It can be hard to judge teams based on their pre-season games. Each club has different preparation techniques and clubs from different leagues are often operating at varying levels of fitness. Some players start training late due to international commitments and of course travelling huge distances across many time zones can also take its toll.

Many top European Coaches place little emphasis on pre-season results and are more concerned with implementing new ideas and system, achieving desired fitness levels and bedding in new signings. With this in mind, it is wise not to place too much importance on pre-season results when making Premier League predictions. However, by watching enough warm-up matches, you can normally get a good idea about which teams are looking in good shape for the coming season.

The level of opposition that a team faces in pre-season can work for or against a team in terms of morale. For instance, Manchester United’s win over Barcelona may not give a true reflection of either team’s current standing in European football, but it should give the Red Devils a confidence boost heading into the new season. Meanwhile, Man City’s heavy defeat to Real Madrid and the injury to Fabian Delph will have left the Sky Blues feeling deflated in Melbourne. City’s performance will also be a worry as boss Manuel Pellegrini will be under pressure to prove that his team can compete in Europe this season.

Of the top four Premier League contenders only United and Arsenal remain unbeaten in pre-season. The Gunners have been perhaps the most impressive of all having scored 13 goals in three games and conceded just one. Their opponents have included Lyon (6-0) and Everton (3-1).

As well as the victory over Champions League winners Barcelona, Louis van Gaal’s team have enjoyed wins over teams from Mexico (1-0) and the USA (3-1). They have one final game against high quality opposition, when they face PSG at home this weekend, before facing Tottenham at Old Trafford in the opening game of the season.

Premier League champions Chelsea have had a distinctly average pre-season in terms of results so far but Blues Coach Jose Mourinho is not one who sweats too much over these results. The priority for the Portuguese boss has been to build fitness and give as much game time as possible to the squad.

Even if we try not to read too much into the pre-season results, it must be said that Arsenal have looked the fittest, most well-balanced and best prepared out of all the teams. The question is whether they can take this level and maintain it throughout the season. It certainly feels like everything is finally falling into place for Arsene Wenger and his team. With talk of more money to spend and rumours linking them with a move for Karim Benzema – the 9/2 currently available at Bet365 for the North Londoners to win the league, looks like a good value punt.

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