'The end of an era': Champions League football is out of Arsenal's reach, admits ex-Gunner Martin Keown

After a disappointing run of results this calendar year, Arsenal now find themselves seven points off Manchester City in fourth

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The Independent Football

Former Arsenal defender Martin Keown has said that the prospect of Champions League football is now out of reach for his old side and, as a result, believes the north London club is coming to “the end of an era”.

Manager Arsene Wenger has guided the Gunners to a top-four finish every season since taking over at the club in 1996. 

But after a disappointing run of results this calendar year, Arsenal now find themselves seven points off Manchester City in fourth and two behind United in fifth.

Keown praised the Gunners for their refusal to roll over in Sunday’s 2-2 draw with City, in which the side fought back on two separate occasions to salvage a point, but argued that he cannot see the club finishing in the top four this season.

"It was a good game but are we at the end of an era now? It goes back again to the debate about the manager trying to secure his future," said Keown.

"I think the players demonstrated they are certainly behind him, there is maybe just that lack of quality.

"I did feel tactically in the match that it was a concern in the midfield areas with [Francis] Coquelin and [Granit] Xhaka not knowing when to press.

Wenger will not use his uncertain future as an excuse for Arsenal's worst run of form in over 20 years

"What's [Mesut] Ozil doing when Arsenal are out of position?

"But essentially I think Ozil and [Alexis] Sanchez gave everything for their team today and they will be pleased in a way.

"It's a result for Arsenal that you might not have thought was going to be there two or three weeks ago, it's a reaction.


Shkodran Mustafi heads home the equaliser for Arsenal (Getty)

"It's something for Arsenal to build on, but if you're asking me will they make the Champions League, I think it's outside their grasp this year."

Arsenal have a game in hand on City but are still to play the likes of Tottenham and United in the run-in to the end of the season.

Attention continues to remain fixed on Wenger’s future at the club though it’s understood that the Frenchman will extend his current contract at the Emirates.

Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis told a supporters’ meeting on Sunday afternoon that any decision will be “mutual", while stating that the manager must become a “catalyst for change” for the club if he does stay.