Arsenal “are not good enough to make the top four”, says Charlie Nicholas, with Mikel Arteta needing more from the likes of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette and Nicolas Pepe.
As things stand, the Gunners are languishing in 10th spot in the Premier League table.
A 10-point gap separates them from the top four and Champions League qualification, with ongoing struggles for consistency continuing to hold them back.
There are considered to have been signs of progress since Arteta took the reins, but results have remained mixed.
Nicholas expects that to leave the north London giants frustrated come the end of the campaign, but he is looking for fighting spirit to be shown and collective standards to be raised.
A home date with Newcastle on Sunday will present the Gunners with their next chance to establish some momentum, with former frontman Nicholas telling Sky Sports: “It has been an intriguing break for Arsenal. For the first time, Mikel Arteta can go and properly work with the players for an extended period of time.
“He is still trying to get his point across but Arsenal are more together and more understanding of what is expected of them, in terms of the commitment and togetherness.
“It is not bang on though. They are becoming a side that is hard to beat but Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang still do not have the balance right in terms of scoring goals.
“People will question about whether Aubameyang likes playing on the left. Lacazette also has no confidence at the moment, but let’s hope it is more positive after the break.
“The unity and organisation at the back is still key, while we will have fresh players once more.
“It will be a tough afternoon, but Arsenal seem to have some drive back. The negative could be waiting around for Aubameyang and Lacazette to kick back into form.
“Gabriel Martinelli has been in great form, but we need to start seeing more from Nicolas Pepe.
“The Gunners are not good enough to make the top four, but they must have a go at it.”
Arsenal have collected just one Premier League win under Arteta, but have also suffered only one defeat and breaking the draw habit remains the challenge for a side desperately seeking a spark.