Arsenal’s Champions League return hinges on one advantage Mikel Arteta cannot squander

It’s that time again: a new Premier League season is upon us.

While slightly later than its usual mid-August start, there is a great deal of excitement for the upcoming campaign, even with continued uncertainty over when fans will be allowed back into stadiums.

With Fulham and Arsenal getting the new season underway at Craven Cottage in Saturday’s lunchtime kick-off, our Reach PLC regional football writers have been penning their predictions for the new campaign.

Last season, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea made up the top-four, and the race for Champions League qualification is likely to be just as compelling this time around.

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Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur look well-placed to fight for a spot, while Leicester City and Wolverhampton Wanderers will feel as though they can sustain another challenge having featured prominently in last season’s top-four battle.

Expectations surrounding Arsenal have been heightened, of course, following their strong finish last season, which included beating Manchester City and Chelsea on route to winning the FA Cup.

With the new season dawning, here are the top-four predictions from Reach’s team of reporters.

James Benge, Arsenal

Man City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Man Utd: Will there be growing pains for this much-changed Chelsea team? Probably but in the end you have to believe that a squad that has so dramatically improved will take a step forward on the pitch although I think it will be 2021/22 before they’re contenders. Expect Arsenal to push Manchester United hard but I’d back the latter to win a few more ugly games, to grind out results against lesser teams where the Gunners will drop points.

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