If Arsenal don't get in the top four, I don't think they will get back in it says ex-Gunner

Ahead of last night's game with West Ham, Paul Merson issued a warning to Arsenal.

Never one to hold back with his opinion, Arsenal legend Paul Merson gave his opinion on the challenge facing the club.

Ahead of last night's match with West Ham, Merson warned that the Gunners desperately needed to qualify for Champions League football next season.

What had been seen as a certainty as they pushed for a title challenge has become anything but, with Everton hauling themselves back into the race for the top four, as the Gunners slip back.

Merson believes the competition in the Premier League is so intense that missing out could mean their success in future seasons is hampered. 

"If they don't get in the Champions League (this year) I don't know when they'll get back in again if I'm being honest.

"Six weeks ago you'd not think in your wildest dreams Arsenal would have to chase Everton down.

"It would be a disaster, because you aren't expecting Manchester United to be out (of the top four) for long."

Failure to qualify for the Champions League would mean not only a lack of cash which the competition brings, as others are strengthened, but the challenge of persuading top class players to join in the summer would grow.

And then there would be the nightmare prospect of the Europa League to negotiate next season. 

Merson remained positive however, adding that the Gunners have the easiest run in, with Everton having to face both Manchester sides: 

"For me if someone had to pick me the fixtures I'd take Arsenal's all day."

He went onto comment that sealing a top four place with an FA Cup win would be seen as a huge success for the club:

"If they get fourth and win the FA Cup its a great season, unbelievable. The Henry, Bergkamp days, they are long gone."

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