Paul Merson has called Arsenal a ‘cup team’, before urging them to use the fixture with Liverpool as a ‘benchmark’ to figure out just how far behind they are.
Our side finished down in eighth in last season’s Premier League table, but the club made vast improvements under Mikel Arteta after he was brought in as manager in December, and an improved showing will be expected in the new campaign.
We will also be boosted by the additions of Willian and William Saliba tomorrow, with more signings expected to follow also, while another Brazilian is also reported to be close, with Merson claiming it would be a big deal if were to complete the signing over our rivals.
‘If Arsenal sign Gabriel Magalhaes I think it’s a big statement because of all the other clubs that were after him,’ Merson told the DailyStar.
‘If Arsenal have managed to get him in without having Champions League football to offer, I think that’s huge.
‘I like what Mikel Arteta is doing. But there are plenty of teams around them getting better as well.
‘Chelsea have bought amazingly well. They are going to close the gap on Liverpool next season.
‘It could be one of the tightest league title races in a long time. But Arsenal have a long way to go to get to that level.’
The former Arsenal star added that we should use the clash with Liverpool to figure out just how big the gap is between our side and the top of the table.
Merson added: ‘The Community Shield is a benchmark for Arsenal to see how far behind Liverpool they still are.
‘They could beat Liverpool and win the game. Of course they could. But that’s what Arsenal are – a cup team.
‘On their day they can beat anybody. But how often is their day? Over 38 games it’s Liverpool who are consistent. That’s what Arsenal need to find. Consistency.
‘That’s why this game is a benchmark for them. They need to see how far behind they are.’