Friday, October 22, 2021

‘Probably not’ – Per Mertesacker gives bleak response to Arsenal’s top-four hopes

Per Mertesacker believes that Arsenal’s squad is not strong enough to qualify for the Champions League this season and urged the Gunners board to look at the club as more of a longer term project.

The Gunners started the season with three consecutive defeats to newly-promoted Brentford, Chelsea and Manchester City but have since won back-to-back matches against Norwich and Burnley to ease the pressure on boss Mikel Arteta.

Despite the upturn in form, Arsenal still find themselves in the bottom half of the table and have a crucial north London derby against rivals Tottenham next Sunday followed by a trip to in-form Brighton the following weekend.

The club spent more than £150m on six new signings in the summer – the most money spent by any club in the Premier League. But the former Germany international, who is now Arsenal’s academy manager, believes the club’s current crop of players will struggle to challenge for a place in the top four this term.

‘Probably not [top four this season], that is what I’ve learnt. I’m looking more long-term, Edu needs to look long-term sometimes, we need to build a foundation for the next three or four years. Me in the academy, I live in ten year cycles,’ he told The Beautiful Game Podcast.

The 36-year-old also urged the Arsenal staff and fans to stay positive and get behind the team, even if results don’t go their way.

‘That’s what our whole job is as lifelong Arsenal fans to build that atmosphere. Because what happens if we go down? Do I have my job next year, what happens if we don’t reach European football? Does that have an effect on staff and numbers in the academy,’ he added.

‘I think for this season obviously we want to get back to European football. That will be important for us, the players, the club and the fans,’ the Norwegian told Sky Sports earlier this month.

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