Liverpool Are Being Left Behind By Arsenal As Man City's Main Challengers

Jurgen Klopp's Reds are slipping while Arsenal are improving
07:00, 28 Jun 2023

Arsenal are laying down a marker as the definitive challengers to Manchester City’s Premier League dominance. Chelsea’s Kai Havertz will be announced as an Arsenal player any second now. Mikel Arteta has also approved bids for Declan Rice of West Ham United and Ajax’s in-demand defender Jurrien Timber. Adding these top-line talents to a squad that finished second in the Premier League and mounted a very real title challenge last season could be decisive.

Liverpool have occupied that “best of the rest” slot for the last few seasons. Lifting one Premier League title, a Champions League and a domestic double since 2018, they have established themselves as a superb outfit. But the wheels came off for Jurgen Klopp’s men last season, as they slumped to a fifth place finish.


Unlike Arsenal, who have acted quickly to improve an already-excellent side, Liverpool are moving slowly when it comes to plugging their gaps. The early capture of Brighton & Hove Albion’s Alexis Mac Allister was promising, but since then there has been radio silence at Anfield. This is worrying, particularly with Arsenal nipping at their heels.

The fact Liverpool can no longer offer European football is obviously a mitigating circumstance. Attracting the world’s elite is difficult without offering them the glittering continental stage. But the gold rush of big name talent to the Saudi Pro League this summer shows that isn’t the be-all and end-all. 

The scale of the surgery needed at Anfield should be a concern for Liverpool fans though. Roberto Firmino, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, James Milner and Naby Keita have all left the club. While this group is comprised of either ageing stars or back-up picks, that’s still a set of players who made a combined 104 appearances last season. That’s without even digging into the changes and improvements that need to be made to the remaining squad.

Liverpool’s midfield remains tame. Arthur Melo’s loan last season was a desperation signing that cannot be repeated. The Merseyside club took themselves out of the Jude Bellingham race early on and have surprisingly gone MIA from the Declan Rice bidding war too. But with captain Jordan Henderson and Thiago Alcantara aged 33 and 32 respectively, some freshening up is needed in this area.


Firmino also needs a replacement, having made 35 appearances last term. For the second consecutive summer, Liverpool have lost a member of their iconic Mohamed Salah-Sadio Mane-Roberto Firmino front three. While Diogo Jota, Luis Diaz and Darwin Nunez have joined in recent years, you still feel they’re an attacker short.

Arsenal are at a completely different stage in their journey. The rebuilding phase is done. Arsenal stuck by Arteta during some difficult early moments in his tenure. While the Gunners won an FA Cup during his first year in charge, they suffered an eighth place finish in his first full campaign. But the Spaniard was entrusted with a root-and-branch refit of the squad, which is now paying dividends.

While Liverpool are picking up the pieces of a failed campaign, Arsenal are applying the finishing touches to a team that led the league for much of last season. Stars like Bukayo Saka and Martin Odegaard remain in situ, while big names are being targeted to join them. As they prepare for their return to the Champions League, the future looks bright.

Perhaps not bright enough to usurp a Manchester City side that has just scooped English football’s second ever treble. But Arsenal look like natural heirs to Liverpool’s former position. A world class team capable of beating anyone on their day. The sort of squad whose time just may come if City slip up. A team capable of going deep into the Champions League.

Watching this unfold will surely hurt for Liverpool fans accustomed to being the only club who could rival City. They could get there again, but it will take more motivated action in the market than we’ve seen so far. It may also not be possible this season. Liverpool’s team has been allowed to grow old together and that is now being seen on the pitch. A true rebuild may take a few windows. All the while, Arsenal gain ground.

Football is rarely defined entirely by the transfer market. If it were then Chelsea’s concerted attack on the last couple of windows would have seen them holding silverware by season’s end. Rather, it is the nature of your recruitment and the coaching of your existing squad. Klopp is nothing if not a world class coach. Perhaps he will mould his side into challengers once more. Perhaps Arsenal’s new boys won’t gel, or City will pip them to the post and sign Rice. If football was a sure thing we wouldn’t have to play the games themselves. But as it stands, it is Arsenal rather than Liverpool who are best equipped to challenge City’s monopoly on football’s biggest prizes.

arsenal to win the epl next season: 15/2*

*18+ | BeGambleAware | Odds Subject To Change

Suggested Searches:
The Sportsman
Manchester United
Manchester City
Premier League
Sportsman HQ
72-76 Cross St
Manchester M2 4JG
We will not ask you to provide any personal information when using The Sportsman website. You may see advertisement banners on the site, and if you choose to visit those websites, you will accept the terms and conditions and privacy policy applicable to those websites. The link below directs you to our Group Privacy Policy, and our Data Protection Officer can be contacted by email at: [email protected]

All original material is Copyright © 2019 by The Sportsman Communications Ltd.
Other material is copyright their respective owners.