Arsenal are ‘in real trouble’ of drifting away from top four contention this season and for seasons to come, according to former academy player Steve Sidwell.The ex-Premier League midfielder believes the Gunners’ impressive unbeaten run merely ‘papered over the cracks’ in their performances, saying they have not performed consistently well all campaign.Sidwell joined talkSPORT to share his thoughts on Arsenal following Thursday’s shock Europa League defeat to Belarusian minnows BATE Borisov. huge blow The result is a blow to the Gunners’ quest to qualify for the Champions League, with many fans pinning their hopes of Unai Emery’s previous record in the competition to claim their spot in next season’s tournament, as they battle Chelsea and Manchester United for fourth place in the Premier League.MORE: The shocking stats that show how bad Arsenal’s defeat to BATE Borisov actually wasIt also represents the latest example of the wheels coming off their impressive start to the campaign, which saw them go 22 games unbeaten between August and December.Since that run was ended by Southampton – losing 3-2 at St Mary’s – Arsenal have suffered defeats to Tottenham, Liverpool, West Ham, Man United and Man City and have slipped down the table as a result – now sitting fifth.And Sidwell, who came through the Arsenal academy and won two FA Youth Cups before going on to have an excellent career with the likes Fulham and Chelsea, said it was ‘only a matter of time’ before the results stopped and the team’s shortcomings were revealed.“I’ve watched Arsenal a lot this year and I think that run papered over a lot of cracks in their performances,” he said on Friday’s Alan Brazil Sports Breakfast.“It hasn’t been great, there were plenty of games where they could have lost. They rode their luck on a few games, they weren’t blowing things away at all. 2 Boxing Day fixtures: All nine Premier League games live on talkSPORT REVEALED Which teams do the best on Boxing Day in the Premier League era? REVEALED Premier League Team of the Season so far, including Liverpool and Leicester stars Arsenal were frustrated in Belarus LATEST PREMIER LEAGUE NEWS no dice Where Ancelotti ranks with every Premier League boss for trophies won tense Son ban confirmed as Tottenham fail with appeal to overturn red card gameday cracker shining 2 deals Oxlade-Chamberlain suffers another setback as Klopp confirms serious injury Steve Sidwell believes the club have not delivered on their promise to challenge at the top of world football “I was at Arsenal when the club left Highbury to go the Emirates to start competing at the top of world football, but it’s not really materialised,” he added.“The Aaron Ramsey situation is just frightening. They’ve backed themselves into a corner with the wages they’re paying Ozil – and even that saga was a strange one – and they’ve got to let him [Ramsey] go now.“They’re slowly becoming a selling club where their best players are leaving, and if they don’t buck their ideas up they are really going to fall short of top-four football.”Listen back to Steve Sidwell on the Alan Brazil Sports Breakfast IN FULL above Green reveals how he confronted Sarri after Chelsea’s 6-0 defeat at Man City Man United transfer news live: Haaland ‘wants a change’, two players off in January “It was only going to be a matter of time before that came to a halt, and they’re on a bad run of form at the moment.“It was always going to be a tough transition, but they’re doing better than I thought they would, I thought they were going to be around the mid-table mark, I really did.“And then you’ve got the politics going on upstairs with transfers, the ownership, directors and sporting an all that now – there is not an alignment from top to bottom and it really needs to be restructured or they could be in real trouble.”Sidwell also reflected on Aaron Ramsey’s looming exit to Juventus in the summer, and believes it indicates Arsenal are becoming a ‘selling club’ and have fallen way short of their expectations when they moved to the Emirates Stadium in 2006.