trafford next year, is still somewhat unproven and thus is not an appropriate option for a title challenge just yet. Similarly, Antony might need another season to fully adapt to the physical demands of the league, and Jadon Sancho also hasn’t demonstrated enough quality during his time at the club.

Newcastle don’t quite have the depth of the other big challengers, so their re-introduction into top European football will likely see them struggle a bit at points in the league. Chelsea have some way to go in terms of re-building, and Tottenham still have a lot of deadwood to ship out, particularly in defence. So really, a three-horse race is the most likely outcome for next season; Arsenal certainly won’t run away with it like we did for much of last season.

Combining that with the fact that we’re back in the Champions League, and it does seem a more daunting task. Pundits are quick to overstate the effect of this, however. Whilst clearly not at the same level of the UCL, the squad did compete in the Europa League throughout our most dominant spells domestically, and thus the fixture overload won’t be entirely alien to the team, unlike with Newcastle. The aforementioned greater depth should help with this further, but Arteta must make sure to rest players more regularly in the Premier League in order to make some form of statement in Europe. Too long have Arsenal struggled on the continental stage; now we’re finally back at the top, the Champions League must not be sidelined in the same vein as the Europa last season.

All in all, things are looking up, but City still have the edge in terms of depth and so I would predict them to win the league next season, as many others will. However, for me, Arsenal are just better than Liverpool right now; we have younger, fitter players, and a more defined system. Depending on where he decides to play Alexander-Arnold, Klöpp needs either a new defensive midfielder or a better right-back than Joe Gomez, who isn’t up to scratch in that position. Jordan Henderson is very old now at 33, and both Szoboszlai and Mac Allister are attacking players by trade. All in all, another second place would certainly be a great return, but if we don’t win the league, a good European campaign is essential to re-establish our place as a top global club.

Final prediction: 2nd

Champions League

This one is much harder to predict. This competition is a completely different kettle of fish to the Europa League, and with the departure of Granit Xhaka, no core squad members were around for our last appearance in the UCL in 2016/17. That season, we were dumped out unceremoniously 5-1 by Bayern Munich for the 3rd time in a game running, brutally highlighting our downfall from the previous decade. However, this could not contrast more heavily with the situation coming into the new campaign. Arteta’s boys are a team on the ascendency, reaching Phase Four of the five-step plan with our latest signings.

Accordingly, I think we will make it out of the group whatever the draw. We are guaranteed to be in Pot 2, and have more quality than all teams below us on this metric. Beyond this, however, there is a lot of doubt surrounding our prospects in the knockouts.

These criticisms are certainly not unfounded. While we do have a stronger roster, the top European teams are a completely different prospect to what we are used to facing in the Premier League. Each league has a different style. The Italians are agonisingly pragmatic and tricky to score against. France and Germany have fewer teams to offer in terms of top quality, but PSG and Bayern both boast extraordinary amounts of talent and proven quality, shown by their respective dominance over their domestic leagues. The Spanish teams are more stylistically similar, but Barcelona and the two Madrid clubs all have significant European pedigree and thus cannot be underestimated.

Of course, we will only face a sample of sides from these countries next year. Combining all the factors, our early shout is a quarter-final exit, although the unpredictability of the draw means that anything could happen in the knockouts. As mentioned before, a group stage exit is unlikely and would be entirely unacceptable regardless of our domestic performance.

Final prediction: QF Exit

NEXT ARTICLE: A big window so far, but still work to do for Arteta: what can he do to complete the project?

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1 Comment

  1. login pragmatic play

    July 15, 2023 at 3:19 am

    Thanks for sharing such a fastidious thought, article is nice, thats why
    i have read it entirely

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