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  1. There’s only one magic number - 114 114 is the magic number. How come? Because that is when you have won all your matches in the Premier League. And the best so far? 100 points in 2018 for Manchester City. In recent years City have moved into realms only achieved in a few leagues such as Bayern Munich in Germany, Real Madrid in Spain, or Juventus in Italy. Bayern have 33 titles, well ahead of the best in England. Real Madrid have 36. Juventus also have 36. Bayern have a 91 points record but from 34 matches. Madrid have 100 from 38 matches. Juventus have 102 from 38 matches. Juventus will do anything to stay top and have been relegated to prove it These are astonishing numbers. They point to a supremacy that emphasises the gap between the top and the rest. Is it good? I say no. It means that there is little fairness in the system and the big teams grab any margin they can in their favour. Any advantage is a good advantage Margins are the reality now in major sports. What will give you any advantage no matter how small. The aim? To get to 100%. Then you win all matches. Before, if your star player or players were injured you would lose, but 5 subs and huge squads mean that, for instance, when Ederson at City was injured, Ortega came in and nobody could spot any difference. Guardiola rotated with abandon last season and still got 91 points. De Bruyne and Haaland were also injured but the margins were covered. Grealish was regarded as vital the previous season but this season struggled for a game. No Ederson - no problem Having a top class large squad of almost interchangeable players gives you the most improvement to your margins. The capacity to hire and fire players is also crucial. Guardiola and his team rarely seem to get it wrong. Cole Palmer? There is De Bruyne, Foden, Rodri, Silva, Grealish and many others there. He probably would have had to wait for a chance that might not have come. We must sell better One margin in this area that City have been doing better than Arsenal is in selling. We have let a lot of players go cheaply. Pepe, anyone? We have bought better in the past two seasons. Rice, Havertz, Trossard and Raya spring to mind but I feel we will be trying to sell players this summer and I am not sure if we will get a good price. I suggested here that up to 15 players could go and some may have to go cheaply. We will probably buy 3 or 4 but most likely for big money. Cole Palmer - Chelsea's best player couldn't get a game at City My point is that all margins have to be in our favour as they are at City. It is not enough to get most things right. City are close to achieving that 100% margin and we must beat them. Can we? We have to get everything right What do we need to get right? The players for sure. They must be good enough to win all matches. The manager must be able to get the maximum from his players. Does Arteta get more from his players than Guardiola? We will see. The recruitment and selling team must be able to buy and sell sustainably. Letting players go for free or cheap is a margin against us. The backroom team for the health and fitness of the players must ensure that injuries, stamina, and speed, etc. are kept to the best possible margin. Pepe - great business for Arsenal The business people in the club must gain every margin they can in maximising revenue from ticket sales, TV rights, merchandising, and memberships, to grow year on year. City have consistently moved upwards in fan numbers every year. Can Arsenal do the same? The Kroenkes are crucial to gaining the upper hand I feel that it is these margins for success that the Kroenkes are aware of. They know they must gain an advantage over City if they are to win. City, are, I suspect, saying the same thing. They must ensure that the margins they have at the moment are kept. Guardiola has come out on top of Arteta every year so far. We must get better. Can we? Who are the rivals? Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea, Aston Villa, the Spuds, and Newcastle are the chasers. I believe there are grounds for optimism with these clubs. I will go through them as they are written above but it is difficult, at this juncture to say who are the strongest. Upheaval at all rivals bar one Manchester United seem to need a squad overhaul with plenty of players coming in. Bedding them in will be a challenge. They also need to get their backroom teams at their peak to minimise injuries, etc and the new business management team will probably take some time to get their margins right. I will be surprised if Man Utd can get things right quickly enough. If they do start to get all margins up the following season could see them back challenging. They have huge revenue and a large fanbase to help them along. If Ten Hag is the right man this season will show this. Top four will be their best hope I feel. Will the new manager slot in at Liverpool? It is a huge ask and rarely happens when an iconic manager departs. Lots of good players and a system in place that tries to maximise the margins as Liverpool have got huge points totals in recent years but again I feel that they need to be really lucky with Arne Slot. Again I feel that top four is the best they can hope for. Arne Slot needs everything to go right at Liverpool - could be another Ten Hag Chelsea again have a new manager and while that worked for Abramovich it doesn’t work for Boehly. They need everything working right everywhere to challenge City and us. All margins wound to the top. Another bad year, I expect. Villa could make a jump upwards Villa? Unai Emery knows all about chasing down the margins. He will be working hard to get to 100%. Champions League football will make it harder. I feel he can be the dark horse, particularly if he buys right. The biggest danger. The Spuds? It seems like they have shot themselves in the foot again. When the Euros is over there are still top clubs and countries out there looking for a manager that wants to win. Ange could be their man. He lost the battle to get them to think like winners and that’s a big margin to change. He won’t be able. He will need the chasing pack to be poor, I feel, if he is to get top four. Newcastle? Their Arab owners are looking at every margin and trying to get them in their favour but the financial ones are a hamstring. Rumours are they have to sell. They could challenge for top four but I suspect they won’t quite get there. We will need more points, maybe quite a few more No player must be irreplaceable - not even Saliba If Arteta and the gang manage to put a couple more small margins in our favour we can do it. They will look at every area and see where we can improve. But so will City. Last year was our lucky year with minimal injuries. We will need to buy well and for the whole squad to be ready. Arteta will need two top players in every position so that even if William, Bukayo, Declan, or Martin get injured, we can carry on winning. We will need a huge amount of points and if I am right that the chasing pack are weaker this year, several more than last season. We will need to be close to that 100%. We need the magic number 114 in our sights.
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