Alan Smith: 'Arsenal need to beat title rivals next term'

Arsenal's Spanish midfielder Santi Cazorla celebrates scoring his team's first goal during the English FA Cup final match between Arsenal and Hull City at Wembly Stadium in London on May 17, 2014
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Alan Smith claims that Arsenal need to beat their Premier League title rivals if they are to realistically challenge next season.

Former Arsenal striker Alan Smith believes that his old side will be "proper challengers" for the Premier League title next season if they can overcome their close rivals.

The Gunners led the league for much of last season but eventually fell away in the final months, and Arsene Wenger's side were heavily beaten by both Liverpool and Chelsea in February and March respectively.

However, Smith has claimed that the Gunners can become serious contenders for the title if they match the sides around them.

"In order for Arsenal to challenge, and to be proper challengers, I think they've got to better against those title challengers," Smith told Sky Sports News.

"Down the years, they have a good record against Spurs, but you know at home, it is a nice early derby for the Arsenal fans and those matches don't normally disappoint."

Wenger's side begin their pre-season preparations against Boreham Wood this weekend.

Chile's forward Alexis Sanchez celebrates after scoring a goal during the Round of 16 football match between Brazil and Chile at The Mineirao Stadium on June 28, 2014
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