Paul Merson has boldly – or naively – predicted that the Premier League title race could be settled in favour of Arsenal as early as this weekend.
The Gunners have surpassed expectations this season after they narrowly missed out on a spot in the Champions League places last term.
Mikel Arteta’s side find themselves five points clear at the top of the Premier League after 19 games. They also have a game in hand over nearest rivals Manchester City.
Arsenal’s squad is arguably not as strong as City’s, but the Londoners acted in the transfer market last month to strengthen. Leandro Trossard, Jakub Kiwior and Jorginho were all signed before Tuesday night’s deadline.
City meanwhile are arguably weaker heading into the rest of the season as Joao Cancelo left the club to join Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich on loan.
Both teams have big games in the Premier League this weekend. Arsenal face relegation candidates Everton while Man City come up against Tottenham.
Merson has remarkably suggested that the title race may be over if Arsenal win and Man City drop points against Spurs.
‘I think Arsenal have been so cute and clever in the January market. They have undoubtedly maximised their chances of winning the Premier League title,’ Merson wrote for The Daily Star.
‘I’ve seen criticism of the Jorginho signing but I think that is a masterstroke.
‘Eighteen months ago after the European Championship final at Wembley, we were all talking about how England will never unearth a player like him.
‘He is perfect for Arsenal and he doesn’t even have to play every week. Jorginho will help the Gunners dominate the ball and control matches – all for just £12m.
‘I’m shocked Chelsea let him go for that. I know his contract is up in the summer but that’s a cup of tea to the Blues. He could have shown Enzo Fernandez the ropes but Chelsea’s loss is Arsenal’s gain.
‘I think Leandro Trossard also improves them massively. They now have real attacking quality in reserve.
‘Call me mad but the title could be done this weekend if Arsenal win at Everton and Manchester City drop points at Tottenham. I just don’t see Arsenal dropping points frequently – nor do I envisage Man City beating them twice.’
Merson must be forgetting that Man City have shown over the past couple of seasons that they are capable of winning 10+ games in a row so it is pretty daft to write them off so soon.
Arsenal are no doubt in a great position, but their young squad are unproven as this is the first title fight most of their players have been involved in.
The addition of Jorginho could prove to be an astute one in that sense, as the calmness he can offer in midfield could help Arsenal to eke out results during the run-in even when they are not at their best.
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