Robin van Persie reckons old club Arsenal are a “bit better” than Chelsea for their upcoming Europa League final clash.
Despite a third successive failed attempt at a Premier League top-four finish, Arsenal can secure a return to Champions League next season by winning the Europa League.
The Gunners will meet Chelsea, who finished third in the league, at Baku next Wednesday for the final.
And Van Persie believes Arsenal have the edge over their London rivals.
“Personally, I think Arsenal have the edge,” he told BBC.
“They’re a little bit better. But Chelsea have Eden Hazard and he is a very special player – at any time he can come up with something.”
Van Persie scored an impressive 132 goals in 278 appearances for Arsenal from 2004 to 2012, He had won the FA Cup and Community Shield during his stay in north London.
Since the Dutchman’s departure, Arsenal have fared no better and turned to Unai Emery last summer to replace the legendary Arsene Wenger as manager.
The Spaniard has since overseen a respectable debut campaign in England on the back of winning 35 of his 57 matches in charge. Although he’s also lost 14 times and was unable to help Arsenal end their two-season absence from the Premier League top-four.
Despite the fact it’s now been 15 years since Arsenal’s “invincibles” won the league title, however, Van Persie is confident the club can challenge once again in the future.
“Of course they can, yes, because they’re close already, they’ve been close for so many years,” said the retired 35-year-old.
“It goes in periods. Now you have Manchester City, who are doing unbelievable. To win back-to-back titles is very special – that shows, really, that you’re a proper team.
“But it goes in phases. Maybe [City manager] Pep Guardiola will leave next year and that does something to a club.
“Maybe Liverpool will take over and they will dominate for the next few years. But I hope and wish Arsenal all the best to win the title. I know how difficult it is.”
Van Persie also gave his thoughts on his other old club Manchester United’s struggles under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.