Paul Merson says Arsenal’s place on the high of the Premier League desk isn’t a “fluke”, whereas Alan Smith believes the squad is “older and wiser” for a title cost.
After title rivals Manchester Metropolis and Newcastle dropped factors earlier on New 12 months’s Eve, the Gunners beat Brighton 4-2 on the Amex Stadium to see them seven factors clear heading into 2023.
No staff in Premier League historical past has surrendered such a lead after 16 video games and has gone on to win the title.
Whereas there are nonetheless 22 video games to go – and a run of fixtures within the new 12 months that would outline their title prospects – Sky Sports activities pundit Merson doesn’t consider Arsenal’s current success is a coincidence.
“Arsenal are taking part in very properly, it is not been a fluke,” Merson advised Sky Sports activities.
“They went to Previous Trafford and obtained beat, and I did not assume they deserved to. There are methods of dropping matches they usually bounced again.
“The opposite night time, they went 1-0 right down to West Ham they usually got here again and brushed them apart.
“They’re proper in it, no query. This isn’t a fluke, they’re the place they’re as a result of they’re an excellent soccer staff.
“There are 26 video games left, they have to do it for an additional 22 most likely. They’ve given themselves somewhat hole the place they’ll afford to lose just a few video games. Man Metropolis are usually not going to win each recreation.
“Arsenal are proper on this, I could not speak extremely sufficient about them. However that is the Premier League, it adjustments so shortly.
“These three fixtures: Newcastle, Tottenham, Man United. In the event that they beat Newcastle, you count on them to get a end result at Tottenham, in the event that they get a end result at Tottenham I would count on them to beat United.
“If they do not beat Newcastle, you do not count on them to beat Tottenham, they do not beat Tottenham then you do not count on them to beat United. It is a domino impact. In the mean time, they’re doing all the things proper.
“They’re in a terrific place, there’s a lengthy strategy to go.
“They began so properly and that is the secret. That they had somewhat little bit of a dip when Arteta modified the staff and took the full-backs off, however who goes to Brighton and scores 4 targets?
“We will all the time say they let within the two targets however you have to take pleasure in it. They’re taking part in nice soccer and in the mean time they’re the very best staff within the nation. They’re the primary staff.
“They give the impression of being good, they’re scoring targets, all 4 forwards scored right now. You’ll be able to’t speak extremely sufficient about them.”
Merson additionally believes that solely Arsenal and Man Metropolis can now realistically win the Premier League title – except one other aspect creates historical past.
Saka on Arsenal’s title possibilities: ‘It’s a nice alternative’
Arsenal ahead Bukayo Saka to Sky Sports activities:
“[It] Sounds superb [being seven points clear]. After all in the beginning of the season in case you requested us if we needed this we might chunk your hand off. We’re actually glad.”
On his aspect’s fast begin: “There was huge emphasis. We all know how laborious it’s to come back right here and climate as properly it wasn’t straightforward. That objective good and early set us up. I couldnt consider it felll for me. I simply needed to try to present some composure.”
And on Arsenal’s possibilities in the remainder of the season: “It’s a nice alternative we’ve – a terrific place we’ve put ourselves in. We aren’t focussing on that now. We’re focussing on the following recreation as a result of we all know how properly Newcastle have been taking part in.”
“Once we stopped for the World Cup you thought this might solely hurt Arsenal. They had been flying they usually’ve come again and scored seven targets in two video games,” Merson added.
“They have a platform, it is of their palms. I do know there is a lengthy strategy to go however there are huge groups on this league who cannot win it – Chelsea, Liverpool, Tottenham, most likely Man United.
“It is out of Arsenal and Man Metropolis except the opposite groups go on essentially the most extraordinary run you’ve got ever seen in Premier League historical past.”
Subsequent up for Arsenal is third-place Newcastle on Wednesday, stay on Sky Sports activities, and Merson expects one other residence win for the Gunners.
“I believe they’re going to beat Newcastle,” he stated. “They’ve simply received two video games, scored seven targets, confidence is excessive. They’ve received each recreation at residence this season within the league, that is some doing.
“They’re good to look at, it is not a fluke. You have to take a look at Man Metropolis, they’ve misplaced at residence to Brentford and drawn at residence to Everton who’re on a foul run. They’re two video games they’re anticipated to win. That is 5 factors dropped. I do not see anybody stopping Arsenal in the mean time.”
Smith: Squad is older and wiser
After Arsenal’s season tailed off in the direction of the tip of the final marketing campaign, Sky Sports activities’ Smith believes the Gunners have extra expertise to deal with the pressures of a title problem this time round.
He stated: “I believe they do [Arsenal fans believe Arsenal can win the title], there is not any doubt about that. It does not take a lot for followers to get excited and optimistic. While you’re seven factors clear, you do assume ‘perhaps that is our 12 months’.
“I do not assume any of us thought this was going to be doable in the beginning. It is such an uncommon state of affairs, however everybody nonetheless actually thinks Manchester Metropolis are going to win it.
Odegaard: We give attention to ourselves
Arsenal captain Martin Odegaard talking to Sky Sports activities on whether or not Manchester Metropolis’s failure to beat Everton earlier within the day affected his staff:
“To be trustworthy, we give attention to ourselves. We do not care in regards to the different groups. Three factors was all the things right now and we did it. Possibly we have to management the sport a bit higher, we allow them to in a few instances, however they’re a very good staff, good on the ball.”
“However which may play to Arsenal’s benefit. That run of fixtures working as much as the Man Metropolis recreation on February 15, if they’ll nonetheless preserve a spot and if they’ll beat Metropolis, then you definately actually do begin to consider.
“The wheels got here off on the finish of final season – the Spurs recreation and the Newcastle recreation away the place they did not flip up, they ran our of fuel, their squad was stretched to the restrict.
“Their squad is best this season by way of energy in depth they usually’re extra mature. They’re nonetheless the youngest aspect within the Premier League with their common beginning XI, however there’s that have. You’ll hope they’ve learnt from final season. They seem to be a 12 months older and hopefully a 12 months wiser.”
After all, two of Arsenal’s summer time signings – Gabriel Jesus and Oleksandr Zinchenko – have received Premier League titles at Man Metropolis, and Smith believes the duo are having an affect.
He added: “A number of it’s most likely issues that go on behind the scenes, on the coaching floor Monday to Friday, within the dressing room earlier than matches and after matches – that have of successful issues, easy methods to deal with sure conditions.
“They’re each younger lads, Jesus and Zinchenko, however they’ve seen all of it beneath Pep at Metropolis and it has been remarked upon rather a lot and I am positive that was an enormous cause why Arteta purchased these two gamers in, aside from their capacity.
“While you’re in these positions, it is setting the usual going ahead so they may play an enormous half.”
Arteta: We had been ruthless and medical
Arsenal supervisor Mikel Arteta hailed the victory on the south coast with 4 completely different gamers on the scoresheet, crediting his aspect for taking their possibilities.
“Huge win towards a very good aspect,” he advised Sky Sports activities. “We had huge moments, we had been ruthless, actually medical. We had some nice moments after which as properly there have been moments the place we needed to dig in and endure as a result of they put you in bother and are a very good aspect.
“When you count on to come back right here towards Brighton and play them off the park, and do not concede something, it is extraordinarily tough. It was an enormous take a look at for us to win once more, three in a row. It is a huge win and now onto the following one.
“We began actually quick, after the primary one, I believe we’ve two or three huge possibilities to place the sport in a a lot snug place but it surely was by no means completed. You had the sensation they had been going to offer all the things they might and commit numerous gamers ahead, and take a look at the final line. They did and we needed to handle some tough conditions.”
With some huge video games to come back within the subsequent few weeks, Arteta remained calm and stated regardless of understanding the 3pm outcomes earlier than kick-off, Arsenal stay centered on themselves.
He added: “We have now to focus once more, assessment the match. There are numerous issues we’ve completed very well and numerous issues nonetheless to enhance and take these ones into the following match. We should take the identical power and momentum.
“You take a look at each end result, clearly you already know what occurred however we’ve to give attention to what we are able to do which was to carry out towards a very tough aspect and win.”
Sky Sports activities’ Lewis Jones:
“One of many clues to understanding when an elite staff is in entrance of your eyes is how they’ll harm the opposition from all angles. Hardly ever can an all-conquering staff depend on only one space of assault. Arsenal can hit you from the left, from the fitting and thru the center. Brighton felt the drive of that because the Gunners stretched seven factors clear.
“Gabriel Martinelli, Martin Odegaard, Bukayo Saka and Eddie Nketiah all discovered the online as Arsenal’s capacity to unfold the targets round is proving an enormous energy of their sudden push for the Premier League title.
“They now have 4 gamers who’ve scored 5 or extra Premier League targets this season – Martinelli, Odegaard, Saka and Gabriel Jesus. No different staff can lay declare to that.
“And Nketiah can be becoming a member of that social gathering earlier than lengthy if he continues his strike price that has seen him rating in each his begins for the reason that harm to Jesus. There’s an argument to be made that Jesus might haven’t scored the one Nketiah obtained on the Amex Stadium such was the poacher-like instincts proven by the Arsenal teenager – that is his speciality. Arsenal are doing simply advantageous with out the Brazilian as there isn’t a overreliance on a sure particular person. It may take all of them the best way.”