Champions League out of reach and sixth place is ‘best Arsenal can get’ for former midfielder Ray Parlour

The Gunners were seven without a win before recent back-to-back victories

Karl Matchett
Thursday 31 December 2020 12:38
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Arsenal enjoy shoot-out pre-season win over Chelsea

Arsenal’s poor start to the Premier League season means a push for Champions League spots is already out of reach, according to former midfielder Ray Parlour.

The Gunners won three of their opening four league games in 2020/21, but then just two of the next 12 - one of those against bottom club Sheffield United. Scoring and creating big chances had been a real issue for Mikel Arteta’s side, but they returned to winning ways with a 3-1 victory and much-improved performance over Chelsea, before following that up with a narrow win over Brighton on Tuesday night.

Despite clawing back some ground and moving into 13th place in the table, Parlour says there are many sides who are better than the Gunners and a top-six finish is the limit of their ambitions for this term - two spots higher than they finished last season.

READ MORE: Premier League fixtures and table - all matches by date and kick-off time

"They won’t get in the top four, they’re too far behind and they’ve given themselves too much of a hill to climb," Parlour said on talkSPORT.

"I know the other teams above them are slipping up as well but I just can’t see it. There’s four better teams than Arsenal at the moment. For me, sixth place is probably the best they can get."

Despite that assertion, Parlour does feel that the close-knit nature of the league table at the turn of the year shows that a consistent run of results can improve fortunes for clubs in dramatic fashion.

First-place Liverpool and ninth-place Southampton are separated by just seven points, while Tottenham - currently seventh - were top of the pile when they went to Anfield only two weeks ago. And with a favourable run of games coming up, Arsenal could similarly climb into contention if they can string together wins, says Parlour.

"You could argue Liverpool, Manchester City, Spurs are going okay, Chelsea will come good again when they’ve got their players back, Leicester, Manchester United... so it’s going to be difficult.

"[But] the next four games – I’m going to take the FA Cup game out of that – are all winnable. West Brom away, Palace at home, Newcastle at home… so I’m sure Arteta will look at it and say, 'We’ve hit the ground running now and hopefully we can carry this on for the next three games'. And suddenly you can be in sixth place, this is how bad the league is!"

Arsenal are nine points outside the top four and six off the sides fifth to ninth, but have played a game or two more than most of those teams above them.

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