Paul Merson Says: Liverpool within touch of Premier League title

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Changing of the guard?
Image: Changing of the guard - are the days of Man City's colours on the Premier League trophy numbered?

Paul Merson says Liverpool can put one hand on the Premier League title if they beat Manchester City, explains why Unai Emery may be nearing the end at Arsenal and the outstanding candidate to replace the Spaniard at the Emirates...

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All eyes on Anfield

Liverpool and Manchester City were both on the floor against Aston Villa and Southampton but yet again they found the answer. Both clubs are relentless in their pursuit of the title but I don't see a way back for City if Liverpool win on Super Sunday.

Liverpool will move nine points clear with a win at Anfield and, as we saw at Villa Park, they simply don't know how to lose, so I just don't where they would lose three matches to let City back in.

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Liverpool's win over Aston Villa in the Premier League.

It's a massive football match. It's one where Liverpool would be happy with a draw, that would leave them six points clear having played against City. When you look at the way Liverpool are playing at the moment, scoring freely, I'd find it hard to look past them for the title if they won.

People say it's early in the season but that argument winds me up. The league starts in August, every game is of vital importance and if Liverpool move nine points clear it would probably be in City's best interest to turn their attention to winning the Champions League.

Sunday's game could be a straight shootout, and whoever misses first will lose the game. I cannot see Manchester City keeping Liverpool out, and I cannot see Liverpool keeping Manchester City out. I cannot see anything but goals, there's so much attacking talent on the pitch. If it's end-to-end there's only one winner in my opinion and that's Liverpool, their front three will have too much for City's current back four.

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Manchester City's win over Southampton in the Premier League.

Pep Guardiola is undoubtedly a great manager, but these are the kind of games where we really see what he's made of. Opening up the game could be fatal, as Liverpool have proved in the past, so he may have to alter his principles slightly, sit back, contain Liverpool. City don't have to win the match, it will be game on in the title race if they remain six points behind, but they cannot afford to lose.

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Emery approaching the end?

I read somewhere that Unai Emery was pleased with how Arsenal's 1-1 draw with Wolves panned out from a tactical perspective. If letting Wolves have 24 shots on goal was what he wanted, then yes, it went to plan.

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Arsenal's draw with Wolves in the Premier League.

But when you consider that was the most shots Arsenal have faced in a Premier League game since moving to the Emirates, I doubt whether that was his intention. That came after Arsenal conceded 31 shots away at Watford, who are rock bottom of the Premier League. That is some doing.

Emery is struggling and with a trip to Leicester on Saturday, he will do well to keep hold of his job if that goes against him. The gap is already six points to fourth place and Arsenal are in a situation where they can realistically only afford to lose two more game this season to keep pace with the teams ahead of them.

And, to make matters worse, the fans are turning, they are booing, making decisions and chanting 'you don't know what you're doing'. That's not good, especially ahead of the two-week international break, a break in which Emery's position will be under threat if they fall to the Foxes.

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Leicester better than 2016 champions

Leicester have been outstanding. They have an unbelievable manager. Brendan Rodgers has not added much to the squad he inherited from Claude Puel, but he's improved every single player at his disposal. He's getting a tune out of every single player, it's incredible.

I cannot speak highly enough of Rodgers. Chairmen up and down the country will be thinking 'how did we not get him?' This Leicester team were languishing in mid-table and going nowhere until Rodgers came in, and in less than 12 months he's got the whole squad are playing with confidence, they all know they are doing and look like a proper team.

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Leicester's win over Crystal Palace in the Premier League.

At 4.30pm on Saturday, when Liverpool and City were losing, Leicester were in the title race. That may be beyond them this season, but I'd go as far as saying that this current team is better than the side that won the Premier League in 2015/16. If they beat Arsenal on Saturday, they will be in the driving seat for the top four.

Rodgers has done so well that Leicester have a job on their hands keeping hold of him. If I were Arsenal, I'd be breaking the bank to get him, give him a five-year contract and sit back and watch him transform the club.

Things will only get better at Chelsea

Saturday's trip to winless Watford was a banana skin for Chelsea - Watford have to win a match at eventually - but the Blues keep on churning out results.

The job Frank Lampard is doing, he's getting a tune out of everyone. You've only got to look at Kovacic, who last season made you question whether he ever played for Real Madrid with his performances, but you watch him now and he looks like a proper player.

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Chelsea's win over Watford in the Premier League.

You've also got to remember that Chelsea's success has come without their key players; their best centre-back Antonio Rudiger and one of the best holding midfielders in the world in N'Golo Kante.

You look at Chelsea's squad and it's a good squad. They're young, so they will have their ups and downs, but they're enthusiastic and Lampard is leading them in the right direction.

VAR-cical

Gerard Deulofeu celebrates scoring from the penalty spot after play is delayed for a VAR check
Image: Gerard Deulofeu celebrates scoring from the penalty spot after play is delayed for a VAR check

It's hard to say what you really want to say about VAR, but the whole thing is on the verge of becoming embarrassing and needs sorting fast.

The time has come for the Premier League to get ex-professional players involved in the decision-making process, footballers with experience who can advise the referees, because some of the decisions are bordering on ridiculous.

The Gerard Deulofeu incident at Watford was laughable. He just fell over, tried his luck and low and behold, after a five-minute delay, he got a penalty.

The bar was set so high for VAR initially, but within two weeks its been lowered to a level that is scary.

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