Sky Sports’ Paul Merson gives his thoughts on Tottenham’s new brand of entertaining football under Ange Postecoglou, as Harry Kane becomes a distant memory, while discussing Mikel Arteta’s complications at Arsenal.
Spurs better without Kane – Postecoglou brings style
Tottenham have started well. I do like the manager, and they’re playing entertaining football. The so-called ‘Tottenham way’, although I’m not quite sure what that is because they never win anything, but it’s more enjoyable to watch.
I said originally they wouldn’t finish in the top half – but I know someone who travels home and away to watch Spurs and he said they’ll be a better team without Harry Kane. Three games in he’s not wrong.
That might not be Kane, it might be the manager – I like him, he’s very good. I don’t see them finishing inside the top four, because it’ll be ups and downs with the way they play, but it’s going to be a better watch.
Kane is obviously that good there is no direct replacement, but they do need someone in. Maybe they wait until January and go for Ivan Toney. If they’re not in the top-four race in January I doubt they’ll spend big until the summer, when they’ve assessed the first season under Ange Postecoglou.
‘Predictable’ Arsenal reverting to bad habits
Arsenal are getting a bit predictable, you’ve got the two wingers who stay out wide, then a striker through the middle, but there’s no movement. It’s like Subbuteo football. There’s no interchange. Teams have caught on and they’ve got to be careful.
Arsenal are going back to old ways – the best team you’ve ever seen with the ball, and the worst team without it. They’ve not got any ball winners, it’s just Declan Rice. Top-quality teams will go through Arsenal.
Arteta’s system unnecessarily complicated
I’m shocked where Kai Havertz is playing. I didn’t see that in my wildest dreams. I’m a big Havertz fan. He’s a centre-forward, he can score goals, he scored plenty in Germany. He can’t play on the left.
All of a sudden Gabriel is out of the team and you’re playing Thomas Partey at right-back – why? They’re all trying to do this full-back thing – not even Pep Guardiola does that any more. John Stones plays at the back and steps into midfield. Postecoglou made a joke at the weekend about copying Pep, but he doesn’t do it, so I don’t know why Arsenal are?
They’ve let in three goals in the first minute of football matches in nine games. That’s not a coincidence. I do worry for Arsenal, Arteta is changing things around, I just find it complicated. This experiment all the time, you’ve got to trust your players – why didn’t Eddie Nketiah start against Fulham? Arsenal are meant to be Manchester City’s biggest challengers and they’ve not had a hard start.
The acid test will be Manchester United (live on Super Sunday on September 3) – Spurs beat them, so Arsenal have got to.
Chelsea a better team away from Stamford Bridge
When Chelsea moved the ball quickly they went through Luton like a knife through butter but sometimes it was just too slow. Some of the football was great.
If Enzo Fernandez scores that penalty at West Ham we’d be waxing lyrical about them, because they would have gone on to beat West Ham by three or four that day. We’d be saying, ‘what an unbelievable start’. One missed penalty and before you know it you’re middle of the table. It’s such thin margins.
I like Chelsea – they could finish in the top four. I did think it would be a distant dream at the start of the season, but I can see it now. If Nicolas Jackson can keep scoring, he’s lively and quick, I like him a lot. Chelsea’s biggest worry will be when teams sit 10 men behind the ball at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea will have a field day away from home this season. Jackson and Raheem Sterling can be electric, and you’ve got guile in midfield with Fernandez.
If Mauricio Pochettino gets Chelsea in the top four it would be an amazing season. Where they were, the turnover, top four would be a massive feat. He’s pulling up a tree if he gets them in the top four.
Nunez a handful – Liverpool packed with goals
I like the lad Darwin Nunez, every now and then he picks the wrong pass or doesn’t see it, but he’s lively and sharp, he’s a handful. I’d play him every week.
I’m a huge fan of Dominik Szoboszlai, he was outstanding against Newcastle. He didn’t stop, picked the right passes, and I think he’s an outstanding buy. If Liverpool don’t finish in the top four you’re asking questions.
They’ve got five forwards who all score goals – more firepower than most other teams. Mo Salah, Luis Diaz, Cody Gakpo, Diogo Jota and Nunez, you’d expect all of them to score goals.
Manchester City have a team of providers – Phil Foden, Jack Grealish and Bernardo Silva all provide, but the Liverpool lot are goal scorers. They have firepower, it’s just whether Jurgen Klopp can get that mix right.