Merson reserves Arsenal title judgement until Liverpool clash; predicts win vs Spurs

Paul Merson will not say Arsenal are title contenders unless they beat Tottenham this Saturday before a win against Liverpool next week.

The Gunners are currently top of the Premier League after winning six of their opening seven matches.

Arsenal v Spurs: Pace of change since the last Emirates NLD could give you whiplash

Their only defeat came against Manchester United at Old Trafford earlier this month.

The match against United was Mikel Arteta’s side’s biggest test of the season so far, but it does not get bigger and more important than a north London derby at home.

Tottenham are unbeaten in the league but have not looked totally convincing.

In their last encounter, Antonio Conte’s side disposed of Leicester City 6-2 despite putting in a pretty average performance.

It is believed that Spurs will be without winger Dejan Kulusevski, while Gunners playmaker Emile Smith Rowe underwent surgery this week and will be out of action until December.

Playing at the Emirates will be a huge test for Spurs, and former Arsenal midfielder Merson cannot see them picking up anything from their trip across north London.

He adds that he does not see Arsenal as title contenders just yet but will consider them just that if they beat their local rivals and back it up with a victory against Liverpool next week.

“This is a game that never lets you down,” Merson wrote in his Sportskeeda column. “There are certain other games in the Premier League calendar where we build them up and they disappoint, but that is never the case with this fixture.

“The way they’re playing at the moment, I don’t see Tottenham being able to beat Arsenal. They did defeat Leicester by a 6-2 margin the other day, but the scoreline flattered them in my opinion.

“Son Heung-Min hasn’t done well when he’s started games so far this season, and Antonio Conte might use him as an impact player to turn to on the bench.

“Are Arsenal title contenders? I’ll be able to answer that question after they play Liverpool next week. There’s no point in winning one big game and losing the next one.

“Arsenal lost to Manchester United and they now have two big games which they need to win.”

Merson said that Benjamin White not being called up to the England squad for the international break was a surprising decision and that his game compliments Kieran Tierney, who has the license to maraud down the left flank with White on the opposite side of defence.

“I was quite shocked that Ben White didn’t make it to the England squad. He can play in three different positions, and that could help Gareth Southgate,” he added.

“When White plays at right-back for Arsenal, it allows Tierney to bomb forward and they effectively play with a back three. It has worked well for Mikel Arteta so far, and there’s no reason to change that.

“With Manchester City in the title race, both these teams should realistically aim for a top-four finish.

“Arsenal absolutely dismantled Brentford in their previous game, and their home advantage gives them the upper hand in this match.”

Merson predicted a 2-1 win for Arsenal, a little more than a year on from their 3-1 win in the same fixture.

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