Avatar photo Date: 22nd August 2023 at 3:49pm
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Arsenal F.C. has a historical top-league pedigree. The club has been productive in the transfer market this pre-season and has a youthful feel about it. Can these factors help the second-favoured Gunners usurp Man City? City are the overwhelming favourites among the sportsbooks featured on bettingsites.co.uk, with many listing them odds-on at 4/6. Arsenal are a way behind at 5/1, but given Leicester City’s victory after starting at 5000/1 in 2015-16, anything is possible. 

Founded in 1886, Arsenal was the first South England club to join the Football League, way back in 1893.  You’d think Arsenal is one of the old men among the current crop of Premier League outfits then, wouldn’t you? You’d be wrong, though – Arsenal is only the 11th-oldest club in the current EPL. The squad is a whole 21 years younger than the current EPL granddaddy, Nottingham Forest.

This is quite an apt fact, actually. Arsenal has the third-youngest squad in the EPL, averaging 24.8 years old. Only Chelsea, after its recent youth focus, and newcomers Burnley, have more players still telling mum what time they’ll be home for tea. As things stand, and we all know this can change, Mikel Arteta is also the third-youngest current Premier League manager. 

Does this mean Arsenal will win the league, though? With a squad 17 months younger than Man City’s on average this season, Arsenal should have the edge that youthful physicality brings to the park. Last season showed that this isn’t the telling factor over a long season, however. If it was, Burnley would win the league this year. 

Last season Arsenal’s squad was 25 months younger per man than The Citizens, but the latter finished way stronger. Why? Because experience counts for a lot, both on the playing field and in the dugout. Remember, Pep Guardiola mentored Mikel Arteta for much of his non-playing career. His extra experience counted when it mattered most. 

What plays in Arsenal’s favour in 2023/24 is that both Arteta and his players will have learnt from last season’s disappointment. The manager has also worked hard to improve last season’s squad. But how will Arsenal’s new signings improve the club’s EPL chances this season? 

The signing of Declan Rice seems an obvious place to start assessing. The former West Ham skipper cost The Gunners an entire bank vault at £105 million. Despite this, we haven’t found any Arsenal supporters thinking he won’t be worth every penny. 

Rice is only 24. He has over 200 appearances for The Hammers and 43 England caps to boot. Rice will likely bring an increased air of stability and level-headedness to his new club’s defensive midfield. The departed Granit Xaka was a great player but, let’s face it, his emotions could get the better of him. Declan Rice is less likely to do the same. And he’s already a Premier League veteran!

Kai Havertz is another with Premier League experience. The Gunners will be hoping the German international can realise his club potential at the Emirates. Most fans likely found Havertz underwhelming at Chelsea, but he still showed some flashes of the brilliance that has earned him 37 international caps. 

Havertz is adaptable and can fill both attacking midfield and forward positions at his new club when necessary. Arteta values this ability, as it suits his attacking game plan. Havertz’s style can bring more out of players like Bakayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli.

Then there’s Jurriën Timber. The 22-year-old Dutchman should be a vital cog linking Arsenal’s defence to its attack, but could now miss much of the season. Timber suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury to his knee on his EPL debut. 

Mikel Arteta is taking action to minimise Timber’s loss. He’s making enquiries about Bayern Munich’s Benjamin Pavard, who’d capably fill the defender’s position.

Will Arsenal’s continued focus on youth pay off in 2023/24? We’ll wait and see, but two wins out of two so far is a great start. The champions have also lost Kevin De Bruyne to a long-term injury. Could The Gunners’ winning pedigree and off-season squad improvements narrow the gap to Man City this term? 

With added squad talent and experience, it’s likely we could witness a more sustained, season-long challenge in 2023/24. 

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