Arsenal are unlikely to be stopped in their quest to win a shock Premier League title, according to their former midfielder Paul Merson.
The Gunners impressively moved into a seven-point lead at the top of the table with a 4-2 victory at Brighton and Hove Albion on Saturday.
Draws for Manchester City and Newcastle United earlier on New Year’s Eve gave the Gunners a chance to increase their lead at the summit.
And they grabbed it with both hands at the Amex Stadium, Bukayo Saka setting them on their way with a goal after only 66 seconds.
Inspirational captain Martin Odegaard doubled Arsenal’s lead and Eddie Nketiah added a third goal, with Gabriel Martinelli getting in on the act either side of strikes from Brighton duo Kaoru Mitoma and Evan Ferguson.
Arsenal are sitting pretty after five consecutive top-flight wins and face third-placed Newcastle at home on Tuesday in a crucial contest.
5 – Arsenal are just the fifth side in English top-flight history to pick up as many as 43 points from the first 16 games in a season (3 pts for a win) after Tottenham (1960-61), Chelsea (2005-06), Man City (2017-18) and Liverpool (2019-20). Pacesetters. pic.twitter.com/y1GYJRQ7IJ
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 31, 2022
Merson believes the title battle is already a two-hose race between Arsenal and City, with his backing going to the Gunners despite Pep Guardiola’s champions remaining favourites with the bookmakers.
“I think they’ll beat Newcastle,” Merson said to Sky Sports. “They’ve just won two games, scored seven goals, confidence is high.
“They’ve won every game at home this season in the league – that’s some doing.
“Arsenal are good to watch, it’s not a fluke. You’ve got to look at Man City, they’ve lost at home to Brentford and drawn at home to Everton who are on a bad run.
“They are two games City are expected to win. That’s five points dropped. I don’t see anyone stopping Arsenal at the moment.”
Wins over West Ham and Brighton since the World Cup break have delighted Merson, as Arsenal bid to win a first league crown since their ‘Invincibles’ team tasted success in 2004.
He added: “When we stopped for the World Cup you thought this could only harm Arsenal. They were flying. They’ve come back and scored seven goals in two games.
“They’ve got a platform, it’s in their hands. I know there’s a long way to go, but there are big teams in this league who can’t win it – Chelsea, Liverpool, Tottenham, probably Man United.
“It’s out of Arsenal and Man City unless the other teams go on the most extraordinary run you’ve ever seen in Premier League history.
“Who goes to Brighton and scores four goals? Arsenal are playing great football and at the moment, they’re the best team in the country and the number one team.
“They’ve given themselves a little gap where they can afford to lose a few games. Man City are not going to win every game, so Arsenal are right in this, I couldn’t talk highly enough about them.
“This is not a fluke, they are where they are because they are a very good football team.
“They went to Old Trafford and got beat, and I didn’t think they deserved to. There are ways of losing matches and they bounced back.
“The other night, they went 1-0 down to West Ham and they came back and brushed them aside.”