Arsenal legend Paul Merson believes the Gunners are unlikely to break back into the Premier League top four this season.

Though he is backing Mikel Arteta to continue taking the club in the right direction following the improvements at the back end of last term.

Arsenal finished eighth in the Prem before going on to win the FA Cup with Arteta having only been in charge since December.

The Gunners then beat Premier League winners Liverpool in the Community Shield at the end of last month, showing more signs of progression.

And Merson is hopeful that the rise can continue, though believes ousting the likes of Liverpool, Manchester City and Chelsea for a place in the top four is unlikely.

Mikel Arteta led Arsenal to an eighth-placed Premier League finish last season
Mikel Arteta led Arsenal to an eighth-placed Premier League finish last season

“I’ve liked what I’ve seen from Arteta, you can see what he’s trying to achieve and what direction Arsenal are heading in,” Merson told Sky Sports.

“There is a plan, players are being sent out on the pitch with clear instruction and they know what they are doing.

“You don’t beat Liverpool, Manchester City and Chelsea by luck. Towards the end of last season they had a game plan and executed it well, the challenge for Arsenal now is to stick to that game plan every week, something they have not been great at in recent seasons.

Arteta replaced Unai Emery in December
Arteta replaced Unai Emery in December

“Their consistency levels have not been anywhere near where they should be and that’s why they are more of a cup team. On their day they can beat anyone but can also lose to anyone.

“The gap to the top four, at first glance, looks too big for them to close that quickly. That said, if they can get off to flying start, you never know where it could take them.

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“Injuries are going to play a huge part this season, I cannot emphasise that enough.

“If Liverpool and Manchester City lose a couple of players for eight weeks to injury all of a sudden, the title favourites may be under pressure.

“This season is going to be an intriguing one and it will come down to who can keep their players keep and stay consistent.”