‘Arsenal should be challenging for top two’ – Arteta has ‘a massive mountain to climb’, says Dixon

The former Gunners defender sees signs of encouragement from a new coaching regime but admits there is much to do in order for ambition to be met

Arsenal should be “challenging for one and two” in the Premier League, says Lee Dixon, with Mikel Arteta considered to have “a massive mountain to climb” in north London.

The managerial baton at Emirates Stadium has been passed to a familiar face, with a former captain returning to the club in a first managerial role of his career.

Arteta will have been aware of what he was getting himself into, with Arsenal having found themselves stuck in reverse for some time now.

He has been charged with the task of re-establishing forward momentum, with there considered to have been early signs of encouragement in his short time at the helm.

There is, however, still a long way to go, with a side that enjoyed three title triumphs under the guidance of Arsene Wenger currently struggling to put themselves in contention for a top-four finish.

Gunners legend Dixon told talkSPORT of the challenge facing Arteta: “He’s not going to go in and get in the top four in the first six months – that is not going to happen.

“It is a long-term project; there is no doubt about that.

“But, ultimately, any coach that comes in, they will all tell you it’s all about players; the game has always been about players and it will always be about players, because they are the ones who put the plans into action.

“So is the squad good enough? You would look at it after last night and say ‘yes’.

“But moving forward… forget top four and top six, this team – my Arsenal Football Club – has to be challenging for one and two; be second pushing for first. That is the level they need to get back to, but it is a massive mountain to climb from where we are right now.”

Dixon added on the impact made by Arteta, who collected a first win in three games when seeing off Manchester United 2-0 on New Year’s Day: “I don’t want to go overboard on his progress three games in, but there are definitely signs.

“The Emirates hasn’t been like that in many years – it almost sent goosebumps down my spine.”

Arsenal will remain on home soil for an FA Cup third round clash with Leeds on Monday, before returning to Premier League action in a derby date at Crystal Palace on January 11.

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