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Paul Merson says loser of Arsenal vs Manchester United won't finish in top four

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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer takes his side to the Emirates for a crucial game in the top-four race on Sunday
Image: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer takes his side to the Emirates for a crucial game in the top-four race on Sunday

It's top-four or bust as Arsenal face Man Utd this Sunday, says Paul Merson, who thinks whoever loses will miss out on a Champions League spot.

Fourth-placed Manchester United hold the advantage in the race for a place in next season's Champions League as it stands, sitting a point and a place above Arsenal, although Chelsea have a game in hand against out-of-form Brighton which could catapult them back into the qualification places.

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer suffered his first defeat to PSG
Image: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has won nine out of nine on the road with Manchester United - an all-time club record for consecutive away wins

So the two going head-to-head live on Sky Sports this weekend will be a winner-takes-all affair, according to Merson, who thinks whoever holds a Champions League spot by the end of the weekend will be able to keep until the end of the season.

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"I think a lot of the top-four race goes down to this game on Sunday," he said. "That's why it's a massive football match, whoever loses won't be in the top four.

"But if Arsenal lose they've still got a chance in the Europa League. People are telling me Manchester United could go on and win the Champions League, I'm not sure about that."

Image: Arsenal come into Sunday's game on the back of a disappointing 3-1 Europa League loss in Rennes

Both Arsenal and Manchester United could qualify without the need for a top-four spot, as they are still competing in the Europa League and Champions League respectively - and will make the cut if they win those competitions regardless of where they finish.

Arsenal v Man Utd
Arsenal v Man Utd

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Merson said both could follow in the footsteps of United's path to qualification back in 2017, when they finished sixth but reached the Champions League after winning the Europa League, but should not write off their league prospects before this weekend.

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He said: "I think it's the same for Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal, the longer you stay in these tournaments you can get into the scenario of what Manchester United did the other year - they stayed in the Europa League and put all their eggs in that basket and couldn't get in the top four.

"I think it's important for Arsenal and Chelsea to do that at the moment. I think Arsenal will go through, I think they'll have far too much for them in the second leg but there's some very good teams still left in it."

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