Manchester United become first victim of Edu transfer decision to give Arsenal top-four success – Tom Canton

Arsenal are in a race to secure Champions League qualification this season and have remained in and ahead of the pack for much of the season. Mikel Arteta has seen the six summer signings bring a huge improvement to his side’s production.

There were temptations this summer and this current January window to sign more experienced and established players who would have cost a lot of money in salaries and fees. The acquisition of Willian in 2020 quickly proved to be a mistake and at the end of the campaign Arsenal and their fans were relieved to see his contract torn up.

Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur appear to be the Gunners’ biggest rivals for fourth place along with West Ham United. Even Chelsea’s poor form could see them dragged into the fold.

All clubs made big signings this summer, but United, in particular, were brought in to sign Cristiano Ronaldo, who has since been credited with taking away previous seasons’ successes from Bruno Fernandes and Mason Greenwood.

Spurs managed to keep Harry Kane but until recently the striker’s form had started to pick up after a disgruntled and possibly unsettled start.

Arsenal have signed six players, all aged 23 or younger, despite links to a certain Philippe Coutinho. These reports persisted into the January window and there were even suggestions from Spain that Arsenal were considering a loan move for the Brazilian.

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Edu, however, decided not to pursue and Aston Villa landed the Barcelona man.

Villa were seen at the start of the season as a possible threat to the usual European hopefuls. They beat Arsenal to the signing of Emi Buendia and despite losing Jack Grealish brought a lot of talent.

The winter saw Coutinho joined by impressive Everton full-back Lucas Digne. The pair made their debut in Saturday night’s clash with Manchester United. Despite a 2-0 loss, both players were instrumental in the game’s comeback, with Coutinho scoring the equalizer himself.

Arsenal comfortably beat Villa earlier in the season at the Emirates 3-1. A game that featured plenty of strong performances from Arteta success stories such as Sambi Lokonga and Nuno Tavares. Even a shock goal from Thomas Partey added another element to a great evening.

A stronger Villa could be a decisive advantage for Arsenal if they manage to claw back three points from the Birmingham-based club.

With Coutinho and Digne in tow, and Edu deciding not to halt Villa’s pursuit of the Brazilian in particular, Arsenal can hope to see other top-four rivals robbed of points when they face Steven’s side. Gerard.

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