Paul Merson Says: My big Chelsea Premier League prediction
Merson also looks at how 10-man Tottenham's display against Southampton has proved times have changed in football
Last Updated: 02/10/19 12:05am
Paul Merson says it was actually Chelsea who emerged the real winners from Manchester United's draw with Arsenal - and reckons Frank Lampard's side could dominate English football in the next few years.
Chelsea the real winners on MNF
There is a long way to go. The teams you are asking to finish in the top six - Leicester and West Ham - it is a big ask for them. Certain players have to stay fit for them, so I think it is between Chelsea, United and Arsenal who will finish in the top four.
The cream always comes to the top - they (United and Arsenal) are not playing well at the moment, but over 38 games, you are asking Leicester and West Ham to do something special the way the gulf is at the moment.
There is not going to be a lot between Chelsea, United and Arsenal, so fourth to sixth could be six points. It is not going to be like it has been over the years where the top four are 10-15 points ahead of everybody else.
Chelsea are a younger team, they have youth on their side. I am not saying it is a shoo-in they will finish in the top four this season, and if they do not, it is not the end of the world for Chelsea.
But for the other teams, it could be a bit of a problem. I would probably say Arsenal, but only just (to make the top four). There were two nervous football teams at Old Trafford on Monday night with a lot of pressure on them. They could not handle the pressure very well and it was a very hard game to watch.
The future is Chelsea
From a distance it looks like Chelsea have been planning this season for the last five years. I'm not sure whether this is the greatest plan ever or whether they stumbled across it, either way they are looking good.
It's the stuff of dreams; Frank Lampard retires, takes the job at Derby, Chelsea will get a transfer embargo and then all of the kids that have been ripping it up on loan return to the club and everything falls into place.
In two or three years' time, this Chelsea team will be dictating the Premier League, mark my words. All of their young players would have played 100-odd games together by then and, if they continue in the same vein, their countries too.
Kepa is a good young goalkeeper. The best compliment I can pay him is that if you were sitting next to him in a restaurant you wouldn't know who he was. That tells you how many mistakes he makes, he doesn't make a lot. He just does his job, goes home and then comes back and does his job again.
In two or three years' time, this Chelsea team will be dictating the Premier League, mark my words
There's Reece James, who will be in the first team sooner rather than later, he's a proper player. Fikayo Tomori is very good, just look at how he handled Mohamed Salah last week. There's Ruben Loftus-Cheek who is yet to come back, Ross Barkley, who plays for England already, Mason Mount, Tammy Abraham and Callum Hudson-Odoi.
What makes it all the more remarkable is that if Chelsea weren't under a transfer embargo, most of the young players we're seeing would probably be on loan, and Chelsea wouldn't be relishing the bright future that's in front of them.
PL record out of Reds' reach?
With Leicester, Manchester United and Tottenham up next for Liverpool, it's going to be a big ask for Jurgen Klopp's side to break Manchester City's record of 18 consecutive Premier League wins.
Leicester are flying at the moment, are full of confidence and play in a manner that can cause Liverpool problems. They should rinse Manchester United on paper, but you know it won't necessarily be that easy, and then another tough game against Spurs.
Those games come in and around some crucial Champions League games and an international break, and Europe surely takes precedence at this stage for Liverpool after they lost to Napoli in the opening game.
Liverpool were absolutely outstanding in the first half against Chelsea, but they are not going to be able to maintain that level of performance all the time. We saw that at Stamford Bridge where they rode their luck a good few times and the same thing happened at Sheffield United.
You cannot keep riding your luck, I didn't see Liverpool riding their luck too many times last season, if ever.
The positive thing for Liverpool is that I just don't see them losing a game to any side in the bottom half, so if they win those three matches, they will keep on ticking the tough games off, and before you know it there won't be many more to tick off.
Were they to do that, it would go a long way to ending their 30-year wait for the title.
Tottenham show times have changed
There's a lot going on a Spurs at the moment but boy was that a good result. It just goes to show you how much football has changed over the years.
When I was playing, if you went down to 10 men that was the end of your chances of getting a win, you may have hung on for a draw. But in the last two weeks we've seen two sides go down to 10 men, one when they were already losing and the other when the scores were level, and both went on to win the match.
It's phenomenal how fit modern-day players are but from a Southampton perspective, it's disgraceful losing in those circumstances. Fair play to Tottenham, even at this early stage their season was on the line and they dug a result out.
Top-six hopes hinge on Vardy
Brendan Rodgers hasn't even been a Leicester a year and he's already improved that squad 10-fold. There isn't one player that has gone backwards since his arrival, every one of them looks a better player. There will be a lot of clubs sitting up and thinking they missed a trick not trying to get Rodgers in, he's very good.
It's going to be hard for Leicester to break into the top six. Jamie Vardy is going to have to play every game, but if he gets injured who will come in for him? That's the problem over a 38-game season, a major problem.