Paul Merson explains his prediction for Arsenal v Nottingham Forest
Paul Merson explains why he's expecting Arsenal to keep their place at the top of the Premier League table
Paul Merson is expecting Arsenal to have no problems against Nottingham Forest at The Emirates on Sunday – and is backing the home side to earn a comfortable 3-0 win.
The Gunners head into the game on the back of the disappointment of their 2-0 loss to PSV Eindhoven in the Europa League on Thursday night and after having dropped points in their 1-1 draw against Southampton last weekend.
Arsenal are still two points clear at the top of the Premier League table, but they may find themselves a point behind Manchester City by the time they kick off against Forest, with second-placed Manchester City travelling to Leicester City on Saturday lunchtime.
Former Arsenal midfielder Merson has been impressed by the way Arteta has set his team up this season and praised Granit Xhaka for the way he has been performing so far this term.
And the ex-England international is expecting to see the home side claim a comfortable home victory against newly-promoted Forest on Sunday afternoon to keep their spot at the top of the table.
Writing in his column for Sportskeeda, Merson said: “Mikel Arteta has been quite clever with Arsenal. He has played four solid defenders at the back – Ben White, Tomiyasu, and the two centre-backs.
“Thomas Partey plays in front of them – he’s played for one of the most disciplined teams in world football in Atletico Madrid. Arteta’s told the rest of the team to go out there and express themselves, and it’s worked wonders for his side.
“Granit Xhaka is playing for Arsenal now like he does for Switzerland. I used to watch him play for his national team and wonder why he couldn’t play like that for Arsenal. He has turned up now, and I don’t think he gets the credit he deserves. He plays for his manager, and he’s always been one of the first names on the team-sheet.
“I know they suffered a bad result the other day against Southampton, but they didn’t lose – that’s a big compliment. Last season, they would’ve lost that game. If Arsenal are at the top of the Premier League table come the World Cup break, it’ll be a massive feat.
“Nottingham Forest will sit back and play ten men behind the ball, but I think Arsenal will have too much for them. The earlier they find the back of the net, the bigger the final score will be. Forest are going to play one way and one way only, but I think Arsenal should be able to win this match.”
Meanwhile, former Chelsea FC man Chris Sutton is also predicting a win for Arsenal on Sunday, tipping the Gunners to claim a 2-0 victory in front of their home fans.
Forest head into the game after their remarkable 1-0 win over Liverpool FC at home last weekend, but the visitors to The Emirates are still rooted to the foot of the Premier League table.
Sutton is tipping Arsenal to win, and says the next few weeks will show whether the Gunners have the strength in depth needed to sustain a title challenge this season.
“This is top of the table versus bottom, but the way last weekend’s games went for both teams made me stop and think about this one a bit more,” Sutton told BBC Sport. “I am still going for Arsenal to win, but they looked a bit tired in the second half of their draw with Southampton on Sunday.
“Forest have been a bit more stubborn in their past couple of games and have kept two clean sheets. They seem to have found a bit of defensive stability and it is down to Arsenal to find a way through.
“Because they are at home, I have to back the Gunners, but these next few weeks before the season stops for the World Cup will tell us a lot about their squad, and whether it is strong enough.”
Arsenal will conclude their Europa League group-stage campaign with a home clash against FC Zurich on Thursday, before a trip to Chelsea FC next Sunday.