Sky Sports’ Paul Merson pens his latest column on Ross Barkley’s impressive form for Luton, Arsenal’s big win over Liverpool, and Chelsea’s season lurching from bad to worse…
Barkley a player-of-the-season contender
Luton won’t go down. They have come up and played like they are – Championship players with an unbelievable attitude. They have not come up and thought they are Premier League players now and tried to play like them, rolling it around at the back. They have been amazing.
Alfie Doughty is a very good player. The goalkeeper Thomas Kaminski makes good saves. Carlton Morris and Elijah Adebayo up front are a proper handful. They run the channels and close people down. Albert Sambi Lokonga has done well since he came in.
Ross Barkley is not far off player of the season. He’s turned it around. When he went to Chelsea from Everton, I thought it was a good signing. But he didn’t play in the same way, he played too safe and that wasn’t him. He was bought because he can pass and dribble. He’s gone back to expressing himself. He’s been outstanding.
Rob Edwards has been absolutely brilliant but if a job came up now, Vincent Kompany would get it before Edwards because he plays the ball around at the back.
Edwards has done it the right way. They know they can’t come up and pass everyone to death so they mix it up. They play at times but they also get the ball forward.
Edwards plays the way to get his team out of trouble. It might not look pretty but you’ve got to stay in the Premier League. Luton make you work for your goals. Kompany’s side shoots themselves in the foot every other game, but people will be raving about him because he plays a certain way of football.
Arsenal won their cup final so why not celebrate?
If Arsenal lost against Liverpool then they would be out of the Premier League title race. It was their cup final so why not celebrate?
I didn’t mind it. The pressure was on and Arsenal were playing against the in-form team in the country, who had been destroying teams.
If they go and lose at West Ham then they are back to square one and it’s a waste of time, but they have given themselves the opportunity in the title race.
Arsenal played with desire, energy and pace and did very well. Liverpool didn’t turn up but Arsenal made it hard for them.
It was a masterstroke by Mikel Arteta playing Jorginho. He keeps the ball, he has vision. He keeps it moving and breaks lines.
When Liverpool are at their best they close people down, win the ball high up the pitch. With Jorginho, they couldn’t nick it because he knows what he’s doing before he gets the ball. He was always one step ahead and more often than not, Arsenal broke the press and then they’re away to score goals.
But I don’t see who beats Man City to the title. They have missed probably the best player in the league Kevin De Bruyne and Erling Haaland has also been out. That’s a worry at best for the others. City are on for the treble again.
Chelsea go from bad to worse
It was bad against Liverpool but it got worse against Wolves. Losing 4-2 at home – no disrespect to Wolves – is not acceptable for Chelsea.
I started supporting Chelsea at age five. My first game was 50 years ago. I can’t remember us getting beaten conceding four twice in a row and, believe me, when I was growing up supporting Chelsea, we weren’t great. There are too many players that are not good enough.
Chelsea aren’t a team. I don’t know what the team will be on Wednesday night against Aston Villa. You know Arsenal or Liverpool will make one, maybe two changes, but with Chelsea, you just don’t know what the team will be.
Mauricio Pochettino has too many options but he hasn’t got too many good players. You have got two players in the middle of the park, Enzo Fernandez and Moises Caicedo, that cost over £200m. For that price, they should be dictating the game.
I can’t believe what’s happened and how quickly it’s turned. Chelsea were one of the top teams. I dread to think how long it was they went without losing at home.
I don’t give Chelsea a chance on Wednesday night, not even a chance. That can’t be right. When was the last time I ever said that as a Chelsea fan? It was only a few years ago that the other team would have no chance against Chelsea. Everyone would be surprised if they won that game.
There might be a bit of brilliance from Cole Palmer to win it but that will cover over the cracks.
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