Is 5/1 on Arsenal Winning the 2023-24 Premier League Good Value?

The wait for the new Premier League season is all but over, with the opening clash between newly promoted Burnley and reigning champions Manchester City kicking off the 2023-24 campaign at Turf Moor at 8:00 p.m. BST on August. Understandably, Manchester City is the overwhelming, odds-on favorite to retain the title with the best online sportsbooks. Still, with odds of 5/1 on Arsenal upsetting the apple cart, punters may be tempted to back the Gunners.

Loyal Arsenal fans thought the 20-year wait to see their beloved team lift the Premier League trophy was ending last season; the famous Invincibles of 2003-04 were the last Arsenal side to become champions of England. They watched their team sit proudly atop the Premier League standings for 30 of the first 33 game weeks, only for the wheels to fall off at the business end of the campaign. While Arsenal won three, lost three, and drew three of their final nine fixtures, a resurgent Manchester City won seven, drew one and lost one, with the draw and defeat coming after they had locked in the title.

A Lack of Depth Cost Arsenal Last Season

A lack of depth in key areas of the pitch became evident during the 2022-23 season’s run-in. Where Manchester City could call upon at least one elite-level replacement in every position, Arsenal could not, and it ultimately cost them the title. For example, William Saliba had been instrumental in the heart of Arsenal’s defense, striking up a fantastic partnership with Brazilian Gabriel. Saliba landed awkwardly after jumping for a header against Sporting Lisbon in the Europa League on March 16 and did not feature again for the rest of the season.

Rob Holding stepped in and replaced Saliba for the Gunners’ remaining fixtures. All due respect to Holding, but he is not the quality of central defender you want to rely on when mounting a serious title charge, and it showed. Mikel Arteta knew his young squad needed reinforcements to stand a chance of stopping Manchester City from winning a fourth consecutive Premier League title, and reinforcements are what the Spaniard has received.

New Additions Add More Depth and Talent to the Arsenal Squad

Arsenal has spent £208.6 million bringing three new faces to their squad. £38.6 million of that sum went on prising Jurrien Timber away from Eredivisie outfit Ajax. Timber had been a target for Erik ten Hag at Manchester United, having played under him at Ajax, but opted to join the Gunners.

Timber prefers playing at centre half but can deputize at full back. He is quick, strong, comfortable on the ball, and can pick out a pass. He has all the attributes of a top-tier defender and should fit perfectly into the Arsenal starting XI and give Artta more options at the back.

Strangely, Arsenal forked out £65 million on Germany’s Kai Havertz despite him often flattering to deceive during his three-season spell with London rivals Chelsea. Havertz prefers playing as an attacking midfielder, a position club captain Martin Odergaard occupies for Arsenal, but he can play as a center forward or a False 9. Havertz seems to have found his scoring boots, having scored in the 5-3 victory over Barcelona and in the 5-0 demolition of an MLS All-Stars team during preseason.

Capturing the signature of Declan Rice was a significant coup for the Gunner, even if it did set them back £105 million. Manchester City was interested in the England midfielder, but Rice chose to stay in London after leaving his boyhood club, West Ham United. Jude Bellingham aside, Rice is arguably the best English central midfielder right now, and one would expect him to play more of a No. 8 role for Arsenal this season, giving him more freedom to join the relentless Gunners attacks.

Why Arsenal Look Good Value For Premier League Glory

Much talk among Arsenal fans and football pundits surrounds Arsenal’s lack of an out-and-out striker. Gabriel Jesus, when fit, leads the line perfectly, but he missed 15 games last year through injury. Eddie Nketiah is a solid backup for Jesus, although he does not excel when playing as a lone striker. At the same time, Folarin Balogun, fresh from a successful loan spell in France, looks to be heading out of the Emirates on a permanent basis as he wants first-team football.

However, despite people calling out for a new number nine, only Manchester City outscored Arsenal in the Premier League last season and did so by a mere six goals. Everyone talks about how incredible the Manchester City frontline is, yet the Citizens scored 94 goals in 38 Premier League games, and Arsenal found the back of the net 88 times. Scoring goals is not a problem for Arsenal, and that should remain the case with the plethora of attacking talent the team has on its books.

The Arsenal squad is much stronger this season than last, even with former club captain Granit Xhaka leaving for the Bundesliga. Arsenal only just lost out on a 14th top-flight title last year, so why cannot this team go all the way in 2023-24?

Are City Stronger Than Last Year?

Of course, it would be ridiculous to write off the chances of Manchester City, and nobody here is doing that. City is, after all, coming off the back of a treble-winning season, having captured the Premier League, FA Cup, and UEFA Champions League. Yet Pep Guardiola has been uncharacteristically quiet in the transfer market, at least for incoming players. Mateo Kovacic is the only confirmed new face, although Croatian defender Josko Gvardiol looks set to become a City player after a £77 million fee was agreed with RB Leipzig. Gvardiol is a good player, but does City actually need him?

Money is no object for the boys from the Etihad Stadium, so they could bring in some new faces, but right now, Guardiola is going onto a Premier League season without a natural right-sided midfielder or winger and with a squad that lost Ilkay Gundogan and Riyad Mahrez during the summer. Sure, Guardiola demands that all his players are flexible and adaptable and loves playing players out of position – here’s looking at you, John Stones – but you cannot help but think that this is Arsenal’s best chance of stopping City marching on to the title once again.

Does this Arsenal team finish above Manchester City and win the Premier League more than one time in five? Yes, yes, it does.

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