With the Premier League season less than a week away we compare some of the teams’ squads who are gunning for the title. Next up is two of the sides most confident after the business they completed in the summer’s transfer window to date - Chelsea and Arsenal.
Goalkeeper: Thibaut Courtois vs Wojciech Szczesny
Such is Chelsea’s strength in the goalkeeping department either of their two options in this position are stronger than anyone in Arsenal’s ranks.
Szczesny is a useful stopper, but he isn’t in the league of Thibaut Courtois or Petr Cech and every other manager across the world is likely to be envious of the Blues’ line-up in this position.
Left-back: Filipe Luis vs Kieron Gibbs
It is hard on Gibbs that he is coming through in England’s strongest position. A player of his quality would ordinarily breeze into Three Lions’ squads, but his path to international recognition has been blocked by the likes of Ashley Cole, Leighton Baines and Luke Shaw.
It does, however, show that Gibbs is a defender who is regarded as a useful player, but not one who is quite at the elite-level.
The same argument could be used with Luis, who has only four Brazilian caps to his name, but the former Atletico Madrid man has proven his credentials at the highest level of European football over the past few years and looks an excellent buy from Jose Mourinho this summer.
Centre-back: Gary Cahill vs Laurent Koscielny
Gary Cahill’s reputation has grown exponentially in recent times following a series of credible performances for Chelsea and England, but he still doesn’t quite match-up to Laurent Koscielny.
The Arsenal defender has everything required of a modern-day centre-back. He is comfortable in possession, but also robust without it and he is undoubtedly one of the best in his position in the Premier League.
The Frenchman finished second in Arsenal’s player of the season vote last year and will be hoping for a repeat performance this year.
Centre-back: John Terry vs Per Mertesacker
A defender who took a while to adapt to the English game, Per Mertesacker was often criticised during his initial spell in the Premier League.
However, last year he was a rock at the heart of Arsenal’s defence – winning everything in the air and rarely getting beaten on the floor.
John Terry may win plaudits for his last-ditch defending, but Mertesacker reads the game more intelligently and now has a World Cup winners medal to prove this.
Right-back: Cesar Azpilicueta vs Mathieu Debuchy
One of Chelsea’s unsung heroes, Cesar Azpilicueta wins this contest comfortably. The Spaniard is rapidly becoming one of the best players in his position across the world.
He forced the departure of Ashley Cole, who was deemed as surplus to requirements, after a series of stellar performances at left-back last campaign and should improve even further this year in his most comfortable position.
Defensive midfield: Cesc Fabregas vs Mikel Arteta
In the battle of the creative Spaniards there can only be one winner. Arsenal fans know all about Cesc Fabregas’ qualities and, after being bought for around £30 million, he may well just turn out to be one of the best buys of the summer.
There are few facets to football that Fabregas struggles with and he is superior to Arteta, who is widely thought to need upgrading at the Emirates, in almost every department.
Defensive midfield: Nemanja Matic vs Aaron Ramsey
Nemanja Matic may be Chelsea’s most important player this season, given his role as the disciplined member of their midfield, but Aaron Ramsey’s emergence as a world-class talent has been a joy to watch.
The Welshman stepped up last season and has already shown signs that he is set to continue improving this time.
There is little to choose between two superb players, but Ramsey’s greater ability as an all-round midfielder gives him the edge.
Attacking midfield: Willian vs Alexis Sanchez
Arsenal’s marquee signing wins this battle of the South Americans. Sanchez has caused a huge boost around the Emirates, with many fans positive that they can launch a bid for the Premier League title following his arrival.
It is also easy to see why as the Chilean is one of the most gifted wingers in world football and his combination of pace and trickery and should terrorise defences across England this season.
Attacking midfield: Oscar vs Mesut Ozil
Mesut Ozil’s arrival at the Emirates was greeted with similar furore to that what has been caused by Sanchez’s arrival this summer.
The German was the man that signalled Wenger’s intent of spending big in the transfer window and broke them out of the years of prudence.
As such, a lot was expected of him and he took a bit of criticism for falling below those very high standards last season.
However, he is still a wonderfully gifted footballer and, on the back of a World Cup triumph, and having had a year to adapt to life in English football, he is expected to take him game to new heights this year. He may just be Arsenal’s most influential performer.
Attacking midfield: Eden Hazard vs Santi Cazorla
Santi Cazorla may be one of the most fascinating players to watch in the Premier League, but Eden Hazard’s greater goal-threat makes him the winner of this battle.
The Belgian is still only 23-years-old and has time to improve, but he is already established as a Premier League star and he will be looking to surpass last season’s tally of 14 goals this season.
A ridiculously talented dribbler, Hazard is widely recognised as Chelsea’s most dangerous attacking threat.
Striker: Diego Costa vs Olivier Giroud
Giroud has had a monopoly of Arsenal’s forward position since signing for the club two years ago and has largely done well, but Costa has more strings to his bow.
Whilst Giroud’s hulking stature and aerial strength makes him a dangerous target-man, Costa has all that and more – with his pace allowing him to get beyond defences.
Chelsea struggled for a potent attacker last season, but the acquisition of Costa should have ended that problem and will make them a stronger unit this time around.
Manager: Jose Mourinho vs Arsene Wenger
Two of the most well-respected managers in England, choosing between Mourinho and Wenger is a hard task, but the Frenchman takes the edge due to his sustained excellence.
The Chelsea boss may have called him a speciailist in failure, but Mourinho would be delighted to create a legacy like Wenger has at Arsenal and few mangers in the history of football have been as influential on a team as the 64-year-old has been on the Gunners.
Overall: Chelsea 6-6 Arsenal
Both sides have undoubtedly strengthened over the summer and, as such, there is little to choice between their starting line-ups.
Over the course of the season, however, Chelsea’s greater strength in depth may just give them the edge, but it is sure to be a close-run thing between the two London rivals.