Arsenal still in Champions League contention after Paul Merson ‘pressure’ claim

A place in next season’s Champions League is still well in contention for Arsenal despite their defeat against Brighton on Saturday, and Mikel Arteta’s boys would do well to take Paul Merson’s advice

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Mikel Arteta reviews Brighton defeat

Arsenal have surrendered their place in the top four after a second consecutive Premier League defeat, but they are still massively in contention, and should listen to what Paul Merson had to say about how the Gunners handle pressure.

It’s been a woeful five-day period for Arsenal as their brutal 3-0 defeat to Crystal Palace was followed up by a 2-1 loss to Brighton at home on Saturday. Arsenal had a spot in the Premier League top four firmly in their grasp, but now arch-rivals Tottenham have jumped above them in the table.

Arsenal no longer hold any advantage over Spurs, and will have to now better their results between now and the end of the season to stand a chance at finishing fourth. But this may not be the worst position to be in, if Merson’s prediction is anything to go by.

It may have been a disastrous week for Arsenal, but things couldn’t be going much better elsewhere in north London, as Tottenham’s 4-0 victory against Aston Villa was their sixth win in their last seven Premier League matches. Spurs have also scored 25 goals in that time, as Antonio Conte’s men can’t seem to stop scoring.

Therefore the odds may now be stacked against Mikel Arteta’s side, but chasing the pack rather than leading the way suits Arsenal, according to Merson. Although vastly improved under the Spaniard, they are not winners just yet, and Merson thinks that Arsenal still struggle to handle the pressure.

Writing in his Daily Star column Merson said: “It was a wake-up call the way Arsenal lost to Crystal Palace. They were well beaten. It put pressure on them with Tottenham winning and I don’t think they handled it very well.

Paul Merson thinks that Arsenal are better when the pressure is off



“Arsenal have brought West Ham and Manchester United back into it as well by losing. But I think there will be a lot of twists and turns to come yet. It’s all about bounceback. It’s going to change every week. It’s going to be like this until the end of the season.”

But now that the top four is not in their hands, Arsenal may be able to play with more freedom and with less pressure on their shoulders, instead of feeling like they need to win and keep looking voer their shoulders.

Tottenham do have the easier run though, with clashes against Liverpool and Arsenal their only meetings with any of the ‘big six’ between now and the end of the season. Arsenal on the other hand, have to face Chelsea, Liverpool and United as well as the north London derby.

HAVE YOUR SAY! Will Arsenal make the top four this season? Let us know in the comments section.

Mikel Arteta has seen his side lose consecutive matches

However, Merson feels as though Tottenham’s hopes rest on Harry Kane as he called Spurs a ‘one-man team’, as he added: “Spurs are all about Harry Kane. If Kane turns up, they can beat anybody. He turned up at the Etihad a few weeks back, was a nine out of ten, and they win the game.

“Now he’s turned up against West Ham and Newcastle and they’ve won those games comfortably and put themselves back in the race. As long as he turns up, they’re alright. But he didn’t turn up at Burnley and they lost. For me they’re a one-man team because he’s the engine.

“If you own a Ferrari it’s no good without an engine in it and he’s the engine. For me, as long as Harry Kane keeps turning up, Spurs will be in there and Arsenal will be in trouble. But surely he can’t keep performing this well for the rest of the season? As soon as he has one of those off-days Spurs will slip up and Arsenal will pounce.”

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