‘I cannot believe it’: Paul Merson hits out at Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta

Paul Merson was surprised by Mikel Arteta's team selection for Arsenal's FA Cup clash with Southampton

Paul Merson
Arsenal legend Paul Merson (Photo: Sky Sports)

Paul Merson has admitted that he was left baffled by Mikel Arteta’s team selection for Arsenal’s 1-0 FA Cup loss to Southampton on Saturday.

The Spanish head coach opted to make seven changes to his team for the clash against the Saints in the fourth round at the weekend, with the likes of Bukayo Saka and Thomas Partey dropped to the bench.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang missed the game due to a personal matter, while Alexandre Lacazette was also dropped to the bench.

Arsenal struggled to get going in the game and eventually ended up losing to the Saints as the holders were dumped out of the cup competitions following Gabriel’s own goal in the first half.

Former Gunners star Merson has admitted that he was highly surprised to see Arteta ring the changes for the clash given Arsenal’s struggles in the Premier League this season.

Speaking to Sky Sports on Saturday, Merson said: “I don’t know what he’s doing.

“They are not going to win the league. They are not going to get into the top four, I wouldn’t have thought, unless they go on one of the best runs in the history of the Premier League.

“For me, this is the [competition] that made Arteta last time around. He came to Arsenal and had a great semi-final and a great final.

“Honestly, I cannot believe it. This was a more important game than the midweek league game, in my opinion. They are not getting relegated and they are not getting in the top four.

“You do not really want to end up getting sixth or whatever again because then you are playing in the Europa on Thursdays and that just sets you back.

“So, for me, it was a bad decision.”

Arsenal will take on Southampton once again on Tuesday night when they travel to take on the Saints in the Premier League away from home.

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