Should Arsenal qualify for the Champions League competition next season while claiming FA Cup honours then their season as a whole must be considered a success, regardless of their limp finish in the division, writes Paul Merson in his look ahead at the Premier League fixtures this weekend.
The Gunners tackle Manchester City later today, Saturday, in a reverse fixture of the 6-3 shellacking they received earlier in the season but, even though Arsene Wenger's side must surely be motivated not to repeat that result while also gunning to avoid getting dragged into a top-four dogfight with Everton, Merson cannot foresee any other result than a City victory.
Why? One simple reason: "Arsenal are shot," Merson said in his Sky Sports column.
"If they can finish fourth in the Premier League and win the FA Cup then that's a major successful season for them. I'd have to say the top four isn't looking great now because I expect Everton to make up three points on them this weekend and then Arsenal go to Goodison Park in their next game.
"If Everton win that then they will be level on points with a game in hand! I do expect Arsenal to finish fourth, but it won't be a foregone conclusion."
Worryingly for Arsenal, it was effectively target practice when they last met in the league, in December, as City returned seven shots on goal - six of them ended up in the net. Arsenal's form is also not worthy of the head of the division… it is not even top four worthy and more befitting of a mid-table team as they have won three, drawn three and lost three of their last nine.
Predicting a 3-1 win for City, Merson cannot see an Arsenal win.
"Arsenal won't go out and play 10 men behind the ball because they only know how to play one way - and that will play into City's hands.
"Manuel Pellegrini has made them look a lot more solid and Edin Dzeko and Yaya Toure are both scoring goals now. They have a big squad and if they win this game, which is a big hurdle, then I think it will take them half-way to winning the league.
"It's in their hands."