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Pires makes bold predictions in Arsenal’s top four, claims to see bright future under Arteta

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Man who once tasted Premier League title glory with the Gunners believes Champions League qualification can be assured in 2020-2021

Robert Pires has boldly said Arsenal can secure a top-four spot this season, with the Gunners saying the future looks bright again at Emirates Stadium under Mikel Arteta.

Questions were asked in 2020-2021 as to whether a North London heavyweight has the right man at the helm.

Arsenal had their worst start to the season since 1974-75, putting inevitable pressure on the shoulders of an inexperienced coach.

Arteta, however, managed to overcome those difficulties to start cleaning up the team’s deadwood and collecting 16 Premier League points out of the last 18 on offer.

A home date with Manchester United is next on the agenda, with the Gunners entering that contest sitting seven points behind Champions League places.

Pires, who was once part of the legendary ‘Invincibles’ squad at Highbury, believes Arteta may offer a return to elite European competition for a team that seemed a long way from that goal at one point.

The Frenchman said The sun: “Mikel is young and needs time to implement his ideas but I believe that once he builds his squad Arsenal will be competitive and ready to face the big English clubs.

“It’s tough, but I wouldn’t even rule out that they end up in the top four and qualify for the Champions League this year, because things change quickly in the league.

“If I see Liverpool having difficult times, I tell myself that there is an opportunity for Arsenal to seize [points]. They only need to go back to winning ways and then maintain consistency. So anything can happen.

“It is imperative that the supporters remain patient as Arsenal are in transition, but the club’s future under Arteta looks bright.

As well as finding stability off the pitch, Pires is also looking for Arsenal to move forward – with academy graduates at the heart of those plans.

Bukayo Saka has been linked with a contract until 2024 after breaking onto a senior scene, with the Gunners now being asked to negotiate similar terms with Emile Smith Rowe.

World Cup winner Pires added: “I want to see Arsenal win the league because it was always the club’s priority.

“Now it’s little by little. The club must have an appropriate structure in place, a mix of young and experienced players.

“Experienced players are important to maintain balance in the team and help young people realize their potential.

“I like the youthful exuberance and the freshness of the academy players who arrive. The number of feathery local players in the first team is really positive.

“Smith Rowe and Saka can have a big impact and the club must offer them long-term contracts at all costs.

“Emile and Bukayo went through the youth academy, showed that they had the quality to defend themselves and they love Arsenal.

“Their love for the jersey is important and the board must do everything in their power to keep them.

“They are the future of Arsenal but there will be difficulties. This is why the addition of experienced players is of utmost importance. ”

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