Arsenal hero hits out at Mikel Arteta team selection and declares title chances ‘gone’ | Football

Arsenal suffered a rare, and significant, home defeat (Picture: Getty Images)

Paul Merson declared Arsenal’s Premier League title chances ‘100 per cent gone’ after defeat to Aston Villa, criticising Mikel Arteta’s team selection in the surprise loss.

The Gunners spurned a number of good chances to score and were eventually beaten 2-0 at The Emirates by Villa, led by their former manager Unai Emery.

Sunday proved to be a dream day for Manchester City in the title race, with Liverpool also beaten at home by Crystal Palace.

Pep Guardiola’s side started the day two points clear at the top of the table and that is where they remain after losses for their two rivals and now the champions are clear favourites to retain their title.

Arsenal may only be two points behind the leaders, but Merson thinks their race is run, such is the quality of Manchester City.

‘For me, it’s gone. 100 per cent,’ Merson told Sky Sports. ‘Because they’re chasing the best team in the world down, the best team in the world that’s done it year in and year out.

‘Unbeaten in 17, they just reel them off. If it was someone else they were chasing down, but I’ve seen this team too many times.’

FBL-ENG-PR-ARSENAL-ASTON VILLA

Mikel Arteta’s side created chances but fell short against Aston Villa (Picture: Getty Images)

Merson felt made some unwise changes to his starting XI, believing Jorginho and Gabriel Martinelli should have been in the side and Leandro Trossard and Gabriel Jesus available on the bench.

‘I said before the game I didn’t like Arteta’s decision with the team he picked,’ said the former Arsenal forward.

‘Keep on playing the same team that wins every week, don’t have the wool pulled over your eyes for a 25-minute cameo against Bayern Munich. Jesus comes on and does well and he moves Havertz.

‘They’ve won nine of 10 with Jorginho and Havertz playing where they were. It was a bench today that if it wasn’t going right, he didn’t have anyone. Usually, you have Trossard and Jesus to come on.

‘He did it against Southampton last season when he left Jorginho out last season. The pressure gets to everybody. That’s where you need a Pep Guardiola who keeps cool.’


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Mikel Arteta urges Arsenal players to ‘respond’ to Aston Villa defeat as Manchester City take lead in title race


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