Former Arsenal and England midfielder Merson has given his thoughts ahead of a big week in the battle for a top-four spot in the Premier League
Another week, another potentially pivotal moment for some of the Premier League’s under-pressure teams.
Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur both have points to prove after suffering defeats of differing magnitudes last Sunday, while Leicester City and Arsenal face off in a clash of two of the league’s more resurgent sides.
Former England man Paul Merson has described United’s trip to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium as a “must-win” game, after a winless run has seen them drop out of the top four, and manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will surely see it as such.
Merson has been giving his predictions for the weekend’s action, with his old club Arsenal kicking off the action on Saturday lunchtime with a trip to the King Power to face Leicester.
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“Arsenal seem to have learnt a thing or two about earning results in difficult games,” Merson told Sportskeeda ahead of Saturday’s game.
He described the win over Aston Villa as the best performance he has seen from Mikel Arteta’s side this season, but only expects them to draw with a Leicester side who go into the game unbeaten in their last four league games.
“Leicester City were very fortunate to win against Brentford last weekend. Brendan Rodgers has built a good team, however, and their performance against Manchester United is a testament to their ability.”
Merson has predicted. a 1-1 scoreline, which would see the two teams remain level on points.
There’s another big game involving Arsenal’s north London rivals, and Merson is tipping visitors Manchester United to leave Spurs’ ground with all three points.
“Manchester United have a way of finding results in games like these,” he said.
“But if they do lose to Spurs and keep [Ole Gunnar] Solskjaer in this job, they aren’t going anywhere, are they? They can’t keep drifting along like this – it’s already November!
“This is a must-win game for Manchester United. They just seem to find results in difficult situations, and I think that’s what will happen here. Manchester United are going to win this game, and it’ll paper over the cracks yet again.
“They did manage a victory against Atalanta in the Champions League, and I think they’ll pull off something similar this weekend.”
Merson has backed United to claim a 2-1 win, but anything less than victory is likely to increase the pressure on Solskjaer.
When it comes to the current top four, Merson expects the quartet to stay where they are after all picking up maximum points.
He anticipates Chelsea having the easiest ride as they travel to St James’ Park, predicting a 3-0 Blues win on the grounds that ” Newcastle United are an absolute disaster at the moment, and I don’t see anything but a Chelsea win here.”
He expects the Premier League’s only surviving unbeaten run to remain, backing a 3-1 Liverpool win while saying “Jurgen Klopp is spoilt for choice with his front three this season, and his forward line always seems outstanding irrespective of his team selection”.
He expects City’s “class all over the pitch” to see them to a 3-1 win over Crystal Palace, while backing West Ham to get the better of another of his former clubs at Villa Park.
“[David Moyes’ side are] moving along nicely in the top four after 10 games, and I’m going to go with a West Ham victory this weekend,” he said.
Elsewhere, the 53-year-old has predicted maiden wins for both Burnley and Norwich City – results which would leave Newcastle bottom of the table if his tips come in.
“They aren’t a million miles away from a result, and I think they could pick up their first league victory of the season here,” he said of Norwich, who host Leeds.
As for Sean Dyche’ side, Merson was clear ahead of their match against Brentford.
“We always assume Burnley will be all right in the Premier League but if they don’t win this, I’d start worrying,” he said, though he has backed a 2-1 win for the Clarets and a 1-0 win for the Canaries.