Champions League

Arsenal may improve with top four failure, says Paul Merson

Merson - Arsenal in bad way

Arsene Wenger: says Arsenal must focus on improving their domestic form

Loading Market ...

Football Betting

Up To £30 Free Matched Bet

Paul Merson says Arsenal could become a better team by finishing outside the Premier League's top four this season.

Paul Merson says Arsenal could become a better team by finishing outside the Premier League's top four this season.

The former Gunners midfielder believes the club must allow Arsene Wenger to invest heavily in the side this summer if they are to challenge for future honours.

Merson spoke out after Arsenal, who sit 10th in the Premier League, suffered a 2-1 defeat at Olympiakos which means they finish second in Group B of the Champions League.

"I think the best thing ever that could happen to Arsenal is that they don't finish in the top four this year; they fall back - they've got to take two steps back to get one step forward - and then they'll start buying a better quality of player," he told Sky Sports News.

Wenger: I blame the officials

"If they finish fourth this year - there's some good teams in this league, like Tottenham, Everton and Arsenal, Chelsea, Man Utd and Man City [so it will be tough].

"But if Arsenal didn't get in this year and they started spending some money instead of making money, I think they would be a mega-force again, a mega force."

Poor

Fellow Sky Sports pundit Charlie Nicholas watched Arsenal, who had already qualified for the knockout stage, let slip a 38th minute lead at Olympiakos and go on to suffer their second straight defeat after Saturday's 2-0 loss to Swansea.

The Gunners have won just four of their last 13 matches and Tuesday's defeat means they could be drawn against Barcelona or Paris St Germain in the last 16.

With the exception of goal-scorer Tomas Rosicky, Nicholas was highly critical of Arsenal's finishing and wants to see big changes in the January transfer window.

"It's the same old Arsenal," he said. "Rosicky was by far their best player - he had a change of pace which Arsenal are kind of lacking at the moment.

"I felt a little bit for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. He didn't really get into the game; I'd like to see him given a bit more of a licence to go and play.

"Aaron Ramsey, for me, has never recovered from the bad injury he had. He's got lots of ability but he's a poor finisher.

Mistakes

"I don't know who works on Arsenal's finishing. I've often been critical of who works on their goalkeeping and defensive structure, but now Stevie Bould's there I'd think they'd be working on that daily.

"But I look at Gervinho, I look at Andre Arshavin when he came on and I look at Ramsey - finishing is not something they are good at.

"A lot of these players now are against the ropes. It's time to move them on."

Charlie Nicholas

"You eventually have to work at those things to make it better and once Rosicky went off, it was more or less like the old Arsenal with defensive mistakes.

"S├ębastien Squillaci, I'm sorry, has to go; it's time for them to say, come January 'your time's up; feel free to move on'. If that means bringing in a couple of younger players when someone's injured, then so be it. Johan Djourou has been there for eight, nine years and all of a sudden Squillaci's back in the team.

"Marouane Chamakh's done also; a lot of these players now are against the ropes. It's time to move them on."