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Declan Rice, Kai Havertz and Moises Caicedo - How Arsenal stay ahead of the chasing pack and keep pace with Man City

Ryan Sidle

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Declan Rice, Kai Havertz and Moises Caicedo - How Arsenal stay ahead of the chasing pack and keep pace with Man City

Whether they bottled or not in the end is irrelevant, Arsenal had a magnificent season that no one would have imagined a year ago.

Before the campaign kicked off people were concentrating on the All or Nothing docuseries and whether or not Mikel Arteta's cooky ideas worked.

By the end of it you had to wonder if other managers were gathering their players around a lightbulb in hope of inspiring a similar turnaround.

Without the Gunners it really would have been a procession for Manchester City to become Premier League winners for a third year in a row.

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Despite that, Arteta has a lot of work to do to stave off the chasing pack and keep any sort of pace with the champions and here we've outlined what they need to do.

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The most important thing

The Emirates Stadium on the final day of the league season didn't feel like a place that was going to allow pity to seep into the party.

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Mikel Arteta needs to instil that place of pride into the players and make sure they aren’t mentally affected by their eventual failure in the 2022/23 title race.

Likewise, they are now no longer just the hunters, they are also being hunted too and the team have to be ready for that shift in mentality.

Certainly getting the tone right around the club does seem to have been the manager's forte so far and he'll really have to make sure he keeps that going.

Manchester United, Newcastle United, Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea and even Aston Villa will fancy their chances of making top four, never mind City.

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Arteta has done a wonderful job at Arsenal but his next task might be the biggest yet. (Image credit: Alamy)
Arteta has done a wonderful job at Arsenal but his next task might be the biggest yet. (Image credit: Alamy)

Top transfer target

We know that Declan Rice is Arsenal's top target and that the West Ham United star is almost certainly going to end up at the club.

With that deal seemingly nearing completion, unless Manchester City follow up on rumoured late interest and hijack any move, the name of the game has to be strength in depth for Arteta, especially when it comes to cover at centre-back.

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For all the talk of how the Gunners 'bottled' the title race, it was the loss of William Saliba that really hit them hard, especially with Takehiro Tomiyasu suffering injury at the same time.

Bayer Leverkusen’s Edmond Tapsoba is young and with a decent amount of experience in defence, he's quick and tall but could be missing in January for the Africa Cup of Nations.

Marc Guehi is another young talent who has demonstrated he can already play in the Premier League but would he accept being an option rather than a guaranteed starter?

Rob Holding wasn't the ideal replacement for William Saliba, meaning Arsenal need to improve their strength in defence. (Image credit: Alamy)
Rob Holding wasn't the ideal replacement for William Saliba, meaning Arsenal need to improve their strength in defence. (Image credit: Alamy)
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Who needs to go

Granit Xhaka doesn't NEED to be let go but it certainly looks like the midfielder has played his final game for Arsenal, his career certainly came full circle as he left somewhat a hero.

Fortunately for Arteta, his squad is not bloated with deadwood unlike some of their competitors but the likes of Kieran Tierney may want first-team football next season.

Rob Holding could be let go considering he's probably the man in defence who needs replacing most after failing to stand in effectively enough for Saliba.

The forgotten man Nicolas Pepe will surely leave the club too after being on loan with Nice last season and the North Londoners will surely be glad of the rise of Saudi Arabian football who can offer him the kind of riches few can given he is still on big-money terms.

Okay hands up, who forgot Pepe was at Arsenal still? (Image credit: Alamy)
Okay hands up, who forgot Pepe was at Arsenal still? (Image credit: Alamy)

Other additions

As well as Rice, there's no doubt that the Gunners could add yet more quality to their midfield with Moises Caicedo heavily linked with the club.

Ilkay Gundogan has also been piquing the interest of Pep Guardiola's former assistant at City but he looks more likely to go to Barcelona.

Sassuolo star Davide Frattesi may have been a good option but he is expected to stay in Italy instead so maybe a cheeky bid for PSV's Xavi Simons could add some real quality.

Then again, if Sergej Milinkovic-Savic is ever going to leave Lazio then maybe now could be the time, that's if other alternatives can't be signed.

No doubt the team is also going to need another full-back of some description if Tierney goes, someone who can play more in the mould of Zinchenko would be a good idea, though signing his former teammate Joao Cancelo might be a stretch.

Despite Gabriel Jesus' impressive season some more goals wouldn't go amiss at the Emirates Stadium, even if it's not an out-and-out striker.

Arsenal were rebuffed by Brighton in their attempts to sign Caicedo in January but should try again. (Image credit: Alamy)
Arsenal were rebuffed by Brighton in their attempts to sign Caicedo in January but should try again. (Image credit: Alamy)

One more thing

It seems that Arsenal are interested in signing Kai Havertz but one can't help but feel that it's not the signing that they should be making.

Sure, Havertz's form at Bayer Leverkusen made him worth signing for the Blues but he hasn't shown enough in England to suggest he's worth the kind of transfer fee he would command and especially if it helps Arsenal's rivals sign Caicedo or someone else.

With Petr Cech, David Luiz, Willian and Jorginho all having swapped West London for North in recent years with little success, maybe it's time to end the pursuit of Chelsea players.

Featured Image Credit: Alamy

Topics: Arsenal, Declan Rice, Kai Havertz, Mikel Arteta, Moises Caicedo, Premier League, Transfers, Spotlight

Ryan Sidle
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