Ashley Cole believes Arsenal are heading for a fifth successive season outside of the top four unless Mikel Arteta gets to grips with the current crisis at the club.
A wretched start to the Premier League campaign has seen Arsenal drift to 15th place, losing seven of their opening 12 games including the last four at home.
They head into Wednesday’s game against Southampton trailing their visitors by 10 points, a staggering set of circumstances so early in the season that reflects both the Saints’ strong start and Arsenal’s current malaise.
The omens for Arsenal looked good when Arteta’s team, building on some positive results and lively performances, beat Chelsea in the FA Cup final at the beginning of August.
Yet the Spaniard, appointed last December, has seen his team struggle to capitalise on that success, and former Gunners defender Cole sees only one way out of trouble: a sharp and immediate upturn in performance level.
“Now they can put Europe on the back-burner and start focusing on getting some points, playing better football and improving the league position,” Cole told Stats Perform News courtesy of Nissan.
“They’re up against some top teams in the Premier League so it is going to be difficult for them, but I feel if they can get through this moment and this tough period with some good games, some good results, then you never know.
“There’s still a long way to go in this season, but when you’re in the bottom half of the table, to get into the top four now, with the quality some of these teams are playing at, then I think it’s going to be very difficult for Arsenal.”