Paul Merson expects Mikel Arteta to have started making plans for next season already, as Arsenal struggle to end this season in a European place.
The Gunners are now out of the Carabao Cup and FA Cup. They remain in the Europa League, but a top-four finish in the Premier League is slipping away from them every matchday.
With less than 20 games to go in all competitions before the end of this season, Arsenal could finish this campaign with nothing.
That doesn’t bother Merson who admits that the Gunners are now in transition.
He expects Arteta to have made his plans for the coming campaign, and to begin some experiments with the remaining games of the season.
One thing Merson expects him to do from now on is to start fielding Emile Smith Rowe more often.
The midfielder has emerged as a key cog in the wheel at the Emirates, and Merson thinks he should play the remaining games of the campaign to prepare him for an important role in the team next season.
“I don’t like the word but Arsenal are in transition,” Merson said on Sky Sports.
“I don’t like it because if it doesn’t go well, then what? I thought when Mikel Arteta first came in, he did well to get the people he didn’t want out of the club. People who were on big wages and who weren’t playing, but now he has got to be planning for next season.
“He shouldn’t be worrying if Arsenal finish 14th. He should be looking to get as many games out of Emile Smith Rowe to decide if he’s going to be playing next season.
“Nicolas Pepe is right to be getting the games now as he looks a better player than when he arrived. It’s about seeing who’s going to be right for next season.”