Cape Town - Arsenal defender Per Mertesacker believes their title rivals may have the upper hand this coming season after strengthening during the current transfer window.
The Gunners have been rather quiet again in the off-season, compared with the likes of Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United, who have all bolstered their squads with big-name signings.
Arsene Wenger has, to date, only brought in defender Rob Holding, midfielder Granit Xhaka and striker Takuma Asano, although he has been heavily linked with Lyon forward Alexandre Lacazette and Leicester winger Riyad Mahrez.
Mertesacker feels Wenger's side were fortunate to pip north London rivals Tottenham to second place in the Premier League last term and claims his team may struggle to challenge for domestic honours in the new campaign, given the heavy transfer activity of their fellow contenders.
"The way last season went, we were quite lucky to finish second," the German is quoted as saying by The Sun. "We turned things around at the end but it was kind of a miracle we finished runners-up.
"What really disappointed us was that Leicester were able to take advantage of all the other big teams suffering and we couldn't do the same. That will be a big motivation next season -- to keep up with all those good teams who finished behind us.
"Of course, those big clubs will be stronger this time. That's what I expect as they'll start the season with a lot of new players. A lot of transfer business has already been done and it won't be easy for us this time, especially with all the signings going to the other clubs.
"So we also need to be stronger and I am looking forward to seeing how well we compete for the title with not a lot of signings and a lot of young players."