Arsenal legend Paul Merson (Photo: Sky Sports)
Paul Merson believes that there are plenty of positives for Arsenal under Mikel Arteta, but he does not believe they have enough to finish in the top four this season.
The north London side made a positive start to the new campaign on Saturday when they sealed a 3-0 win away to Fulham thanks to goals from Alexandre Lacazette, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and new signing Gabriel Magalhaes.
Arteta has been tasked with steering Arsenal back towards the Champions League qualification spots after the north London side finished in eighth place in the Premier League table last season.
The Spanish head coach guided the Gunners to the first trophy of his reign last month when Arsenal beat Chelsea FC 2-1 in the FA Cup final.
The north London side then followed that win up with a victory over Liverpool FC on penalties in the Community Shield at Wembley at the end of August.
Attentions will now be firmly fixed on whether Arteta will be able to guide the Gunners towards a top-four finish in the Premier League as they aim to break back into Europe’s elite club competition.
However, former Gunners midfielder Merson is not expecting to see Arsenal finish in the top four this season.
Writing in his column for Sky Sports, Merson said: “In terms of Arsenal’s win at Fulham, these are the dangerous games; you don’t want to play promoted teams when they come up.
“You want to play them in January when it’s hit home how hard it is, and they have a couple injuries.
“I thought it was a great result for Arsenal. Gabriel makes his debut, is solid, and scores a goal. It was a good performance.
“I like Arteta, you can see what he’s trying to do, playing a certain way, as a team and with a high tempo.
“I like what they’re doing, but top four? I just think the gulf is too big.
“There’s three or four leagues within the Premier League. I think the top four is the top four in their own league, then you’ve got your Arsenal, Tottenham and maybe even Everton now with Leicester.
“Then you’ve probably got another little league in mid-table before you get to the lower ends. It’s quite interesting, and that’s why it’s the best league in the world.
“Whoever is the fittest, and whoever hits the ground running, has an unbelievable chance.”
Arsenal will return to Premier League action on Saturday night when they host West Ham United in their next top flight game at The Emirates.
Source: Sport Review