Ex-striker Alan Smith explains why Arsenal aren't title challengers

Former Arsenal striker Alan Smith sees Arsene Wenger's men finishing in the top four but failing to challenge for the Premier League title.

Will another top-four finish be considered a success for Arsenal?

At this stage of the season, you have to believe so.

It was only 12 months ago that the Gunners were dreaming of pushing for another Premier league crown, and they spent again over the summer in an effort to continue down that track.

The going has been tough this time around, though, with Arsene Wenger seeing his side stumble their way towards Christmas.

They sit sixth at present, two points outside the Champions League places and 13 adrift of table-topping Chelsea.

Even after the Blues’ first wobble of the campaign at Newcastle United that is too big a gap to bridge – especially when taking Manchester City and United into account.

Returning to European football’s premier club competition in 2015/16 has become the sole target, then.

Alan Smith, who spent eight years with the Gunners during his playing days, sees things that way, with it his belief that there are still issues to be addressed in north London.

He said in the Daily Star Sunday: "I can see them having a good run - they have done it in years gone by.

"But I can't see them getting the kind of results that give them that proper belief that they are title challengers.

"I think they are better going forward now but I don't see them as a title-challenging team."

Smith considers Arsenal to be a side suffering the same old problems.

Wenger has consistently pieced together sides that are pleasing on the eye and free-flowing when in attack, but struggles have often been endured going the other way.

That would appear to still be the case at Emirates Stadium, with calls for investment to be made in defensive reinforcements growing in intensity as the January transfer window draws ever closer.

Register for ARSENAL team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch