Sky Football pundit Paul Merson has upset the majority of Arsenal fans by claiming that only one player in the current squad would make the current Chelsea side.
Unsurprisingly, the player was Alexis Sanchez but Merson failed to mention Alexandre Lacazette, Hector Bellerin, World Cup winners Per Mertesacker and Mesut Özil or even Petr Čech.
Speaking to SKY, he said:
“This is Arsenal versus Chelsea and I can only find one Arsenal player. Where has it all gone wrong?” Merson said.
“I’m being kind with Sanchez if anything. If you’re a Chelsea fan you’re thinking that’s harsh on Pedro and Willian on current form.”
I’m sure Antonio Conte would bolster his squad with more than one of those mentioned and Merson, it would seem, has given Chelsea far more credit than they actually deserve.
Willian, Kante, Pedro and Costa, would be on anyone’s shopping list but look through the rest of the team and the gap shortens considerably.
Eden Hazard is almost certainly the jewel in the Chelsea crown but they somehow inexplicably let Diego Costa go walkabout when he could walk into any of the top six clubs in the Premier League.
If Chelsea fail to get close this term that will be considered one of the major reasons why, along with Hazard’s absence.
Merson, not adverse to ill-advised comments and emotional inconsistencies, has failed to note how Arsenal pulled Chelsea apart in May’s FA Cup, where Chelsea looked to be a shadow of the team that ran off with the title.
Yes, Arsenal had little to lose and it was their last chance of silverware but Chelsea with all their major assets didn’t show up. Let’s not forget that this would have secured the double.
Arsenal’s form has certainly been indifferent and the problems of last year and the year before that are still evident but they can win the match on Sunday without a doubt. On their day, there is no finer team to watch but they do have a soft underbelly.
On the other hand, Gary Cahill is no John Terry. He is a solid defender but he is not as astute as Chelsea’s long serving Captain and an early goal could set the tone.
Like all the top six, Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea and even Man City at times, are vulnerable at the back and prone to lapses of concentration. Only United seem to be better equipped for the full 90 minutes which has always been instilled in the team from the days of Alex Ferguson.
For Merson to assume that the Arsenal players aren’t aware of the significance of this match insults them as professionals. The outcome of this match will impact hugely on the ambition of either club and a betting man would surely look to a draw for safety.
Even a draw would suit neither club, to fall another 2 points off the pace would prove difficult to retrieve in one of the most competitive leagues in the World.
One has to feel that Wenger has just added Two major players to his team in Lacazette and Kolasinac and that with a fully functioning Ozil, re energised Sanchez and thrusting attacks of Bellerin, Chelsea could have a difficult day at the office.
If, if’s and but’s were cherries and nuts, we’d all have a Merry Christmas but as football fans we know that results are as unpredictable as the weather. One decisive moment is all this game needs, one lapse, one poor decision and it will be enough to turn the tide in either teams favour.
Let’s hope that team is Arsenal and Merson can indulge himself with humble pie for a few weeks.
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