Paul Merson: What Arsenal need to change to finish in top four
The Arsenal legend believes the Gunners squad needs to become more mentally strong
Paul Merson believes Arsenal’s players are not mentally strong enough to secure a return to the Premier League’s top four.
The Gunners finished in sixth spot in the Premier League table last season to culminate in Arsene Wenger’s exit at the Emirates Stadium at the end of the 2017-18 season.
Arsenal appointed Spanish head coach Unai Emery as Wenger’s replacement back in May following his stint in charge of Ligue 1 giants Paris Saint-Germain.
The north London side signed Juventus defender Stephan Lichtsteiner, Bayer Leverkusen goalkeeper Bernd Leno, Borussia Dortmund defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Sampdoria’s Lucas Torreira and Lorient teenager Matteo Guendouzi.
However, Arsenal’s new-look team were unable to spring a surprise against Manchester City in their Premier League opener on Sunday.
Goals from Raheem Sterling and Bernardo Silva sealed a comfortable 2-0 win for the defending Premier League champions.
Former Arsenal star Merson believes the Gunners don’t have enough mentally strong players to challenge their traditional rivals this season.
“If you want to keep on coming along making money and finishing fifth or sixth, nothing has to change,” Merson told Sky Sports.
“But if you want to break in, get to that level, it’s going to need a better mentality of player; I don’t think the players are mentally strong enough.
“I don’t see it – when it went 2-0 and the picture panned away and Bernardo Silva ran to the crowd, it was like Laurel and Hardy with Mesut Ozil, ‘that’s the end of that game’.
“They just seem like a lovely bunch of lads, not even Granit Xhaka is getting them to come on – you never see it with Arsenal.”
Arsenal haven’t won the Premier League title since 2003-04 when the Gunners finished the season unbeaten.
The Gunners will make the short journey to Stamford Bridge to take on Chelsea FC in the Premier League on Saturday evening.