Chelsea have been warned that they are “in danger of becoming another Arsenal”, with Paul Merson seeing similarities between the struggles in north and west London.
The outspoken former Gunners star has not been shy when it comes to offering an opinion on goings on at Emirates Stadium, with Arsene Wenger’s side considered to have regressed as they face the threat of missing out on Champions League football in successive seasons.
Rivals at Stamford Bridge are also in danger of missing out on a top-four finish, a year on from being crowned Premier League champions.
Merson believes the Blues could be on a slippery slope, with it possible that even a change in the dugout – amid ongoing talk of a summer exit for Antonio Conte – will not be enough to turn the tide.
The ex-England international wrote in a column for the Daily Star: “Chelsea are in danger of becoming another Arsenal and I don’t see how [Juventus boss] Max Allegri is going to stop that from happening.
“Antonio Conte is on his way out, but I can’t see the owner spending bundles of money in the summer. I can see Eden Hazard and Thibaut Courtois leaving.
“These are worrying times for Chelsea. I don’t see any way back for them. I think they’re going to be also-rans again next season. Other teams have come flying past them and will only get stronger. Tottenham and Liverpool are already ahead of them.
“Manchester United will spend big again. I don’t see City dropping out of the top four either, so Chelsea could be out of the Champions League for years to come in my opinion – just like Arsenal.
“Allegri might help. He’s a good manager. But he comes from a league which is nothing like ours and there are no guarantees he will be a big success.
“It’s not the manager you have to worry about though. It’s the owner. He doesn’t seem to want to back his team in the transfer market.
MORE: 'Sad and angry' Conte vows to turn Chelsea around next season | Chelsea are not above the Europa League, says Antonio Conte | Ampadu, Hudson-Odoi & the top 10 teenage stars to watch at Chelsea | 'Chelsea players got Mourinho sacked, now they are after Conte' - Leboeuf
“It’s a big worry because that Chelsea team isn’t good enough and whoever takes over from Conte in the summer is going to realise that pretty quick.”
Chelsea will take in a derby date with West Ham on Sunday looking to trim the gap which separates them from the top four back to nine points.