Paul Merson tips Arsenal to finish fourth ahead of Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League next season.
The Gunners narrowly missed out on a Champions League place next season after finishing fifth in the table and two points behind bitter north London rivals last term.
Arsenal have decided to strengthen their squad this summer with the signings of Gabriel Jesus, Fabio Vieira, Marquinhos and Matt Turner as Mikel Arteta aims to return his side to the Champions League places for the first time since 2016.
However, Spurs have also been busy during the summer window, having brought in Ivan Perisic, Yves Bissouma, Fraser Forster, Richarlison and Clement Lenglet as the Lilywhites prepare for their first full season under Antonio Conte.
Former Arsenal midfielder Merson believes the Gunners could have the advantage in the race for the top four next season over their local rivals, mainly because Spurs will be competing at a high level in the Champions League.
Writing in his column for Sportskeeda, Merson said: “I will put Manchester United into the calculation for a top four spot because they are a huge club but they haven’t done enough business at this stage to stand a chance of getting Champions League football, so it should be between Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal.
“If I had to choose one of the two north London teams, I would have to choose Arsenal. Tottenham’s participation in the Champions League this season could be a problem for them because they will have a bunch of difficult games in the middle of the season. week to manage between their Premier League commitments.
“They don’t really have a big squad, which could make all the difference. Arsenal, on the other hand, should be able to manage their domestic commitments as the Europa League isn’t that high in terms of quality, at least compared to the Champions League.
Merson also revealed he was a “big fan” of Perisic signing from Tottenham and he is offering the 33-year-old Croatia international as one of Spurs’ key players next season.
Perisic scored eight goals and provided seven assists in 35 Serie A games for Inter Milan last season.
He continued: “I keep going on and on about this, but I’m a huge Ivan Perisic fan. This guy works as hard as anyone and has the talent to stand up to some of the best players in the world – it’s a recipe for a player.
“He’s an international footballer who works as hard as someone who’s moved from non-league football to the big leagues, which indicates he has the work ethic to complement his wonderful natural ability.
“Perisic has played for several top teams in Europe’s top five leagues and remains a key player for Croatia so I expect him to be a huge success for Tottenham.”
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