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Arsenal poised to take over from Man City with Pep Guardiola set to leave

With Pep Guardiola reportedly ready to leave Manchester City in 2025, are Arsenal poised to break City’s dominance and return to the top of English football. 

Mikel Arteta arsenal

With Pep Guardiola reportedly ready to leave Manchester City when his contract expires in 2025, we look at whether Arsenal are poised to break City’s dominance and return to the top of English football.

There is no doubt City have been the team to beat since Guardiola took over in 2016. The Spaniard has won six Premier League titles in his eight seasons in England, and won an historic fourth consecutive title last season. Something no even the great Sir Alex Ferguson could achieve with his dominant Manchester United sides.

However, with his contract having just one year left to run, widespread reports suggest that Guardiola is ready to call time on his illustrious career in Manchester. City are already the red-hot favourites to retain the title once again next season, and will no doubt be right in the mix for the Champions League, but it appears Guardiola’s time in England is coming to an end.

That will be music to the ears of rival fans, and thoughts turn to which club is best placed to take advantage of Guardiola’s imminent exit.

New era at Liverpool

Liverpool pushed City close from 2018 to 2022, with Jurgen Klopp’s men wrestling the title away from the Etihad Stadium on one occasion. However, with Klopp now departed, the Reds are set for a new chapter under Arne Slot and it’s not going to be easy for the Dutchman to follow-on from Klopp at Anfield.

It’s going to take time for Slot to reshape the squad and have Liverpool competing for major honours again. After a poor 2022/23 season that saw them miss out on the top four, Liverpool responded well to put in a sustained title challenge last season. However, they fell away during the business end and finished third. I expect Slot would be happy to repeat such a feat during his debut campaign in the Premier League.

Chelsea are also set for another new era under in-coming boss Enzo Maresca and we can’t see them being title challengers any time soon. Manchester United are giving Erik ten Hag another chance following a disastrous season that saw them finish eighth. A rebuild is needed at Old Trafford so they aren’t in a position to take over from Man City once Guardiola leaves. Tottenham, Aston Villa and Newcastle United have ambitious to break into the ‘top club’ group, but it will likely take them at least a couple of years to build a squad strong enough to compete at the very highest level.

Arsenal poised to take over

That perhaps leaves Arsenal as the club best placed to take advantage of any drop in form from Manchester City when Guardiola leaves. The Gunners have been slowly building a talented young squad in North London under Mikel Arteta. After a few years of pain during their rebuild, Arsenal are now showing real signs that they are back and ready to win major honours again. Fans with Arsenal tickets haven’t been this positive about the club in years, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them winning a few titles over the coming seasons.

For the second consecutive season, Arsenal were Manchester City’s closest rivals during the 2023/24 campaign. They lead the Premier League table for the vast majority of the 2022/23 season before falling away at the crucial final few weeks. The Gunners went again last season to push City all the way to the final day.

Ultimately, they fell just short again, finishing two points behind City on 89 points, but there were plenty of signs of improvement. The North Londoners ended up with the same goal difference as City on +62. They boasted the best defence in the league with just 29 goals conceded in their 38 games. Arsenal also won a club record 28 games, with only fine margins separating them from being champions for the first time since 2004.

Arteta has a vibrant young squad that are hungry and packed with quality. They are only going to get better as they get older and that should stand them in good stead ahead of Guardiola’s exit at City. No club is in a better position to take over from the Cityzens and become the dominant force in English football.

Arteta still wants to strengthen

That’s not to say Arsenal are the finished article just yet. They still need to further strengthen their squad and if they get their recruitment right over the next few windows, they could be ready to dominant in Europe and England.

One glaring omission in the Arsenal squad is a top class striker. Gabriel Jesus is a quality player, but he’s not a 20+ goal a season hitman. The Brazilian had his injury problems last season, but still only managed to score a paltry 4 goals in 27 Premier League appearances. Kai Havertz did an excellent job after replacing Jesus as Arsenal’s main striker during the second half of last season. He is more of a target man and offers something different to Jesus, but he’s still not an out-and-out goal-scorer. An upgrade is desperately needed, and it’s no surprise that Arsenal are expected to sign a new striker this summer.

Benjamin Sesko was reportedly Arsenal’s main target but he’s decided to remain at RB Leipzig for at least another season. Napoli striker Victor Osimhen is on the market but his £100+ asking price will most likely put Arsenal off as they can not afford to spend that kind of money on just one player this summer.

Viktor Gyokeres is being heavily linked after scoring 43 goals for Sporting Lisbon last season. He also chipped in with 15 assists, so he’d clearly be a real threat in the final third if he was to join Arsenal. However, Sporting are demanding his £85m release clause is paid in full, so Gyokeres would also be a hugely expensive signing for the Gunners.

Another player being touted as a target is Joshua Zirkzee. The Dutchman has a very affordable £34m release clause in his contract so he would fit perfectly within Arsenal’s budget. At just 23, he’s also the perfect age profile for Arteta as he’s old enough to have experience at the top level, but young enough that he still has plenty of room to improve.

Zirkzee scored 12 goals in 37 games for Bologna last season, with a further 7 assists. Those are solid numbers for a young striker in just his second season in Italy. He also stands at over 6 foot tall, has a great touch and well rounded link-up play, so he appears to have all the attributes Arteta will be looking for.

With Arsenal in dire need of another striker, and many of their top targets seemingly being priced out of a move, Zirkzee is emerging as the most realistic option. And who knows, he could be the man to help take Arsenal to new heights as they prepare to take over from Man City as England’s to club once Guardiola leaves next summer.

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