Arsenal going nowhere amid confidence crisis, says Paul Merson
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer reverts to type to restore Man Utd mojo, Liverpool swagger on the south coast and pressure mounts on Manuel Pellegrini, says former Gunners forward
Last Updated: 10/12/19 6:56pm
Paul Merson refuses to let a positive result mask over another abject Arsenal performance, salutes Ole Gunnar Solskjaer for staying true to himself and lauds leaders Liverpool who continue to set such an unrelenting pace.
What's going on at Arsenal?
Arsenal's win at West Ham papered over huge cracks at the club. Don't let the late turnaround fool you, Arsenal are heading nowhere.
I've never seen a game like it. It comes back to the same old thing - confidence, confidence, confidence. It sums up the situations Arsenal find themselves in at the moment, and West Ham for that matter.
If you're not winning football matches your confidence goes, it's the worst feeling in the world. It doesn't matter how good you are as a player, when the confidence goes, that's it.
When Arsenal turned to Freddie Ljungberg, they wanted him to come in and steady the ship. They would have thought 'we're not going anywhere, we're not going to get relegated and we can save a few quid'.
But, all of a sudden, a couple of dodgy performances and it's panic stations. I just don't know where they go next.
The case for Chris Wilder
There is talk about the former Valencia manager, Marcelino, coming to Arsenal.
Sheffield United won't thank me for saying this but what does Chris Wilder have to do to get in the conversation for these big jobs? It's almost as if he doesn't exist.
He has been absolutely outstanding, earned his stripes and then he gets overlooked by a manager that has just been sacked by Valencia.
Football management is the only job in the world where you get sacked and walk straight into another job. The mind boggles.
Pressure piling on Pellegrini
West Ham go to Southampton next time out and there's no doubt about it, Manuel Pellegrini is under pressure. Having said that, he was under pressure when he went to Chelsea and they won quite comfortably. Football is a funny game.
For large parts of the Monday Night Football, Pellegrini would have been happy, West Ham went ahead and looked like they would at least get a draw. They looked like they were going to get a second goal, but Arsenal turned things around.
Managers lose confidence, it's horrible. I've been there at a lower standard and can sympathise with him, it's horrible.
Solskjaer has his mojo back
I watched Manchester United beat Tottenham and Spurs were well beaten. On the back of that, I half called the result at Manchester City. I thought if they could be tight, get people forward and counter-attack there would be goals in the game for United, because City cannot defend.
United played it perfectly, and I was pleased for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. It was a performance that reminded me of when he first got the job and when he would outthink opposition managers.
At times Solskjaer has lost confidence this season and played safe, but with his back against the wall he decided to do things his way in the last couple of games.
If you believe what the papers say, he was up against it for his job and probably thought 'if I'm going to go, I'm going to go doing things my way. We're going to have a go at Manchester City'.
Players have stepped up for Solskjaer over the past couple of weeks, too. Fred has been outstanding in midfield alongside Scott McTominay. Solskjaer has assembled a solid back four with two sitting in front and then four livewires in Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial, Daniel James and Jesse Lingard.
When you compare the performance at the Etihad to the one at Sheffield United, they all look like they are playing with confidence. Solskjaer has told his players to go out and enjoy themselves and in the last two games he's got his mojo back.
Are Chelsea catchable?
Can Manchester United catch Chelsea in fourth? 100 per cent! There's a long way to go. Chelsea are a young side and are going to have their ups and downs.
Spurs aren't going to be far away either now Jose Mourinho has been appointed. You've got Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham, Manchester United, four big football clubs, vying for what looks to be one spot in the top four.
Liverpool get their swagger back
For the first time this season, Liverpool played with that swagger we've come to expect from them. Yes, they've won virtually all of their games, but they've haven't performed to the highest level consistently this season.
But they went to Bournemouth, and no disrespect to Bournemouth, Liverpool made that match look like an FA Cup tie away at a League Two team, they were that good. Bournemouth give you a game at home, but it was a walk in the park for a much-changed Liverpool side.
I didn't think this Liverpool side could get away with making changes but in their last two games they've made plenty, won easily and scored eight goals. That tells you all you need to know.
A little respect for Leicester
I think we've all been a little bit disrespectful to Leicester recently. Every time we talk about the title race, we say it's over because Manchester City are 14 points behind Liverpool.
City are not going to catch Liverpool because I don't see Liverpool losing four games and City winning all of theirs. But you've got to start paying attention to Leicester.
If they can go to Etihad and get a result next week then it's game on because they still have Liverpool to play at home and Liverpool still have to go to Manchester City, who will get better as the season goes on.
I'm not saying Leicester will win the Premier League because Liverpool look uncatchable, but Leicester will chase them all of the way.