Let’s discuss Paul Merson’s Arsenal predictions, shall we?

Why so many ex-players are such poor managers and pundits? by Neil Watson

You’d go a long way to find an Arsenal fan that didn’t appreciate how brilliant Paul Merson was in his day….Sure he had his off the field problems but that’s a separate issue.

However the transition from successful player to knowledgeable pundit, or even manager, is a completely different skill set and one which Merse seems spectacularly awful at.

His latest disastrous prediction related to our game against Liverpool. His expert opinion was that, despite winning a string of games we had no right to lose we would be torn apart by Liverpool and exposed for how far off the pace we really are. Really? That’s funny because I watched the entire game yesterday and thought it could have gone either way. I didn’t see Mo Salah or Mane terrorising our defence, or Leno being stretched. All I saw was both teams containing each other quite successfully and, if I were to express a bias, would say we shaded it.

Merson said: “We saw Leicester rip Arsenal to shreds for 30 minutes; they scored, Harry Maguire missed a sitter, they had a stonewall penalty turned down.

“Leicester’s front three aren’t even in the same class as Liverpool’s.

“I just cannot see how Arsenal will live with them.

“People will say: ‘Oh Arsenal will score goals…’ but Liverpool’s defence has been superb.

“I watched Arsenal win 11 games on the trot, and they could have easily lost four of them, let alone drawn them. 1-3.”

It’s not only Merse that tends to make this outrageously inaccurate predictions, Wrighty has a fair few, Roay Keane is a Jedi master as false predictions…..What I don’t fully grasp is how or why they make these statements. I haven’t earned a shilling predicting football outcomes yet it was painfully obvious to me Arsenal wouldn’t be steam rollered by Liverpool. We are so much better than we were at containing teams than we were 12 months ago. I didn’t think we’d lose 0-3 but that would would be the lowest score you could suggest would justify a description of being torn apart. Anything else is a defeat to a decent team.

My prediction was they maybe beat us 1-2 but I was confident we’d get a draw based solely on the fact Liverpool are not firing on all cylinders and our confidence is high.

I think we will see Merse, Wrighty, the Neville’s etc starting to see that we are no longer a soft touch but are a team you’re gonna have to work hard to beat and if you don’t, you stand a good chance of getting beaten yourself.

It just surprises me that a so called expert doesn’t see what your average man sees. Maybe it’s headline grabbing to make huge and bold statements rather than offering more calculated assumption. Adrian Durham has certainly made a career of saying daft things. I just think when ex players turned pundits say it they sound like they’re either bitter they aren’t in the club anymore when they desperately want to be OR they don’t want the current crop of players to do more significant things than they themselves achieved. I hope neither to be honest.

To summarise I’m thrilled to say Paul Merson’s football knowledge off the pitch is about as effective as mine on the pitch although the one difference being nobody would pay me six figures to be so successfully terrible.

Neil Watson


  1. gotanidea says:

    Those pundits just make the prediction based on the teams’ performance in several matches, but they don’t know exactly what is happening on the teams’ training ground

    Football is also not an exact science, therefore nobody can know the final outcome of a match, unless the match is rigged

    I like the comments of the blunt pundits like Merson, as they usually just tell what’s on their minds. Especially the opinions of the ex-Gunners, which only want Arsenal to strive harder, despite sounding otherwise

  2. Andrew E says:

    Merson was never brilliant, at best, he was good. Bergkamp and Henry were brilliant!!!

    1. Declan says:

      Absolutely correct and Mers would say the same. The thing is that most people would have predicted 1-3 if asked.

      1. Andrew E says:

        You’re probably right but they were never going to, to quote him, ‘rip us to shreds’.

        1. Kenny Rolfe says:

          Guys it was 3 or 4 -0 a couple of weeks ago and Liverpool we’re going to tear us to shreds.

    2. gotanidea says:

      Never saw him play. But his incredible EPL goal tally as a midfielder and his trophies tell me that he was of Lampard’s quality

      1. Kenny Rolfe says:

        Never in a million years.

        1. Phil says:

          Merson with the same ability as Lampard?You are right when you say you never saw him play.He was good.But not that good.A certainly nowhere near in the same class as Lampard

      2. Andrew E says:

        He had talent but never reached his full potential because of his off-field activities. Who knows how good he could have been.

        1. ozziegunner says:

          At the same time, not only did he win trophies with Arsenal and play for England, when he transferred to Aston Villa then in the top flight, he won their player of the season.
          Unfortunately his various addictions affected him reaching his full potential. Not the sharpest tool in the shed; however he has been man enough to apologize for his assessment and admit that Arsenal have improved and progressed under Emery more than he thought.

  3. Kenny Rolfe says:

    If I remember correctly I was the first one to highlight Paul Merson’s problems with predictions and at the time put it down to being fired by Wenger but their is another reason why the former drunk and park bench occupant gives us a hard time which I think is more relevant. That’s to keep his job at Sky Sports. Lets have it right, Sky Sports have been digging us out ever since we became Invincible. The truth is they have their favourites who are Manchester United, Liverpool and believe it or not Newcastle. In a perfect world they would have those three clubs fighting it out for the Premier League every year therefore their must be some teams who have to suffer. One of those is Arsenal, They never did like Arsene Wenger that much anyway. I’ll tell you another club that gets a hard time from them and that’s Manchester City and that’s because City have taken the gloss from United and that hurts them big time but there’s nothing they can do about it because City are too good like the Invincible’s we’re. In that ten years of our success if it had of been totally fair we’d have had at least three more Premier League titles. Merson is paid a lot of money by Sky and that’s not for his brilliant journalism because lets be honest, he can’t put three words together without falling over them and the truth is he’s better off giving us a hard time because we’re easy bash that makes Sky happy.

    1. Al Aresenal says:

      Totally agree. The media is biased against Arsenal, especially Arsene Wenger, the 1st truly successful foreign manager in English football. And pundits are….pundits. They need to sell popular stories. So it’s far easy to bash Arsenal as a story. And if you’re an ex-Arsenal player, then your Arsenal bashing story gets more credence. And that’s the only way for an average ex-Arsenal to get on as a pundit. If you compare pundits who are ex-Man U or Liverpool, they seem to support their former clubs better.

    2. Andrew E says:

      Kenny, I think the media in general has a blind spot when it comes to giving us any praise. All they talked about was the offside goal, which, incidentally, was only mentioned after seeing it in slow motion. Of course we have never ever had a decision go against us!!! It is what it is and will always be.

      1. Kenny Rolfe says:

        Absolutely Andrew.

    3. Kenny Rolfe says:

      However, It’ll be different under Unai. Arsene could appear very aloof especially after his first successful ten years. I can tell already that Unai is much more diplomatic than Arsene. He’s been hit with a few hard questions already, Ramsey, Ozil, Laca but he’s answered them easily by pretending his English is not too good. Love it.

      1. Andrew E says:

        I agree, he looks the business, love to see him prowling along the touchline yelling orders and geeing up the players. AW rarely did that and all Bouldy did was chew gum and nod. I think they should extend his contract and tie him to the club for a few years, he already deserves it.

    4. eezzee says:

      Totally agree except the bias thing does not stop with sky, When arsenal play well and win on forums like match of the day and sky, its the failings of the opposition that are focused on and when they have a bad day the pundits rip them to pieces. I watched the last game they lost and shearer dismissed them completely as a not very good team when i thought they did enough to get something from the game. I have,nt even mentioned referees and they are never even up for discussion but the bias against arsenal there is huge. As for merson, just another ex trying to build a career out of critcising arsenal he,s completeley irrelevant and should be totally ignored.

    5. jon fox says:

      Kenny, May i ask you to scroll down to my post further down this topic. We are similar in what we both say..

  4. Goonster says:

    I don’t get all this Merson thing. Why is our fanbase even bothered by what the guy says?
    We just seem like emotional, over sensitive girls.

    Let it go as it is not worth it.

    1. Manny says:

      Soon to be 2019 yet still only girls are sensitive? Break a leg!

  5. pires says:

    Most english pundits are foolish….

  6. jon fox says:

    May I inject a sensible thought to those Gooners who, rather oddly, become upset when certain of our ex[players say something strange, with which they disagree. Why do you become upset! A rhetorical question only to which I have this answer. SOME FANS, and it is only SOME, FAR FROM ALL, imagine that our ex players are bright or have a better IQ than us fans. Some also think all ex players should be true fans merely because they once played in our shirt. Most players, at all clubs, are not especially bright at all and most are not true fans of the club , before and after they play there. Some , like HENRY , ARE but mostly they are not! Please understand this truth. It is widely known that Merson has always supported Chelsea and also that he is scarcely the brain of Britain, which is putting it very mildly indeed. Who cares what a bumbling semi literate, amiable clown like Merson thinks. He is lucky to be on Sky Sport and is desperate to make a mark by keeping his name in the spotlight. What better way, in his odd brain, than to insult the club he ONCE played for but does NOT support. If what this silly man says , upsets you, try thinking things through before overreacting. You surely have better brains than he does. At least I hope you have, for you own sakes. So chill !

    1. Kenny Rolfe says:

      Jon, believe me, it really doesn’t bother me what Merson says, I ‘m only answering the topic which was “lets discuss Paul Merson’s predictions”, however I ‘m also not going to let him off when he blatantly castigates our club, he’s done it time and again, and nore should you.

      1. Kenny Rolfe says:

        Ok, I said “it’s not going to bother me” Lets just say, it’s not going to change my life.

    2. David Rusa says:

      Once again Jon kudos. I think you are the one who can manage some of the dimwits who claim to be wiser than they actually are. Like you rightly observe many of these so called pundits may not necessarily be people of good educational background. Thus in many instances they lack analytical skills. They compensate for this deficiency by pretending to be elite football experts only to be exposed where it matters most. Analytical skills are required in almost every discipline including sports. Unfortunately some of these people cannot appreciate such skills because of their limited intellect.

      1. ken 1945 says:

        David, I always read your posts as they are normally passionate, thought provoking and sensibly put together.

        Are we not all pundits on here, with varying views on different subjects?

        Who are you, me or anyone else, to judge someone because of their educational background?
        Some of the biggest idiots currently in politics were sent to Eton, but think that playing about with a pigs head shows us plebs how analytical skills actually prove they are our superiors, then see them get exposed for telling half truths or everything but the truth so help them god.

        If I’m not mistaken, your saying that a pundit with a good educational background can express himself better than one who hasn’t?
        The point your sadly missing is that it does not mean that he is actually correct in his views.
        It could mean that his educated waffling is actually educated BS!!

        I would go as far as to suggest that even an “uneducated” ex professional footballer would be able to talk about the subject with more accuracy than, say, yourself or me?
        Unless of course, your analytical skills have given you an insight into the professional world of football!

        In this age of computers, analytical skills are not a requirement, neither is it difficult to give an opinion by using the same machine as a prompt when delivering a verbal communication, along with spell check, grammar check, punctuation checks and even abbreviations!!!

        As I have just done with my little pinkie, whilst using a pigs head to give me inspiration.
        Your obedient servant

  7. Igbins Baba says:

    I am happy the team prove him wrong, below statistic after 90 mins shows who boss the match

    4 shots on target 4
    5 shots off target 6
    61 possession (%) 39
    5 corners 8
    7 offsides 1
    7 fouls 7
    9 goal kicks 8

  8. Sue says:

    Ian Wright loved it on MOTD last night… when he talks about us, he always says ‘we’ ??
    Merson has admitted he got it wrong about us… and that he’s glad we proved him wrong & that he never wants to see us do badly, but something along the lines of he’s paid for his opinion

    1. jon fox says:

      Of course Sue. Wrighty is a true Gooner , ever since joining us. He came from humble beginnings and knew as soon as he signed that hsi big life footballchance had come. He always wore his heart on his sleeve an s still does. Even so, and you may think that odd for a black man – since many of their fans are racist thugs – he was a Millwall fan and still likes them, even now. But unlike Merse , he is a proper GOONER. That is blindingly obvious to all.

  9. ken1945 says:

    Just arrived home and, can I first of all say just how wonderful it was to be at the stadium yesterday?
    This was The Arsenal of old..the crowd were electric and were the twelth man so badly missed over the last couple of years.
    Brilliant chanting, no moaning, backing every player and absorbing the wonderful team spirit as it unfolded from the very first whistle.

    The team were just awesome, never giving up and playing for each other and the fans.
    Not one player deserves any critiscism and at all and that goes for the bench as well. From where I sit, the explosion of Arsenal people from that area when we scored was wonderful to see.
    Unai Emery has turned this club, it’s players and the supporters into one juggernaut and this after just six months.
    We have discovered yet another brilliant manager, who has turned average players (based on the last two seasons) into top four contenders.
    Just realised Iv’e said the same thing twice, but I am still buzzing even after my 500 mile trip home.

    Paul Merson? A man who wasted his talents and wouldn’t have got on the bench when the Invincibles were around.
    In fact, under Emery, he wouldn’t even get in the ground!!!
    Just my personal opinion of course.
    As Kenny says, he finds it difficult to put a sentence together that could actually be called sensible and with any factual evidence.
    Someone also mentioned Durham…while I find this man obnoxious, he is at least honest in his feelings towards our club.
    Merson, on the other hand, has never forgiven Arsenal for sending him on his way.
    He attacks us at every opportunity, but this time he has made a real fool of himself.
    Don’t know about Durham, but I bet he was saying the same thing.
    At least on here we get different opinions from real gooners, have discussions and disagreements all the time, some heated and some funny BUT from real GOONERS.
    This is for the love of the club, not trying to make headlines and “earn” the monthly sky salary.
    My opinion? Stay on here and forget this pillock, who faIled so badly at Walsall as a manager and his playing career once he left us.

    Back down Thursday and staying there for the Wolves game…can’t wait to see the boys again!!!!

    1. Andrew E says:

      Well said Ken, it really looks as though we have got our Arsenal back!! Emery looks the business, I love his enthusiasm which seems to be rubbing off on the players and the fans. Top 4 definitely looks realistic now!!

      1. ozziegunner says:

        Ken, lucky you. I hope the trip down and back from Scotland was good too.

  10. Sheksman says:

    I wonder how Merson go about his prediction, it really hurts him when Arsenal win I guess

  11. Angus says:

    Firstly accurate result predictions are prone to VERY regular mistakes even if you are right about the fav. It’s rare any home team is 90%+ unless insane level like City currently outside that it is a 10%+ no win scenario so prediction gone. In big games its rare a fav is 60%+ so yeah and in many lucky to be 40%+. I mean Merson (self-confessed Chelsea fan btw) is an idiot who got very lucky to live in a time where he could get away with it both off the field in general and just mentally but damn people do not understand statistics remotely. When Leicester won the league bookies adjusted the odds because they messed up on 1000/1 (they didn’t listen to Wenger constantly saying ever increasing TV money was evening out the league) still they changed outsiders to 200/1 it was still a perfect unlikely storm but a lot of people can’t get their heads around the fact a 1% or 0.5% chance happens 1% or 0.5% of the time. It really should not be that hard to grasp but 50% are below average mentally so…………….. shouldn’t be that surprised

  12. ozziegunner says:

    Unfortunately, many footballers, to reach the elite level, have to put so much time into the game from a young age that their education is neglected. This is a reason why so few make it in football management because their skill sets are limited in analysis, communication, personnel management, psychology, negotiation etc.
    As far as education goes, one exception I know of is Dennis Bergkamp, who is a professionally qualified Mechanical Engineer.

    1. ken 1945 says:

      Thanks Ozziegunner, it’s a much nicer journey when we play like that!!
      Hope I didn’t come over too excited, I forget that true gooners like yourself aren’t lucky enough to have a ticket.

      1. ozziegunner says:

        Ken, I am quite happy to enjoy your excitement by surragacy from afar. I am looking forward to traveling to the UK to attend the Emirates and hopefully take up the opportunities to catch up with you and Phil.
        Please contact me direct by getting my email address from Admin.

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