Paul Merson makes prediction about where Arsenal can finish
Paul Merson rates Arsenal's chances of finishing in the Premier League's top four this season
Paul Merson believes Arsenal can “have a chance” of finishing in the Premier League’s top four this season as long as they keep their key players fit.
The north London side earned lots of praise for their dominant performance in Sunday’s north London derby clash as they secured a 3-1 victory over Tottenham to make it three wins in a row in the Premier League.
Emile Smith Rowe and Bukayo Saka both impressed and got on the scoresheet along with striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
The result was a welcome one for the Gunners following their stuttering start to the season, with Mikel Arteta’s side having lost their opening three games in the top flight.
Next up for Arsenal is a trip to Brighton and Hove Albion on Saturday evening as they look to try and make it four wins on the spin in the Premier League.
Former Arsenal star Merson thinks that game will provide the Gunners with the chance to prove that they can challenge for Champions League qualification this season.
“If Arsenal keep those players fit and they play every week, they would have a chance of getting in the top four and cause problems,” Merson told Sky Sports. “They have no Europe this season, so will have time to recover and work on the team.
“But this is Arsenal though and has been since they last won the league in 2004, since when they have never really looked like winning the league.
“The game on Sunday was their bread and butter, but if they win away at Brighton on Saturday, then I will sit up. But if we talk next week and they have lost at the Amex, I would not be shocked. And that is the problem, they need to get a run of games together.
“This is a good XI, but if they get injuries, they are going to struggle as there is not much after that. But from what I’ve seen the last few weeks, fair play to them.
“But how long with Thomas Partey be fit for? How long before Granit Xhaka gets five bookings and misses a game? And then an injury at centre back. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was closing down from the front and setting an example, but where has that been?”
The former midfielder continued: “They have set themselves a yardstick now, they’ve put the bar there, now good teams stay at that level. I did not expect them to lose to Tottenham at all, as they have been very fortunate in their results so far.
“Mikel Arteta had a lot of injuries at the start of the season and what I liked about him was he went to Burnley with a very attacking team, under pressure, and he took a chance, got the ball down when they had it and played. And he absolutely produced in that game and they were brilliant when everyone thought they would be bullied.”
Arsenal have not finished in the Premier League’s top four since the 2015-16 campaign under Arsene Wenger, when they ended up second behind champions Leicester City.
After Saturday’s trip to the south coast, Arsenal will take on Crystal Palace, Aston Villa and Leicester City in their next three Premier League games.