Merson thinks Arsenal ‘are not a shoo-in’ for top four next season as he makes Chelsea comparison
Paul Merson does not think Arsenal’s incredible campaign means they are a “shoo-in” to finish in the top four of the Premier League next season.
The Gunners are without a win in their previous four matches, allowing Manchester City to cut their lead at the top of the table down to two points.
City crucially have two games in hand as well.
The reigning champions were at their devastating best on Wednesday night as they dismantled Mikel Arteta’s side with a 4-1 victory at the Etihad.
A lot of the post-match reaction has been centered around the brilliance of City and ex-Arsenal midfielder Merson has waxed lyrical about Pep Guardiola’s men.
“We’ve got to give credit to Man City,” he said on Sky Sports’ Soccer Saturday. “When Man City play well and they play like that they are head and shoulders above everybody else. I don’t think anybody touches them.
“They were all over (Arsenal).
“They weren’t allowed to give them (City) a game. They closed down, everything they did was perfect. They were showing them down alleys. They were nicking the ball off them.
“You’ve got to give Man City credit for that. When they closed down it reminded me of when Barcelona were at their pomp and they used to do the five, six-second close-down. Get the ball back quickly.
“I’m not going to sit here and have a go at Arsenal, what they’ve done is unbelievable. But no one can match this team when they play like that, they’re on a different planet.”
Merson’s Sky colleague Clinton Morrison was in agreement and does not think City will be too worried about their fixture list despite upcoming matches against Chelsea, Brighton and Brentford.
Morrison said: “They have (got tricky fixtures), but they’re in form at the moment.
“You can see confidence is flowing through that squad and when you’re winning football matches, you don’t care about the amount of games you’ve got coming up. You just look forward to every game.
“There are a lot of tough games in there. They’ve got Champions League games coming up, but they’re on a different level at the moment.
“They were outstanding (against Arsenal). They were on the front foot. I thought he (Kevin De Bruyne) was the difference-maker the other night. He was magnificent, him and (Erling) Haaland caused Arsenal loads of problems.
“Credit must go to City, but I agree with Merse. Arsenal fans will be disappointed, but they’ve done ever so well.
“It’s not mathematically over but everyone knows it is over with the quality they’ve got in their squad, Man City”
Merson added that he does not see Arsenal as certainties to finish inside the top four next season despite sitting top of the table for the vast majority of this term.
“They’re not a shoo-in to get the top four next season,” he said.
“For how great they’ve done this season… Champions League next year.
“Chelsea won the Premier League and finished 10th. They had no Champions League, no Europe. It makes a difference.
“Arsenal never really had that this year. They’re in the Champions League next year, they’re going to need more than one centre-half.
“As soon as that centre-half (William Saliba) got injured, (Arsenal have conceded), a two, a three, a two and a four. That tells you everything.”
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