Arsene Wenger believes the money flooding into the Premier League from next season will bring an end to the traditional big four and says qualifying for the Champions League will become ‘harder than ever’.
The Arsenal boss knows victory over Manchester City on Sunday will seal a top-three finish and guaranteed Champions League football for his side for next year.
But the Gunners had greater aspirations having topped the table at the turn of the year, only to be usurped by the superb form of newly-crowned champions Leicester.
And Wenger reckons the influx of television money into the league from the start of the new campaign means the surprise success of the Foxes could be repeated.
Arsenal are looking to secure a 20th successive season in the Champions League but the fight can only get tougher, according to the Frenchman.
“The big question mark is what happened with Leicester can happen again because first of all every English team can buy players,” he said.
“The difference out on the market between those who really make a difference and are just a fraction better, where players go to lower teams with a bit more spirit and a bit more fighting, bit more support and a bit less expectation.
“And maybe a team that nobody expects now will come next season and surprise everyone. All the English clubs have the money to buy now.
“You’ve got West Ham moving into a new stadium with more potential with the finances that brings. Tottenham are creating a new stadium as well.
“So in a few years the potential in England will be much more shared than everywhere else and you can get more surprises.”
Asked if the days of the traditional top-four are at an end, the 66-year-old replied: “Exactly. This might be questioned in the future How many teams can win the title next season then?
“I don’t know. It’s difficult to say. Let’s go to the start of this season, predictions were: One Chelsea will win it again. Number two, Man City. OK.
“In the end any pundit who would have predicted Leicester would have lost their job. And that is what can happen again.
“Clubs down our league can buy the best players in France, Spain and in Italy. So they have the potential to build a big team.”
Arsenal’s capitulation from league favourites to also rans has not only been down to the form of the likes of Leicester and Spurs.
Their own form has been poor and Wenger knows his own team need to improve ahead of next season – if they are to keep up with the likes of Sunday’s hosts City.
“We have to add something defensively as a team to be more ruthless,” he conceded.
“Once you are 2 up at West Ham you finish 3-3 you question the team defensively. We were not strong enough defensively. We gave cheap goals away against Man Utd and were punished for it.
“I don’t think we are soft but we need to toughen up. In some games we were caught, but a lot of the teams have the same problem.”