Merson exposes Arteta’s major mistake during Arsenal’s damaging April slump – ‘I was shocked’

·3-min read
Merson speaks on Arsenal Credit: Alamy
Merson speaks on Arsenal Credit: Alamy

Paul Merson has exposed one major mistake Mikel Arteta made during Arsenal’s poor run of form in the Premier League last month.

The Gunners have been top of the Premier League for most of this season but they now look likely to finish second.

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Man City have leapfrogged Arsenal in the table after winning ten league matches in a row. Arteta’s side were clear at the summit but their four-game winless run last month may cost them the title.

The Gunners slipped up in draws against Liverpool, West Ham and Southampton before they were beaten 4-1 by Man City. Pep Guardiola’s side are one point clear of their rivals with a game in hand.

If they take maximum points from their remaining fixtures, City will end up with 94 points. Arsenal meanwhile will finish with 90 points if they win their last three games.

Arsenal have bounced back in recent weeks as they beat Chelsea and Newcastle. Merson thinks Arteta “will have learnt lessons” from his side’s woes in April and he reckons “Jorginho should have started against Southampton”.

“I think Mikel Arteta will have learnt lessons from this last month,” Merson told Sky Sports. “Looking back, Jorginho should have started against Southampton.

“It was a game Arsenal simply had to win, not by seven or eight goals, just win. I know hindsight is crystal clear, but Jorginho was brought in for a reason, and I think he would have helped keep things tight, ensured Southampton didn’t score, and then created chances.”

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Merson went onto explain why he was “shocked” when he found out that Arteta was starting Fabio Vieira over Jorginho against the Saints.

“I was shocked Fabio Vieira, who has not had a great season, played ahead of Jorginho, and Arsenal went on to draw the game,” Merson added.

“Jorginho manages the game. People say he cannot run, but you don’t have to run, his brain is quick. You’re better off having a quick brain than quick legs.

“You know what the best skill in football is? It isn’t stepovers or flicks, funnily enough it’s finding your team-mates with the ball. It’s an unbelievable skill that often goes under the radar. Everyone wants to see players beating seven defenders and scoring amazing solo goals, but the best skill is passing the ball successfully.

“Don’t talk to me about ballers! It’s about keeping the ball, looking after the ball, passing and moving. Jorginho was man-of-the-match at Newcastle because he did just that. What he did won’t be on social media, kids won’t be watching that, there won’t be clips, because what he does goes under the radar.

“For me, Jorginho has to play for Arsenal. They have got the ammunition up front, we have seen that, Martinelli and Saka have delivered, whereas Jorginho brings balance.”

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