Assessed: Arsenal’s key rivals this season

Arsenal have finally kicked their transfer business with the marquee signing of Nicolas Pepe from Lille.

It has been a slow transfer window for the Gunners but the signing of the Ivorian for a club-record fee of £72 million has captured the imagination of the fanbase. His performances for Lille were excellent and have given Unai Emery some excellent attacking options.

The problems at the back remain, however, even with the signing of £22 million defender William Saliba. The Frenchman will remain at St Etienne for the current campaign before joining the Gunners ready for the 2020-21 season.

Can Arsenal really challenge for the top four this season? The question should probably be phrased differently, given that Manchester City and Liverpool are almost certain to take two of those spots leaving Emery’s side to battle it out with Manchester United, Tottenham, and Chelsea for the remaining two spaces.

We take a look at the business of those three teams in particular and assess whether it is they or the Gunners that have an advantage in the race for a Champions League spot.

Manchester United

You cannot talk about United this season without mentioning Harry Maguire. The former Sheffield United centre back has worked his way up through the football league to now become Manchester United’s most expensive defender in the club’s history at £80 million and the most expensive defender to play in the Premier League.

Maguire becomes United’s third signing of the season, following in the footsteps of Daniel James and Aaron Wan-Bissaka. With these additions the Red Devils will be expected to make a real tilt for the top four, however, there is still the small factor of both Romelu Lukaku and Paul Pogba who appear to be on the verge of leaving the club.

Advantage: Arsenal edge this one as the unrest of having two key players both wanting to leave is likely to need resolving before United can truly be taken seriously.

Chelsea

Two words will be music to the ears of Tottenham, Manchester United and Arsenal fans here… transfer embargo.

The Stamford Bridge club are not allowed to sign players, though they have added Mateo Kovacic because he was already registered to the team last season. He will be an important player as Frank Lampard looks to build success around his young players. Mason Mount, Tammy Abraham and Callum Hudson-Odoi. The latter’s injury is, however, a serious blow.

Advantage: Again the Gunners take this one given Chelsea’s ban but underestimate Lampard at your peril as the former midfielder is likely to get a lot from his young players.

Tottenham

Spurs are currently 16/1 to win the title in Premier League betting markets and a lot of this will be down to their success in the Champions League last season.

With Pochettino determined to keep the club moving forward he knows that clearing the decks will allow some new additions to be brought in. Kieran Trippier’s exit to Atletico Madrid brought in some much-needed cash which was quickly spent on record signing Tanguay Ndombele.

The £53.8 million investment smashed the club transfer record as the French midfielder arrived from Lyon. Spurs also picked up Jack Clarke from Leeds but the youngster will return to Elland Road on loan this season.

Advantage: Neither side has a clear advantage in this one with both making one headline addition. The Gunners perhaps have more depth but it will be up to Emery to prove it.

With this view of the transfer market, it seems things are looking up for Arsenal in the upcoming season. Can they prove their mettle?

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