Paul Merson has predicted that Arsenal will claim a place in the Premier League top four next season ahead of Tottenham.
The fight for a spot in the Champions League is looking finely poised with the new campaign approaching with the top sides all using the transfer market to strengthen their squads.
Spurs managed to pip the Gunners to the final place towards the tail end of last season and both sides have since made big acquisitions to back their managers.
Antonio Conte has already brought in five new players – Ivan Perisic, Fraser Forster, Yves Bissouma, Richarlison and Clement Lenglet – as he prepared to take on his first full season as Spurs boss.
A sixth arrival in talented wing-back Djed Spence is expected at some point this week after Spurs agreed a £12.5 million deal with Middlesbrough, which could rise to £20 million with potential add-ons (Football.London).
Meanwhile, Arsenal scooped up Gabriel Jesus from Manchester City as their marquee addition for Mikel Arteta, as well as Fabio Vieira, Marquinhos and Matt Turner.
And with the battle for the top four expected to be intense again, ex-Arsenal midfielder Merson believes his former side have the edge over Spurs as the Lilywhites will also be preoccupied with competing in the Champions League.
He wrote in his column for Sportskeeda: “Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea pick themselves as the top three in whatever order and I’d be shocked if anything else were to happen.
“I’ll put Manchester United in the reckoning for a place in the top four because they are a massive club, but they haven’t done enough business at this point in time to stand a chance of securing Champions League football, so it should be between Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal.
“If I had to pick one of the two north London sides, I’ll have to go with Arsenal. Tottenham’s participation in the Champions League this season could be an issue for them, as they’ll have a bunch of tough midweek games to cater to in between their Premier League commitments.
“They don’t really have a big squad, which could make all the difference. Arsenal, on the other hand, should be able to manage their domestic commitments as the Europa League isn’t that high in terms of quality, at least in comparison to the Champions League.”
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Tottenham do have the intensity of the Champions League to contend with, but that is why they have moved in to bring in a number of quality players so early in the window.
Conte demanded to have more options at his disposal for this reason and as a world-class manager, he will definitely be capable of managing his squad of players to preserve their fitness.
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