Former Arsenal midfielder Stewart Robson has questioned whether Mikel Arteta can take the current Arsenal squad any further.
Arteta, 39, has been in charge at the Emirates for just over two years. He was a controversial choice at the time, with more experienced managers available but overlooked by the Gunners board. The Spaniard secured the FA Cup at the end of his first season in charge.
But the north Londoners only managed an eighth-place finish last term, missing out on European football. Arteta’s job was under threat earlier this season when they lost their first three top-flight games.
However, they have now rallied to sixth. The target is a top-four berth but Robson does not see it happening.
“I think this is their ceiling at the moment,” he told ESPN FC’s Extra Time. “I think in maybe a couple of years time when the likes of [Bukayo] Saka, Emile Smith Rowe and these sort of players, [Gabriel] Martinelli who’s had a good spell in the team, and some of the younger players come through, I think Arsenal will be a good side.
“But I just think it’s hit its ceiling at the moment.”
Arsenal now have only the league to play for after losing their EFL Cup semi-final to Liverpool. And the FA Cup dream ended in round three with a 1-0 loss to Nottingham Forest.
Qualifying for the Champions League is paramount. But Robson, who made 150 league appearances for the club, does not think Arteta will achieve his aims.
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“I think they’ve gone as far as they can with Arteta this season and I think top four would be a great position for them,” he added. “I don’t think they’re going to get it.”
Winter deal could be key to top four
Arsenal have been linked with many players during the January transfer window. Much of the speculation can be taken with a pinch of salt but one target is very real.
Fiorentina striker Dusan Vlahovic has been on the radar for some time. And a report on Saturday suggests Gunners officials have set the Serbian a deadline to make a decision over joining the club.
Vlahovic is in demand and is said to prefer a club that can offer him Champions League football. If Robson is to be believed, that will not be Arsenal.
And they have reportedly given him until the middle of next week to provide an answer.