LONDON. — Paul Merson says Arsenal must part company with Arsene Wenger if Leicester or Tottenham win the English Premier League soccer title this season.
Arsenal are five points behind leaders Leicester and three points behind Spurs with 11 games to play, following Sunday’s 3-2 defeat at Manchester United.
Arsenal boss Wenger signed no senior outfield players last summer and former player Merson says he must pay for that decision with his job if they lose out in the title race to a team with less financial muscle.
“If Man City don’t win the league and Tottenham or Leicester do then Arsene Wenger has to go,” he told Sky Sports.
“If you’re sitting there telling those fans — loyal Arsenal fans — that they don’t need any new players at the start of the season and then you don’t win the league in front of Leicester or Tottenham then I don’t see how you can justify it. If Man City win the league he can turn around and say ‘they’ve got all the money in the world and can go and buy whoever they want, so would whoever I bought have made much difference?’
“But if Leicester or Tottenham win the league after he said they didn’t need any players then I don’t see how he can keep his job.”
Graeme Souness described Arsenal’s performance against an injury-hit United side as a “bordering on a joke” on Super Sunday and Merson agreed with that assessment.
And he said Wenger must take responsibility for failing to motivate his players as they enter the final weeks of the season.
“Arsenal had 12 cup finals to play,” Merson added.
“But they went out on Sunday with an attitude of ‘it’s only Man United and they’ve got loads of injuries and kids playing, so we’ll breeze through this game’. It just frustrates me and it absolutely does my head in. People point to the players, but the manager has to get the players up for these games. Man United might be fifth and not having a good season, but it’s still Man United in front of 75 000 people.”
Wenger has guided Arsenal to a top-four finish in each of his 19 seasons in charge — and they remain seven points clear above Manchester United in fifth.
But Merson says there are plenty of other managers who could achieve Champions League football with Arsenal. He said: “People may say there’s nobody better than him, but there’s a thousand managers who could come in and get Arsenal in the top four. A thousand managers would come to Arsenal and say ‘don’t give me a penny, but if I get Arsenal in the top four then pay me 10 million quid’.
“Every football manager in the world would take that deal. Arsenal are always going to get in the top four.
“If Leicester or Tottenham win the title then I just don’t see how he can keep his job.”
And former Arsenal midfielder Ray Parlour believes a lack of on-field leaders was to blame for the Gunners’ loss at Manchester United. The weekend loss was a costly one and drew some fierce criticism from Souness, who described Arsenal’s performance at Old Trafford as “totally unacceptable” and said they “bordered on being a joke” in the 3-2 defeat.
Parlour feels there was a clear absence of leadership during the display and that the title advantage may now be with Tottenham.
“I didn’t see anyone on that pitch demanding more from the players,” he said. — Sky Sports.