Arsenal suffered a humiliation in London last night as they were defeated 3-0 by Crystal Palace.
Patrick Vieira has had a stellar start to his managerial career at Palace, leading the Eagles to ninth in the Premier League, last night’s win pushing his side above Southampton, Aston Villa and Leicester City.
For Arsenal, on the other hand, this is yet another example of the Gunners’ inconsistencies this season and the result is sending them further away from a Champions League place.
Currently sitting fifth in the league, Arsenal needed to utilise the two games they had in hand over fellow London rivals Tottenham Hotspur if they were to pinch fourth in the Premier League.
Now they only have one game in hand that can separate them from Antonio Conte’s side. Maybe if they had had their former player Vieira on the pitch rather than in the opponent’s dugout, a different result may have occurred but instead Jean-Philippe Mateta, Jordan Ayew and Wilfried Zaha secured a stunning victory for the Eagles.
Former Arsenal player Paul Merson had initially countered Gary Neville’s suggestion that Arsenal’s season could end with the search for a new manager but after last night’s defeat, he may be hoping to backtrack his previous suggestions.
What did Gary Neville say?
At a Sky Bet event, the former Manchester United captain said: “I really like Mikel Arteta, I think he’s a brilliant coach. I think the team is fantastic in terms of the young players they’ve got.
“My concern is if Arsenal finish fourth this season - which, to be far, I think is 50/50, I still think there’s a long way to go in that race - but if they finish fourth, that’s in some ways as good as it gets.
“You’ve got Pep (Guardiola), (Jurgen) Klopp, Man United, Chelsea - where can Arsenal go? They’re not going to compete.
“Mikel Arteta is a brilliant coach. I love that we’re seeing a team that he’s getting the maximum out of - I can see exactly how he wants to play, we all can.
“But he gets to fourth and if he was really hard about it, he’d probably say ‘right, that’s the best I can do there, I’m going now and getting my next job’.”
What was Paul Merson’s response?
Paul Merson played for Arsenal from 1985-1997, amounting 327 league appearances in the process and has defended his former club’s current manager saying that he believes Arteta is ‘building a team’ that could challenge titles in the next few years, especially if Guardiola or Klopp were to leave Liverpool.
When asked if he shares Neville’s concerns, Merson spoke to Sky Sports saying: “Not really, not with the team he’s got. I think he’s building a team at Arsenal.
“If you were looking at the team and they were all 30, you’d think you might need to jump here. You’ve done your job, get out.
“But this team is only going to get better and better. I think they’ll go again in the summer transfer window, buy young players again, and a new centre-forward.
“I think they are in a cycle. In a couple of years’ time, Klopp and Guardiola probably won’t be at Liverpool and Man City.
“Chelsea will be a force for the next couple of years but when players’ contracts start running out, I’m not sure how they will be able to sustain it (under new owners).
“So you’ve got to wait and be patient if you’re Arsenal and Arteta.”
When is Arsenal’s next match?
Arsenal will host Brighton on Saturday 9 April 2022 and attempt to secure three points they should have earned last night.