Sky Sports pundit offers his verdict after Arsenal fight back to claim north London derby draw, Liverpool remain perfect and Leicester lead the top-six chase
Monday 2 September 2019 23:01, UK
In his weekly column, Paul Merson highlights a hangover from Arsene Wenger that almost cost Unai Emery and Arsenal the north London derby, salutes the unprecedented level Liverpool continue to reach and explains why Leicester look the best of the rest.
The north London derby was a great spectacle, a proper game, and Arsenal would have taken a draw when they were two goals down. But has anything changed at Arsenal? I don't think so.
Arsenal were commended for not collapsing at Liverpool the week before, credit where credit's due, but nothing has changed. It's like Unai Wenger is running things at the moment.
Every time Tottenham broke they looked like they were going to score, Arsenal were that open. The midfield issues were serious.
You've got Granit Xhaka who goes around kicking people and getting booked. Yes, Matteo Guendouzi found a great pass for the equaliser, but you cannot rely on him or Lucas Torreira to thread the ball through the eye of a needle on a consistent basis.
In Xhaka, Guendouzi and Torreira, Arsenal have three players who are not creative. They are three holding players, but every time Tottenham broke, they had the freedom of the Emirates. I couldn't believe what I was watching. It was reminiscent of when Arsene Wenger was managing.
Arsenal's front three are as good as any in the Premier League, on a par with Manchester City and Liverpool without a doubt, but great attackers rely on service. It doesn't matter how good you are, if you're not getting the ball you're not going to score. It's a simple as that.
Does the north London derby show Arsenal are more unsettled than Spurs?
A large portion of Raheem Sterling's goals are close-range tap-ins because of Manchester City's ability and vision to find him in good positions. You can't imagine that happening at Arsenal, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette and Nicolas Pepe have to do everything themselves.
With a lack of service Arsenal are reliant on their strikers scoring brilliant goals week in, week out, but that's not going to happen all the time and that's going to be the problem.
Unai Emery has missed a trick with a midfield player. The only solution I see would be to play the front three with Mesut Ozil in the hole behind them and have two holding in front of the back four. The four attackers can get on with scoring goals and then the rest can try and keep them out at the other end.
I don't feel the need to respond to Mauricio Pochettino's comments in the week. My opinion was my opinion. It was nice he listened. At least he didn't say 'Paul Merson who?'
Don't get me wrong, I fancied Arsenal to win but Tottenham are still a very good side and played well, but they will be kicking themselves.
You cannot be happy with letting a two-goal lead slip in the north London derby, especially with the way Arsenal defended. It looked like Spurs would pick them off and score three or four, but their final pass wasn't good enough at crucial stages of the game.
The positive for Spurs is that they've got tough trips to Manchester City and Arsenal out of the way and drawn them both.
Tottenham have not been themselves but the closing of the transfer window could change that. Mauricio Pochettino will be hoping to get his Spurs back now, writes Adam Bate.
After falling over the line against Aston Villa and losing to Newcastle, the challenge now is to be tuned in for every game. That's what it's all about when you're a good team.
I'm scratching my head as to what more Liverpool have to do.
They've just won their 13th straight match and made a trip to Burnley look easy. Three or four years ago, clubs would be happy nicking a 1-0 win or holding out for a goalless draw at Turf Moor, but not this Liverpool team.
I played against the side that set Liverpool's previous record with 12 wins on the spin in 1990. They used to win game in, game out but, crucially, they won things. They won the league.
People talk about timing. At several points in Premier League history Liverpool would have won it easily, but there is a Manchester City side that are as phenomenal as they are.
All Liverpool can do is keep doing what they're doing, keep on winning, worry about themselves and make sure they keep City honest. If that fails, all you can do is hold your hands up.
Aren't Leicester looking decent? Brendan Rodgers is a top manager and he has some good players at his disposal that he's got clicking. Leicester haven't played any of the big boys yet, but they've done what they've had to do.
They're not in the Europa League and are playing just one game a week, so if Rodgers can keep his squad fit all season, they are the front-runners to break into the top six, there's no doubt about it.