Paul Merson insisted in his Sky Sports column that Arsenal need to focus on the Europa League because of their fading Premier League form.
The Gunners lie six places and 11 points behind West Ham United in fourth.
Their aspirations of clambering back into contention for the Champions League are all but finished.
Unless they can steer themselves to Europa League glory, a competition they are still challenging for.
Arsenal enter into Thursday’s second leg clash against Benfica (5. 55pm) with the score level, but crucially have the advantage of an away goal.
Mikel Arteta is fully aware that winning this tournament is their last chance saloon at retaining European football next season.
Merson echoed this sentiment by saying all Arsenal attention must now be on beating Benfica.
“It’s probably now time to focus on the Europa League for Arsenal, but they’d do well to win that with the way things are going,” said the Gunners legend.
“There are some really good teams in that competition – some good English teams as well.”
After Benfica, Arsenal play Leicester City, Burnley, Tottenham Hotspur, West Ham, and Liverpool.
Merson’s views were even less encouraging when he predicted where they would finish domestically following this set of fixtures.
“I can’t see Arsenal doing anything between now and the end of the season to get into the top four,” Merson admitted.
“It’s a Rolls Royce of a football club but when you look where they are now, it’s just hard to watch.
“It’s a real massive rebuild job at the Emirates Stadium and I think it’s going to take a long, long time.”
This renovation has been going on ever since Arsene Wenger stepped down from his historic post.
Unai Emery was the first building block, but that crumbled away after a year and a half.
Arteta’s introduction was meant to signal a fresh new dawn in North London.
Although there have been signs of improvement under their Spanish coach, Arsenal’s title as a ‘big six’ club is beginning to lose its authority.
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