Having failed to qualify for Europe last season, Arsenal reached their lowest ebb for a quarter of a century, and it’s been a tough road back for coach Mikel Arteta.
However, after a nightmare start to the season with three successive defeats, Arsenal have slowly found form and consistency and there are signs that Arteta has not only stabilised the club, but put it on an upwards trajectory once again.
The rebuilding job is by no means done — the future of striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is still to be resolved, for one — but Arsenal are a contender to qualify for the Champions League again this season, and that is a definite sign of progress.
If the Gunners are able to secure a top-four finish, they’ll put themselves back in the market for the kind of players required to take the team to the next level and complement the youthful promise of homegrown stars including Bukayo Saka, Emile Smith Rowe and Gabriel Martinelli. For example, qualifying for the Champions League could be enough to put Arsenal in pole position to sign Fiorentina forward Dusan Vlahovic, a player capable of scoring the goals to make them outsiders in the title race. But although an Arsenal title challenge seems unlikely at this stage, the right additions this summer could make a significant difference.
Next season feels too soon for Arsenal to compete for the title, but how they end this season will be a key indicator about future prospects. It doesn’t seem like they are close to winning the title, but a resurgent Arsenal could certainly have a say in the outcome of the race, something that hasn’t been the case for almost 20 years.
Chances of catching City (1=not likely, 10=guaranteed): 5 — Mikel Arteta appears to be over the hump of turning Arsenal around. They have a base to work from, but they are still too young to catch a team of City’s experience.