Paul Merson delivers Arsenal assessment of top-four credentials ahead of crucial Chelsea game

Arsenal were in pole position to finish fourth but three successive defeats have left them with a lot of work to do in their final seven games.

Arsenal legend Paul Merson has claimed that his old side are still in the race for fourth spot, despite their poor form of late, but insists that they should have it sewn up by now.

The Gunners were in pole position to secure the final Champions League spot, but three successive defeats have left them three points behind Tottenham, albeit with a game in hand on them.

Mikel Arteta’s side could have moved level on points with their north London rivals after Spurs suffered a shock 1-0 defeat to Brighton on Saturday lunchtime, but they also succumbed to a defeat by the same scoreline to Southampton. With both clubs suffering losses at the weekend the race for fourth is still wide open, however, Arsenal do appear to have the more difficult run-in.

The Gunners still have to play Chelsea, Manchester United and West Ham in their final seven fixtures, and also travel to Tottenham on May 12. Meanwhile, Antonio Conte’s side have a fairly kind run-in with a trip to Liverpool the only real cause for concern.

Merson is adamant that Arsenal can overhaul their north London rivals and claim a first top four finish since the 2015/16 season, but claims they will rue the fact that they’ve not wrapped it up already.

The former Gunners star also hit out at Arsenal for surrendering their advantage by losing to the so called lesser sides in the league.

“Arsenal are still in this race, but they will do really well to finish in the top four now,” Merson wrote in his Sky Sports column.

“If they’d lost to Liverpool, Chelsea and Man City in the last few weeks you hold your hands up and you accept that they are just better teams at this time. That is a fact at the moment, and you just have to make sure you win games against the other teams.

“They’ve lost to teams they should be beating. Fourth should be done now. That will be their biggest disappointment.” Arsenal will move level on points with Spurs if they beat Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday evening.

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