Last season, Arsenal missed out on top four by one point despite having qualification in their own hands as the season wound down.
If we assume Liverpool and City will fight it out over the top two places that leaves two slots on the table.
Chelsea finished two points ahead of Arsenal but under a rookie manager this season their lot is still unknown. They weren’t able to strengthen in the transfer window, forcing them to turn to young players, but that might actually turn out to be a good thing for them.
Arsenal strengthened significantly in the window while Tottenham did not and could even be weakened should Christian Eriksen decide to leave before the window closes. If he doesn’t sign a new deal, Spurs may have no choice but to sell him this summer, or in January, and we know they can’t replace him until the start of 2020 at the earliest.
They only finished one point ahead of Arsenal despite reportedly being the best Tottenham team for generations while Arsenal’s was one of the worst. Did Arsenal buy well enough in the summer to close that small gap? I think so.
Then you have United who have won just three of their last 15 games under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, losing nine. Like Arsenal, United are no longer the beast they were under Ferguson but no matter the opinion you might have about Unai Emery, he’s a far better manager than the United man with a proven record at the top of the game.
In addition, they’ve sold Romelu Lukaku and are trying to shift Alexis Sanchez, replacing those two in their squad with the 21-year-old Daniel James and 17-year-old Mason Greenwood. They still haven’t worked out how to get the best out of Paul Pogba while Harry Maguire might have come with an £80m price tag, but he is certainly not an £80m player.
Taking all that into account, a top four place seems up for grabs if Arsenal want it.
Much depends on luck, injuries and how the new players and youngsters perform (and how Arsenal manage in between selling Nacho Monreal and Kieran Tierney getting fit in October), but in the top four mini league, Arsenal have everything in place to finish first or second.
The game against Liverpool on Saturday told us everything and nothing. We know we are miles away from their level, but it seems that, little-by-little, the passive nature of the Arsenal team is being brushed away.