Manchester United should be taken severely as Liverpool’s fundamental Premier League title rivals if they emerge from their go to to Leicester with one other away win, in accordance with Paul Merson.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s place got here underneath scrutiny in November following defeats by Arsenal and Istanbul Basaksehir, and his facet’s early Champions League elimination intensified the stress surrounding his job.
But United moved as much as third within the Premier League following a chaotic 6-2 win over Leeds final weekend, and Merson believes a seventh successive victory this season away from Old Trafford on Boxing Day would signify a landmark consequence.
Former Manchester United goalkeeper Mark Bosnich doesn’t suppose the membership will win this season’s Premier League regardless of transferring 4 factors behind leaders Liverpool with a recreation in hand
“If United go and win at Leicester, this would be a bigger statement than beating Leeds 6-2,” Merson informed Sky Sports. “If they can come away with a win, I would think ‘wow’. It would turn my head and if they win they would be Liverpool’s main rivals.
“I simply suppose with Man City, afterward within the season on the subject of the enterprise finish of the Champions League, if they’re enjoying a quarter-final on the Wednesday I can’t see Pep Guardiola enjoying his strongest crew on the weekend. The Champions League is the one he needs and City are already plenty of factors behind Liverpool.
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It's truthful to say Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's facet have been sub-par for a lot of the season, and have struggled towards sides who arrange in a compact type, notably at Old Trafford.
“With United, I do not really feel like they’ve obtained the quilt required at centre-half to win the Premier League at current. You would in all probability say United are Liverpool’s nearest menace, and I would not have stated that three weeks in the past.
“When you look at the games Leicester have lost this season at home [against West Ham, Aston Villa, Fulham and Everton], they’ve been beaten by teams they were expected to have a go at. They were all games they were expected to win, so this one should suit Leicester, as the game at Tottenham did.”
Inconsistency the problem for Man Utd
Roy Keane and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink provide contrasting views on whether or not Manchester United are real Premier League title contenders
Solskjaer shuffled his pack towards Leeds, handing Daniel James a uncommon begin rather than Mason Greenwood. The tactical alteration didn’t come as a shock to Merson.
“Against Leeds, I didn’t find it a shock at all to see James playing,” he added. “When you play Leeds, you need players who are quick and who are capable of beating opponents as they like to set up one-v-one. West Ham did the same with Said Benrahma at Leeds, but he wasn’t a starter against Chelsea. Certain players will be used against Leeds who aren’t necessarily used every week by their clubs.
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“I’d be shocked if James performs at Leicester since you’d usually play Mason Greenwood over him however James is a greater one-v-one participant with higher tempo. When it involves the tighter video games and also you want a purpose, I’d play Greenwood. United have gotten the squad, however inconsistency is the problem. They went out of the Champions League to RB Leipzig and they’ve been giving groups a head begin all season.
“United are in the hunt but they’ve not played well. They’ve got firepower that other teams just haven’t got. But people are talking about Scott McTominay as if he’s the next Roy Keane all of a sudden. They’ve just played Leeds. If they could pick one team to play each week, it would be Leeds. They need to be producing these performances on a consistent basis.
“Leeds will make their very own probabilities. They’d make them if they have been enjoying towards Bayern Munich, however no facet will not make probabilities towards Leeds when they play gung-ho soccer. Leicester might be utterly completely different. This might be a tough recreation for United as Leicester will not come and have a go.”
Man Utd’s upcoming fixtures
- Dec 26: Leicester A
- Dec 29: Wolves H
- Jan 1: Aston Villa A – reside on Sky Sports Premier League
- Jan 9: Watford (FA Cup third spherical)
- Jan 17: Liverpool A – reside on Sky Sports Premier League
- Jan 20: Fulham A
‘I’d be shocked if Arsenal beat Chelsea’
Mikel Arteta has presided over eight Premier League defeats this time period at Arsenal
United’s go to to the King Power Stadium is a part of a busy Premier League fixture schedule on Boxing Day, which incorporates Chelsea’s journey to Arsenal, reside on Sky Sports.
The corresponding fixture noticed Mikel Arteta undergo defeat in his first residence recreation in cost as Gunners boss, however one other reverse on the Emirates would improve the stress on his place following a torrid begin to the season.
Arsenal have taken 14 factors from their opening 14 video games – their worst file at this stage of a season for the reason that 1974/75 marketing campaign – and Merson is struggling to see past a Chelsea victory.
He stated: “You’d be shocked if Arsenal received, and that is the place this has obtained to. That can’t be proper. I can’t even make a case for Arsenal profitable. I watched them towards Southampton and I used to be pondering what number of Arsenal gamers would get into the Saints crew. Burnley went to the Emirates and fancied it, Wolves went there and experimented! They performed 4 on the again which they by no means did earlier than.
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“Of course, confidence isn’t great at Arsenal and that can play a major part. Man Utd look a different team with confidence, but Arteta needs to go back to what brought Arsenal success – the tactics against Man City in the FA Cup semi-final, the game against Chelsea in the final.
“They want to return to that manner of enjoying, however he is ready now as a younger supervisor new within the recreation, he feels he must maintain impressing. He has to return to being arduous to beat, utilizing tempo on the counter-attack. At the second, it appears like Arteta is shying away from utilizing what are seen as unfavorable ways and is targeted extra on making an attempt to entertain – it is no good.
“Leeds are like the old Arsenal of the past eight or nine years. Arsenal didn’t win anything but everybody loved them because you knew you would watch a good game. Arteta needs to go back to what brought him success at the first time of asking. They beat a very good Man City team at the time and Arteta needs to show the players that video and get back to that.”
Chelsea nonetheless looking for the proper steadiness
Chelsea have been unconvincing of their 3-0 win over West Ham final Monday
Chelsea’s personal progress was checked by consecutive defeats away to Everton and Wolves earlier than Frank Lampard’s facet returned to profitable methods at residence to West Ham. Merson has his personal reservations concerning the guests to the Emirates this weekend.
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“Chelsea had the chance to go top a couple of weeks ago if they won at Everton but then two games later against West Ham it was a cup final,” Merson added. “Had they lost to West Ham, they’d have been out of the title race. In three football matches you can be out of it. No side can afford to lose three matches on the trot.
“Chelsea received 3-0 towards West Ham however if they’d obtained overwhelmed you would not have been shocked. It simply did not appear to be they had a plan. It seemed like 11 superb gamers had been informed to exit and play. It simply would not really feel just like the steadiness is true there but.
“This is a massive match for both teams. Arsenal are in disarray at the moment. They did alright I felt against Everton, but they lost. This is Arsenal, so it’s not good enough to say they did OK. That’s what I would say about a team you expect to be down the bottom. It’s just dragging on now. You can’t see anything other than a Chelsea win, and Chelsea aren’t playing great.”
‘Shocking’ Willian may very well be dropped
Arsenal's Willian has struggled for kind since his summer season swap from Chelsea
This weekend additionally sees Willian face his former membership, however following a promising Premier League debut for Arsenal towards Fulham by which he offered two assists, the Brazilian has struggled to justify his summer season swap from Stamford Bridge.
Merson doubts whether or not the 32-year-old will even be chosen on present kind.
“He’s been shocking,” the Sky Sports pundit added. “I’m a big fan of Willian and at Chelsea he was unbelievable. At times, he was unplayable but he is a shadow of his former self and I don’t know what it is.
“He’s the one one you can ask and once more it should come all the way down to confidence. I’m unsure he’ll play. He’s had sufficient probabilities to play, greater than the opposite youthful gamers.
“Arsenal’s big-name players haven’t been performing over the past six weeks or so and this is the problem Arteta has been having. [Pierre-Emerick] Aubameyang scored the other day, but he’s not really looked like scoring. His body language hasn’t been great, Nicolas Pepe is not even starting all the time and Willian just looks like he’s being carried.”
Tierney deserves Gunners captaincy
Paul Merson believes Kieran Tierney must be entrusted with the Arsenal captaincy
The Gunners appear to have suffered from an absence of management on the pitch with Aubameyang himself admitting he has not been vocal sufficient because the membership captain throughout his latest purpose drought and the crew’s general decline in outcomes.
The crew additionally suffered within the absence of David Luiz in the course of the losses to Tottenham and Burnley whereas Granit Xhaka’s purple card within the defeat to the Clarets underlined the ill-discipline levelled at Arteta’s squad.
Merson believes Kieran Tierney has been Arsenal’s most constant performer this time period and deserves to be handed the armband.
“I would give it to Tierney as he’d run through a brick wall for you,” he stated. “He’s the one player I look at who gives everything, and I’d give him the captaincy. There’s a way of showing how much you care, and the relationship he is building with Bukayo Saka down the left looks decent.
“Arsenal want that throughout the pitch, and in the mean time they’re in a relegation battle. For me, I do not see them doing what Burnley are able to, rolling their sleeves up. Arsenal are looking for the proper win however they want to start out grinding out outcomes.”
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