Paul Merson has claimed that Arsenal’s only chance of finishing in the top four this season depends on the starting XI from the Tottenham clash staying fit, a reality that has already been ruined.
The Gunners were thoroughly impressive in beating Spurs at the weekend, storming into a 3-0 lead at the break, before eventually settling for a 3-1 win come the final whistle.
That has seen us leapfrog our rivals in the table, with us going from bottom after weekday three(with our noisy neighbours sitting pretty at the top), while we now occupy 10th spot, with Spurs now stuck in 11th.
While we have bigger aspirations than simply finishing above our rivals, it is a big step in the right direction, and some are even tipping us to push further up the table with our strongest starting XI having shown themselves this weekend.
Paul Merson has gone a step further however, claiming that the team that played this weekend would bring us into contention of finishing in the Champions League places.
“If Arsenal keep those players fit and they play every week, they would have a chance of getting in the top four and cause problems. They have no Europe this season, so will have time to recover and work on the team.
“But this is Arsenal though and has been since they last won the league in 2004, since when they have never really looked like winning the league.
“The game on Sunday was their bread and butter, but if they win away at Brighton on Saturday, then I will sit up. But if we talk next week and they have lost at the Amex, I would not be shocked. And that is the problem, they need to get a run of games together.
“This is a good XI, but if they get injuries, they are going to struggle as there is not much after that. But from what I’ve seen the last few weeks, fair play to them.
“But how long will Thomas Partey be fit for? How long before Granit Xhaka gets five bookings and misses a game? And then an injury at centre back. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was closing down from the front and setting an example, but where has that been?
“They have set themselves a yardstick now, they’ve put the bar there, now good teams stay at that level. I did not expect them to lose to Tottenham at all, as they have been very fortunate in their results so far.”
Unfortunately, we have already suffered a loss on that one condition. Granit Xhaka is already ruled out until around Christmas in what will come as a huge blow after his performance on Sunday.
Do Arsenal have sufficient cover for Xhaka to have a chance of keeping on our upward curve? Is our first-team worthy of considering for a push for the CL places?