Arsenal went into the 2022/23 season with high hopes of forcing their way back into the top four in the Premier League.
The Gunners finished fifth last term and some impressive summer recruitment has ramped up expectations around the club.
A run of five successive victories at the start of the new campaign sparked tentative title talk, but a defeat at Manchester United demonstrated there is still work to be done.
Despite that result, Arsenal are ranked third in the latest Premier League betting to claim top spot behind Manchester City and Liverpool.
City are just one point behind Arsenal after six games, with Liverpool a further five points adrift in seventh place after making a slow start to the season.
While Pep Guardiola’s side are strongly fancied to retain the title, Bacary Sagna has tipped Arsenal to be their main competition this season.
Sagna played for both clubs during his career and believes they will battle for top spot this term ahead of their rivals.
“I don’t see any other team that can challenge them (Man City),” he said. “Of course you can’t totally rule out Liverpool, but they have lost Sadio Mane and don’t look the same without him.
“Mane and Mohamed Salah complemented each other so well and were so consistent, I’m not sure Liverpool will be feared in quite the same way this season.
“I think teams are just paying the way they want to play rather than just working defensively to stop Mane and Salah.
“Having already dropped points it’ll be difficult for Liverpool to catch up.”
Arsenal’s improvement since Mikel Arteta took over as manager has been steady rather than spectacular, but he undoubtedly appears to have the club heading in the right direction.
The Gunners’ summer recruitment was impressive, with Gabriel Jesus, Oleksandr Zinchenko and Fabio Vieira amongst their most noteworthy signings.
The failure to sign a central midfielder could scupper Arsenal’s hopes of being Premier League winners, but the squad certainly looks capable of challenging for the top four.
Arteta has gradually moulded the squad to his liking, getting rid of plenty of deadwood and adding quality players to his options.
His methodology bears several similarities with Guardiola, which is understandable as the Spaniard initially learned his craft as a coach under his compatriot.
Although comparisons between the pair are inevitable, Arteta is very much his own man and is keen to stamp his ideologies on the Gunners.
Sagna believes both bosses have a single-minded approach to football management and is keen to see them go head-to-head this season.
“Both of them are fully committed to the job,” he added. “They want to give back the knowledge they got to learn as player.
“I’m not surprised that they worked together because they have the same values and ideas about football.
“Mikel was very young when he was a coach at Manchester City. It was a lot of responsibility to be Pep’s assistant.
“But he was very impressive and eventually Pep said to him: ‘Okay, Mikel, now you’re ready to have your own team and try by yourself’.”