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Are Arsenal the best option to finish fourth for the Premier League?

Mark Lawrenson isn't sure if Arsenal will finish fourth but the club is going in the right direction with Mikel Arteta.



Mark Lawrenson joined John Duggan, Dan McDonnell and Johnny Ward on Football Saturday to discuss Arsenal.

Arsenal are sixth in the Premier League table.

Mikel Arteta's side are one point behind Manchester United and West Ham, but they have two games in hand. They are three points ahead of Tottenham, but Tottenham have a game in hand on them. Arsenal are at the center of the battle for the final Champions League spot.

And just like every team around them, they are frustratingly inconsistent week-to-week.

But unlike the teams around them, Arsenal are also showing a gradual progress under Mikel Arteta. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's recent departure is a sign of the changing times at the football club. No longer are Arsenal cowering to big name players who command huge salaries and come with their own individual demands.

Instead, Arteta has carefully built a team that is developing talented young players while still competing in the top half of the table.

Arsenal have players to be envious of. Bukayo Saka is one of the best young players in Europe. Martin Odegaard is delivering on his promise from his youth. Emile Smith-Rowe, Gabriel Martinelli and Ben White are all proving to be exciting players.

Arteta is improving individual players, setting his team up to win games and developing a culture in the dressing room. Whether they get the final Champions League spot or not is unclear, but they appear best set up to actually benefit from playing in the Champions League next season.

Mark Lawrenson still has concerns about their consistency, but he largely believes Arsenal are going in the right direction.

"We know that they go on runs," Lawrenson said.

"They go on runs and win six or seven games on the spin. But then again they'll go somewhere and lose a game and you'll think 'What on earth has happened to them?' They've still got that about them. I think generally Arteta has done a good job. Getting rid of Aubameyang...that's an absolute coup to be honest with you."

Manchester United appear to have issues in their dressing room. Ralf Rangnick is asked about issues in the dressing room on a regular basis, while the constant slew of twitter apologies suggest a lack of real accountability. Manchester United need a reset in the summer that Arsenal have already undergone.

"We talk about Manchester United and their dressing room. It looks like Arsenal have got a good dressing room, they've signed one or two decent players defensively as well. We know about all the young lads that they've got. And of course when you first come in the team you play with absolutely no fear whatsoever. You don't even think about what you're doing you just do it.

"It looks like it's a really, really well run club."

Reaching the Champions League is not the return of Arsenal to the top of the sport. They need to become title contenders to do that. While they won't ever spend with Manchester City, another smart transfer window for Arteta could put them in a great position to return to the heights of the Arsene Wenger era.

"They've started to look a team. Yes they do have a chance of finishing fourth but Burnley at home? They never really looked like scoring did they? I'm a fan of Arteta, I like what he's trying to do. It may well be that he needs another transfer window. I can only see them getting better definitely."

"He's just got it spectacularly wrong" - Lawrenson on David Moyes.

 

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Read more about

Arsenal Champions League Race Mark Lawrenson Mikel Arteta Pierre Emerick Aubameyang