Former Manchester United and Arsenal defender Mikael Silvestre thinks that the Gunners can make top four this season.
After a miserable August ended with Mikel Arteta’s team bottom of the Premier League, the north London outfit have turned things around and are now sixth ahead of this weekend’s fixtures.
Now, Silvestre thinks they can challenge for a Champions League spot.
“Arsenal had a difficult start playing some top teams and they also lost to Brentford. So clearly they were not ready to perform,” Silvestre told MyBettingSites.
“I’m not saying the preparation wasn’t good, but clearly there were suspensions, COVID and the team wasn’t ready to beat any type of team in the league.
“Now, it’s a different Arsenal with more certainty in what they’re trying to do, offensively, defensively, players individually, they’re much more on par.
“Some players like [Thomas] Partey, [Emile] Smith Rowe, [Bukayo] Saka are a big part of the jigsaw, so it’s good for Mikel [Arteta] that he’s been given time.
“The places are super expensive in that top four now. They should be close enough, just thereabouts. They should finish better than where they finished last season if they can keep everybody fit.”
The Frenchman, who spent two seasons at the Gunners after nine successful years with Manchester United, continued by saying why he believes Arsenal made the right decision to stick with Mikel Arteta after many fans called for the board to sack him.
“Every time you change a manager, the manager will want his own players, so you have to wait two or three transfer windows to have his squad the way he wants it,” he added.
“Then it’s a change of a training regime and sometimes the style of football. So it’s better to stick with the managers and try to improve and ask the right questions to the players, try to stimulate within rather than completely shuffle things with a new manager and new backroom staff.”
Now that Arteta has seemingly galvanised a youthful squad, the Gunners could well challenge for European football, and Silvestre isn’t the only one who thinks they have every chance of sneaking into the top four places for the first time since the 2015/2016 season.
Paul Merson, when writing on Sky Sports in September, thinks Arsenal are able to challenge for that position, but only if their star players stay fit and available.
Merson said: “If Arsenal keep those players fit and they play every week, they would have a chance of getting in the top four and cause problems.
“They have no Europe this season, so will have time to recover and work on the team.”
Arsenal fans will be hoping Silvestre and Merson’s predictions come true.
Arteta will be focused on the short-term at the moment however, as the Gunners will be looking to take all three points against Watford at the Emirates on Sunday.