Premier League • England

Pundit reveals how many signings Arsenal are away from being Premier League title challenger

Arsenal chief Edu with a smiling Mikel Arteta

Glen Johnson believes Arsenal are making great progress under Mikel Arteta but feels they are at least five signings away from being Premier League title challengers.

The Gunners currently sit fourth in the table after an impressive run of five successive wins, but they face title-chasing Liverpool in a huge clash at The Emirates on Wednesday evening.

Arteta was roundly criticised for his decision to allow Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang leave in January. However, Arsenal have not looked back since – although Johnson admits a new forward will be a must in the summer transfer window.

“There’s absolutely no chance that anyone would’ve backed Arsenal for a top four spot even two months ago, let alone the start of the season,” Johnson told Ladbrokes.

“They had such a bad start, but Mikel Arteta deserves a lot of credit. What he’s done very well is get rid of the bad apples in that team.

“Some eyebrows were raised when certain players went out the door. But he knows that squad much better than we do, and now look what the team are doing. They’re clearly in a much better place both on and off the pitch without some of those players.

“The team he’s got at the moment isn’t good enough to compete for the title. Yes, they’re on a good run right now. But once you make the top four and you’re in the Champions League you’ve then got to think about the next step.

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“And if they want to close that gap on the top two or three in the league, they still need to improve and bring in reinforcements.

“They certainly need a new striker in the next transfer window, and then a couple of midfielders and centre-halves.

“Listen, they’ve got some decent players. But they’re not good enough to be competing with the best in the division consistently.”

Arsenal to run Liverpool close

Johnson also predicts Arsenal will provide a tough test for Liverpool on Wednesday evening.

He added: “Right now, you’ve got to say this is a slippery fixture for Liverpool. If this game was being played a couple of months ago, you’d put it down as an easy win. But I don’t think that’s the case now.

“Arsenal have found some form, they’re playing really well and they’re winning games. They’re dogging out results now, and they didn’t have that backbone a couple of months ago.

“They’ve got themselves into fourth spot quietly, and I think it’s going to be a really tough game for Liverpool. If I had to stick my neck out, I’d say Liverpool edge it 2-1.”

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