There is no escaping the fact that Arsenal are in a Premier League relegation battle, says Nigel Winterburn, with the situation considered to have become “very, very worrying”.
Mikel Arteta’s side have become stuck in a serious rut this season, with the Gunners making their worst start to a campaign since 1974-75.
Dreams of European qualification are already starting to fade, with the north London heavyweights currently more concerned with events at the opposite end of the table.
Just four points separate Arsenal from the drop zone after 14 games, with Winterburn admitting that no team is too good to go down and that improvement is imperative at Emirates Stadium.
The former Gunners defender told The Sun of a team that has also crashed out of the Carabao Cup at the quarter-final stage: “When I left Arsenal and went to West Ham in my last season we had a fantastic team, but we got relegated.
“We couldn’t win a game of football. You go out with all good intentions, you might play well to start with, and you can’t score and boost that confidence.
“All of a sudden you get an individual error or you get a player sent off and your backs are against the wall, and you go on to not win the game.
“That’s exactly what happened at West Ham for a long period of time. I see similar things happening at Arsenal.
“They have got to get two back-to-back victories, very, very quickly. It’s no good saying ‘We’re only 14 games in, there’s time’.
“You can see the confidence is ebbing away from this team.
"They’re tentative, it’s almost as if they’re waiting for something to happen to react to, something against them rather than dictate the play.
“It’s very, very worrying because they’re not scoring many goals. If [Pierre-Emerick] Aubameyang doesn’t score, I don’t know who is.”
Winterburn added: “You can’t hide away from the fact we’re looking at the teams below us, rather than focusing on the teams above.
“It’s been such a strange season already in terms of results and up to a couple of weeks ago we were sitting in a similar position.
“I was thinking if we get a couple of wins in the next couple of games, we’d be sitting eighth or ninth in the league, a few points behind the top four teams.
“Then all of a sudden you lose those games and now you’re thinking the points difference is starting to get quite large to the European places.
“Then you look below you and see you’re only four points and a couple of teams above the relegation places, and it starts to make you feel really nervous.
“This team has got to get two back-to-back victories quickly and with that you get confidence. You get belief and you can try and get the season up and running.
“I’ve got to say, at the moment, it’s desperate. I’ve worked on most of the games this season, and it's quite a hard watch.
“I’m willing the team to be brave and go out and get on the front foot, even if it’s just a lucky goal when they’re on top in games. It’s not happening for them. You can’t hide from the fact it’s poor.”
Arsenal, who have gone seven games without a Premier League win stretching back to November 1, will return to top-flight action on Boxing Day when they play host to London rivals Chelsea.
Nigel Winterburn was speaking following the launch of free-to-play fantasy football jackpot game Fantasy5.