Merson predicts ‘nervous’ Arsenal trend to continue vs Leicester in ‘defining’ week for Arteta

Jason Soutar
Paul Merson talks about England

Paul Merson believes Arsenal’s trip to Leicester City this weekend could be a “defining” game in their bid to win the Premier League title.

The Gunners are back on top of the Premier League after their manic 4-2 win at Aston Villa and Man City’s 1-1 draw against Nottingham Forest last week.

Nobody expected Mikel Arteta’s side to be challenging for the title, but to be fighting to finish inside the top four after narrowly missing out in 2021-22.

However, they are two points clear of reigning champions City and face Leicester on Saturday afternoon.

The Foxes were comfortably beaten by Man Utd last Sunday but started the game much better than Erik ten Hag’s men and were unfortunate not to be a couple of goals ahead fairly early on.

After a woeful start to the season, Leicester have improved, but could be without their talisman James Maddison, who is not “100 per cent” fit, manager Brendan Rodgers confirmed on Friday.

Former Arsenal midfielder Merson does think the Gunners will win at the King Power, but reckons their recent form indicates that they will continue to be “shaky at the back”.

Going for a 3-2 win for the league leaders, the Sky Sports pundit thinks it could be a different game if his former side score first.

“Arsenal will win this game,” Merson told Sportskeeda. “I thought Leicester City were unlucky the other day against Manchester United. They could have been 2-0 up before Manchester United started scoring.

“Leicester will cause problems for Arsenal this weekend. If they hadn’t missed a couple of big chances and De Gea didn’t make those massive saves, Leicester could have got a result at Old Trafford last Sunday.

“Meanwhile, this could be a defining game for Arsenal. Manchester City, I think, will definitely beat Bournemouth. If Arsenal win here and then beat Everton in midweek, which is their game in hand, they will go five points clear at the top again.

“Arsenal have a relatively easy set of fixtures coming up and if City falter in any of these upcoming game weeks, the Gunners could well be on their way to winning the title. Arsenal are the team to watch right now.

“Arteta’s side seems to get a little nervous on occasion and they’re a bit caught in between wanting to be defensively solid and going all-out in attack.

“They should ideally score the first goal and if they do that, they’ll play their best football for the rest of the game.

“But they haven’t been doing that much in recent games and that’s what has led to them being shaky at the back because the nerves are starting to show.

“I expect Arsenal to come out on top in an entertaining game.”

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