By Joe Nelson
Former Liverpool captain Jamie Carragher has predicted this could be the season Arsenal finally fall out of the top four.
The Gunners have clinched top-four finishes for each season during Arsene Wenger’s 20-year reign and finished second in the Premier League last season.
But former Liverpool defender Carragher, 38, is unconvinced by the team’s summer recruitment and believes they may fall short this season.
“He (Arsene Wenger) says finishing in the top four is like a winning a trophy and if Arsenal do finish in one of those places, it really will be like winning silverware,” Carragher wrote in the Daily Mail.
“They had a big chance to take the title last year but have still not sorted the problems that saw them left behind by Leicester.
“Everyone wants to be in the Champions League but it has never been harder to gain that golden ticket and I cannot help but wonder if this will be the campaign in which Wenger’s incredible sequence of always qualifying ends.”
Carragher highlights how injuries and the lack of replacements may be their downfall.
“Wenger needed a central defender to replace Per Mertesacker when he was fit, never mind injured for five months! With Arsenal’s squad being another year older and issues to address, they could be vulnerable.
“The threat, after all, has never been more widespread but the level of competition should make this a season in which you won’t want to miss a minute.”
He has also predicted a ferocious title challenge this season as he ushers in the era of the elite managers.
Carragher has claimed that expects this season’s title charge to be more competitive than ever, as he expects six coaches to battle in the quest to rip away Claudio Ranieri’s crown.
“Welcome to the World Championship of Managers, a season which will revolve around the men on the touchline like never before.” Carragher wrote in a column for the Daily Mail.
“This, I hope, is the start of something big for the Premier League. The arrival of Pep Guardiola and Antonio Conte and the return of Jose Mourinho, to do battle with Arsene Wenger, Jurgen Klopp and Mauricio Pochettino promises to make this a campaign that is both spectacular and dramatic.”
The Premier League has seen just two English Uefa Champions League finalists since the 2010-11 season (Manchester United 2010 and Chelsea 2011) and Carragher has lauded the strength of the managers hoping to bring English football back to the summit on the European stage.
“Think about it: in the Championship, there are two managers — Rafa Benitez and Roberto Di Matteo — who each boast a Champions League triumph. They are in that division because there are no openings in the Premier League.
“My wish, though, is the competition between these managers propels English teams back to the top of European football and I can see parallels with 2004, when there was a four-way battle for supremacy.”
Carragher played for Liverpool in a decade dominated by English teams going the distance in Europe’s biggest competition and is eager to see a return to the ‘golden period’.
“From 2005 through to 2012, there was only one year (2010) when the Champions League final was not contested by an English team. Our clubs won the biggest trophy three times and nobody could argue that we did not have the best league and the best teams in Europe. It was a golden period.
“All being well, the competition will carry the Premier League back to Europe’s summit — and kick-start another spell of domination.”
In other Liverpool news, this Premier League side are ready to demolish their transfer record in bid to sign Reds striker.