The former Gunner believes Mikel Artetas young side have the potential to return the club to English footballs top table

Former Arsenal star Ray Parlour believes the club’s current crop of young talent can see the club become a real Premier League force once again – and that a top-four finish is not yet out of reach this season.

The ex Gunners midfielder was part of Arsene Wenger’s legendary Invincibles side that cruised to the Premier League title unbeaten in 2004.

The club has gone through a number of transitional phases since then but Parlour believes coach Mikel Arteta’s young, vibrant squad can lead the club back to English football’s top table.

“Its a good young team. If they develop like they have been then they’ve got an excellent opportunity of getting back into the top four,” said Parlour, who was hosting guests of the club’s official betting partner Sportsbet.io at Arsenal’s 2-1 victory over Brentford last month.

“There are some big games still to come: Chelsea away, Tottenham away, Manchester United, all the teams that are going to be around that sort of area. Arsenal have got themselves in a good position.”

The Gunners have the youngest average of any squad in the Premier League this season, including a number of stars who have risen through the club’s youth ranks.

“The Academy has always been important,” said Parlour. “Seeing players come through like Emile Smith Rowe, Bukayo Saka, and also Martin Odegaard, they’re all very, very young. Aaron Ramsdale’s very young, too.

“Then there’s Ben White. If you look at the average age at the back, it’s 24, 25. So, if they can keep improving and keep listening to the coach and doing what he says, then hopefully they will have a very successful time.”

Boss Mikel Areta has proved himself the coach for nurturing young talent, but Parlour believes the older members of the squad have a big role to play too.

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“You’ve got to have that little bit of experience as well,” he said. “I’m sure they’ll be looking up to captain Alexandre Lacazette and Granit Xhaka, saying this is how you conduct yourself.

“You’ve got to have your own mind as well, but you always listen to people older than you. I did when I was playing.

“People like Tony Adams and people like that helped my career. So I’m sure the young players will be looking at Lacazette and people a little bit older to see what their experience has been as well.”

Parlour believes the final piece of the puzzle is a top class striker, and that returning to the top four could be vital to securing the right man to lead the line.

“The transfer window is going to be very important in the summer, strikers-wise. But, if you can get fourth place, you can attract bigger players and champions league football next season. So, that’s going to be important.”

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As well as looking forward to the new, Parlour took a moment to look back. Asked what he would do with the current price of a bitcoin, the former England international said he’d honour former manager Arsene Wenger.

“A statue of Arsene Wenger outside of the stadium. He developed this club so well,” said Parlour.

“We’re sitting here at the Emirates today and this is all down to Arsene. The new training ground is all down to Arsene.

“I’m amazed that there’s not a statue put up already. So my £30,000 would go towards a statue of Arsene Wenger.”

Ray Parlour was speaking to GOAL while hosting guests of Arsenal’s official betting partner, Sportsbet.io.

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