When Arsenal fell short of a first league title since 2004 last season, there were understandably fears they may have missed their chance.
Leading the Premier League for almost the entirety of the campaign, Manchester City with Erling Haaland firing, racked up a run of 14 wins and one draw towards the end of the season to take the title.
That meant Mikel Arteta’s side ended the year trophyless, but it was still a hugely successful campaign for the runners-up, finishing nine points clear of third-placed Manchester United, securing a lucrative Champions League return.
In the background, though, was an annoying reminder that Liverpool had an uncharacteristically poor campaign, big spenders Chelsea were in crisis, and Tottenham and Man United certainly had more to offer.
All suggestions are that a number of those sides could be back at the top, and that things will be even more difficult for 2023/24, without even thinking about treble-winners City improving and moving further ahead.
However, two months on from what possibly felt like a sad end to the season, Arsenal head into the Community Shield clash with Man City – live on talkSPORT – in a better position than they ever have been under their young manager.
Arteta has been fully backed in the transfer market to an extent perhaps beyond what most fans were dreaming of, securing gigantic signings in all three outfield positions.
The £65million deal for Kai Havertz came out of nowhere, and rather than being marquee, it turned out to almost be an added bonus considering what came next.
Jurrien Timber was secured from Ajax for £38m in a transfer that could revolutionise the defence, offering versatility and international class for a group already full of it.
But then just days later came the big one – Declan Rice.
After years of struggling in the market and often seeing their best players poached, Arsenal instead bought in one of the best.
Bagging the former West Ham captain and England regular for a club record £105m, the era of losing talents like Robin van Persie and Cesc Fabregas to rivals was suddenly a distant memory.
Meanwhile, Guardiola has lost one of his most important players
And on top of that, they beat City to his signature, which may prove symbolic should a power shift occur this summer.
Manager Pep Guardiola couldn’t compete for the midfield controller despite his side’s Abu Dhabi millions, and the bad news for the Spaniard doesn’t stop there.
Reaching football utopia with a treble win, a number of his trusted greats have decided to move on, with captain Ilkay Gundogan leaving a gaping hole in midfield by joining Barcelona for free.
Riyad Mahrez followed him out the door with a move to Al Ahli, and Kyle Walker looks like the next to depart to Bayern Munich.
Bernardo Silva, Aymeric Laporte and Kalvin Phillips are also subjects of transfer interest, while coming the other way has so far just been Mateo Kovacic and Josko Gvardiol.
The Croatia regulars will very likely thrive in Guardiola’s style of play, but won’t replace Mahrez.
Guardiola himself has indicated as much, sounding more downbeat than usual in pre-season as he attempts one of his more challenging squad refreshes and admits: “Saudi Arabia has changed the market.”
It’s hard to imagine he’s too worried with Haaland, Kevin De Bruyne and Jack Grealish still firing on all cylinders, but with a Community Shield meeting with Arsenal days away, it’s clear which side has had the better summer so far.
And while the real challenge starts a week later with a Premier League curtain raiser against Burnley, City may well not be quite ready for what Arsenal are set to throw at them in a tone-setting and potentially season-defining curtain-raiser at Wembley.
Manchester City v Arsenal in the Community Shield is live on talkSPORT at 4pm on Sunday 6 August
The new talkSPORT match centre
Keep up-to-date with all the latest football fixtures, results and standings in our new match centre.
Premier League fixtures
Premier League table
All fixtures and results
All league tables
The curtain has officially been raised on the 2020/2021 Premier League season, with excitement building ahead of what is set to be a captivating campaign. As the action kicked off last month, one team in particular has been making some noise in the transfer window – Arsenal.
Since the appointment of their new manager Mikel Arteta, Arsenal have undergone a radical overhaul in the transfer window. Thus far, they have reinforced their midfield and defence, and the impact has already been noticed.
Granit Xhaka and Dani Ceballos have been brought back from Real Madrid to strengthen the centre of the park, while William Saliba has been brought in from Saint Étienne at center back. These deals reflect a clear change of direction in the club’s transfer policy, as they look to bring in more young talent as opposed to experienced players.
The club has also signed defensive midfielder Thomas Partey from Atletico Madrid for £45 million. This is a big statement of intent from Arsenal – the sort of transfer that would normally be beyond their reach.
However, it is the potential singing of Houssem Aouar from Lyon that has caught the most attention. Aouar is one of the best midfielders in Europe and his arrival would make Arsenal a serious force to be reckoned with in the Premier League this season.
These developments have raised eyebrows and even caused some consternation among Arsenal’s rivals, especially Manchester City. City had looked on course to challenge Liverpool for the Premier League title, but this summer Arsenal have emerged as genuine contenders.
Whilst Manchester City remain the favorites, Arsenal’s business in the transfer window is sure to concern them heading into the new season. With the signings of Thomas Partey and Houssem Aouar in particular, Arsenal could be the surprise package of the season if they can get these players settled in quickly.
It is certainly an exciting time for Arsenal fans with the team’s heavy investment in the transfer window, as they aim to break into the top four and put up a serious challenge for the Premier League title. The opening weeks of the new season will reveal more about their credentials, but it is no doubt that Arsenal have now made their presence felt among the contenders.