Former Arsenal co-owner Dein says Gunners should aim for top two under Emery

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Unai Emery Arsenal 2019-20
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The Gunners have been urged not to lower their ambitions despite slipping out of title contention in recent seasons

Former Arsenal vice-chairman David Dein says the club should be targeting a top-two finish in the Premier League under Unai Emery.

The Gunners finished either or first or second for eight successive seasons under Arsene Wenger between 1998 and 2005.

They lifted the league title on three occasions during that time, including their famous ‘invincibles’ season of 2003-04.

However, they have finished second just once in 14 campaigns since, and have even finished outside the top four for the past three seasons.

Unai Emery replaced Wenger in the summer of 2018 and guided Arsenal to a fifth-placed finish and the Europa League final during his first season in charge.

Dean, who was also Arsenal vice-chairman between 1983 and 2007, says the club should be setting their targets higher.

However, has also pleaded for patience given Emery is new at club and is managing a relatively young squad.

“I think it’s a work in progress. We have to patient,” Dein told Sky Sports.

“It’s not easy today as everyone expects instant success, and you can see what has happened to other club around us.

“Everyone thinks it is so easy, you turn the tap on and you get hot water, but it’s not quite as easy as that.

“[but] I think we set a certain standard and we expect them to be up at the top challenging for first or second place."

One of the reasons why Arsenal have slipped down the table is the emergence of teams such as Chelsea and Manchester City, who have benefitted from wealthy owners willing to bankroll lavish spending sprees on new players.

Arsenal have traditionally been more cautious in the transfer market, particularly during the second half of Wenger’s time at the club when he also had to help balance the books following the building of their new £390 million ($480m) Emirates Stadium in 2006.

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When asked whether those apparent financial disparities mean Arsenal should lower their ambitions and instead aim for a top four finish, Dein added: “I’ve never subscribed to that.

“I’ve always felt Arsenal had to be challenging for at least first or second in the league every year.

“That has to be the ambition at the start of the season.”