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4-Peat: What Will It Take For Arsenal, Liverpool Or Any Other Potential Title Challenger To Usurp Man City?

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Arsenal’s ‘success story’ this season is indeed an enigma.

arteta of arsenal and guardiola of manchester city

They scored the most goals, conceded the least goals, and had the most clean sheets. Still, the Gunners lost the title to Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City. Aside from losing the title to their rival City, what really pains Arsenal fans is the fact that despite the insane effort Mikel Arteta and his side put in this season, the club didn’t win a trophy and Manchester United of all teams won a trophy (The FA Cup). 

Manchester United just came off their worst run of form in the current Premier League era and still won a trophy. This is something Arsenal failed to do in the four competitions they played in.

Fate truly loves irony.

Whether or not Manchester United had a better campaign than Arsenal since they won a trophy but the latter didn’t is up for debate. However, there is no doubt that this scenario is indeed paradoxical. 

This case is also strikingly similar to last season’s. Arsenal had an incredible run of form – the best they have had in years – and by December 2022, many were confident that fate had finally smiled on the Gunners and they were going to end up as champions. However, despite sitting at the top of the Premier League table for an incredible 248 days, they didn’t win the title. Manchester City did.

Double whammy.

Arsenal also didn’t win any trophy in the 2022/23 season despite their hot streak. Having relentless form game in, game out without hardly anything to show for the effort put in. Only one club can relate to the Gunners in this regard and that is Liverpool.

klopp of liverpool and guardiola of manchester city

Manchester City’s Pep Guardiola regards Jurgen Klopp of Liverpool as the biggest rival he has had in his career. The reason the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich manager said this is evident for all to see. 

The 2018/19 season shocked the world because the Reds accumulated an astonishing 97 points and still lost the title to Manchester City. Liverpool, however, learned from their mistakes and ran away with the title in the 2019/20 season by accumulating 99 points. Guardiola and Klopp went toe-to-toe again in the 2021/22 season but the Spaniard (93 points) edged out his German rival (92 points).

What separates Liverpool from Arsenal is the fact that when competing for the title against Manchester City, they won trophies along the way (and actually won the title in the 2019/20 season) but Arsenal didn’t win anything.

We have taken a look at how both Arsenal and Liverpool have fallen short of winning the EPL title numerous times despite putting in an insane amount of effort. Now, let’s have a deep analysis of what makes Manchester City so dominating that they have won the Premier League title 4 seasons in a row now and 6 times in the past 7 seasons.

erling haaland champion with manchester city

Pep Guardiola’s tactical philosophy is a key factor. He implements a possession-based style with an emphasis on short, intricate passing and positional play. This creates a well-oiled machine that’s incredibly difficult to break down defensively. Teams like Arsenal and Liverpool, while strong offensively, struggle to penetrate City’s organized defense and win the ball back consistently.

Plus, Manchester City boasts exceptional depth in their squad. Guardiola has a wealth of talent at his disposal, allowing him to rotate players strategically without sacrificing quality. This keeps the team fresh throughout the season and ensures they can respond to injuries or fatigue. Additionally, Manchester City’s financial backing allows them to attract world-class players, further strengthening their position.  Combined with Guardiola’s tactical mastery, this depth creates a formidable force that can adapt and overcome challenges throughout the long Premier League campaign.

Also, to maintain his side’s continuous unrivaled success over the seasons, Guardiola has had to make many ruthless decisions when it comes to signing and offloading players. Many believe Manchester City’s recruitment policy under the Spaniard is the primary catalyst of the club’s legendary success over the years.

guardiola of manchester city

There was a three-way horse race between Arsenal, Liverpool, and Manchester City for the title this season. Many expect this to still remain the status quo next season because it’s hard to imagine any of the other remaining 17 clubs reaching their form. 

All things considered, what will it take for Arsenal, Liverpool, or other potential challengers (should any emerge) to snatch the title from the very tight grasps of Manchester City?

Firstly, whoever wants to usurp with Pep Guardiola’s side needs an almost flawless consistency throughout the season. Manchester City’s relentless winning mentality and ability to grind out results even in close games is very crucial to their success. 

Challengers must replicate this by minimizing dropped points, especially against weaker opposition. Additionally, they’ll need to find a way to overcome City tactically. This could involve developing innovative strategies that exploit weaknesses in City’s possession-based approach or building a squad specifically designed to counter their style.

Secondly, building a squad with world-class talent across all positions is essential. City’s strength in depth allows them to rotate players and maintain a high level throughout the season. Challengers need to close the gap in squad quality, potentially through shrewd transfers or by nurturing young talent to become stars. 

Addressing weaknesses in specific areas, like central defense or a prolific striker, could prove decisive. Finally, replicating City’s financial muscle, although difficult, would allow challengers to compete more directly in the transfer market for top players. By combining these elements, challengers can create a genuine threat to City’s reign and potentially dethrone them from the Premier League summit.

Will There Actually Be Any Challengers Next Season?

Realistically, only Arsenal and Liverpool have what it takes to compete for the title with Manchester City next season. However, will any of them offer a worthwhile challenge? 

Jurgen Klopp has left Anfield after nine years in charge and has been replaced by Arne Slot. Klopp has spoken very well of the former Feyenoord manager, however, it is hard to imagine that a coach in his first season in charge can rally Liverpool to mount a strong challenge against Pep Guardiola’s side. In 2 or 3 seasons in charge, maybe, but it is very hard envisioning him achieving this in his first season.

As for Arsenal, taking into consideration the young age of the squad and the fact that they have lost the title to Manchester City 2 years in a row now, will they be able to develop the mental fortitude to compete with them again for the third season in a row? 

arsenal players

It is hard to imagine any other club in the Big 6 actually mounting a title challenge next season. Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea’s projects are still a work in progress. As for Manchester City, their management is divided on whether to back Erik Ten Hag or not.

All things considered, what could actually stop Manchester City from winning the Premier League title for the fifth year in a row might be an external factor rather than one of the other clubs.

Manchester City faces a whopping 115 charges of breaching Financial Fair Play (FFP) regulations. These charges emerged in 2020 and are still under investigation by the Premier League. 

The specific details of the allegations haven’t been officially revealed, but based on leaks and media reports, they center around inflated sponsorship deals, disguised player payments, and mismanagement practices.

guardiola of manchester city

Everton and Nottingham Forest are in the same shoes as Manchester City but their respective charges are nowhere as severe as that of the reigning Premier League champions. As punishment, the clubs were given a six-point and four-point deduction respectively. Many people consider these sanctions very controversial because Manchester City’s Financial Fair Play (FFP) charges are much worse than both these clubs and they have not been punished yet.

A precedent has already been set with the punishments meted out to Everton and Nottingham Forest. However, many expect nothing serious to happen to Pep Guardiola’s side while some expect the club would receive a severe punishment such as hefty point deductions, transfer bans, or even expulsion from the Premier League.

Only time will tell what will become of Manchester City.

This article was updated 3 weeks ago

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