Paul Merson explains his Chelsea FC v Arsenal prediction
Paul Merson and Chris Sutton are both tipping Arsenal and Chelsea FC to play out a 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge on Sunday
Paul Merson is backing Arsenal to claim a 1-1 draw from their trip to Chelsea FC on Sunday and secure what would be a “good result” for the Gunners.
The north London side head into the game fresh from having secured their place in the last 16 of the Europa League with a 1-0 victory over FC Zurich at The Emirates on Thursday night.
Arsenal start the weekend on top of the Premier League table, with their 5-0 victory over Nottingham Forest having moved them back two points ahead of Manchester City.
The Gunners could well be in second place by the time they kick off at Stamford Bridge on Sunday though, with Manchester City hosting Fulham at The Etihad on Saturday afternoon.
Chelsea FC, meanwhile, warmed up for Sunday’s game with a 2-1 home victory over Dinamo Zagreb in the Champions League after already having wrapped up top spot in their group.
In the Premier League, the Blues are looking to bounce back from the disappointment of their 4-1 defeat at the hands of Brighton and Hove Albion last weekend.
Former Arsenal midfielder Merson feels that the game will be evenly poised and he is tipping the London derby clash to end all square.
Writing in his column for Sportskeeda, Merson said: “This is a massive game for both teams, for different reasons. If Arsenal win, they will go 13 points clear of Chelsea.
“Let’s be realistic now – Manchester United, Liverpool, and Chelsea aren’t talking about winning the Premier League title. The title race is over for them, and they’re looking for a top-four finish.
“If Arsenal win this game, they’d have to lose five football matches for Chelsea to catch them, and that’s if Chelsea don’t lose themselves. This is a big game for Arsenal, and they’ll need to avoid defeat. They need to make sure they’re not flat-track bullies. If Arsenal don’t lose this match, you’d expect them to be in the running for the Premier League title for a long time.
“I’m not sure who’s going to play for Chelsea this week. We all know what Arsenal team is going to play, and that’s why they’re at the top of the Premier League table. They’re playing the same team every week, and it’s working a treat – fair play to Arteta.
“Arsenal need a big squad and it does look like they’ll go deep into multiple competitions. They’re at the top of the Premier League table, and they’re doing well in the Europa League. Arsenal need to keep players like Kieran Tierney in their squad.”
He added: “Arsenal are flying in the Premier League at the moment, and they don’t need the World Cup rest. They’re on a roll and they were outstanding against Forest. I think this match will end in a draw, and that’ll be a good result for Arsenal.”
Meanwhile, fellow pundit Chris Sutton agrees with Merson when it comes to the scoreline on Sunday, with the former Chelsea FC man also tipping the game to end in a 1-1 draw in south west London.
“Arsenal have won at Stamford Bridge in each of the past two seasons but I am not convinced they will make it three in a row,” Sutton wrote in his own column for BBC Sport, where he also predicted a 1-1 draw.
“A lot depends on whether Bukayo Saka is fit for the Gunners and how Chelsea boss Graham Potter approaches the game – like one of his predecessors, Claudio Ranieri, he has been a bit of a ‘Tinkerman’ with his team and tactics recently.
“Overall Potter has done well though, and I don’t think his side will be as bad again at the back as they were against Brighton last time out.”
The two sides last met in the Premier League back in late April, when Eddie Nketiah scored twice to help fire Arsenal to a dramatic 4-2 win over the Blues at Stamford Bridge. The Gunners were pushing for a top-four finish at the time but ultimately missed out and ended up fifth in the table.