Speaking in his Sky Sports column, Paul Merson believes Manchester United are out of the title race after just five games, with only Liverpool and Arsenal able to compete with Manchester City at the top of the table.
United were beaten 3-1 by Brighton on Saturday, meaning Erik ten Hag’s side have lost three out of their opening five Premier League matches to begin the campaign, and lie nine points behind Manchester City.
Pep Guardiola’s treble winners have five wins from five at the top of the table and have a two-point lead over Liverpool, Arsenal and Tottenham. The latter two teams face off in a pulsating north London derby on Sunday afternoon, with kick-off at 2pm.
Meanwhile, Chelsea have only one win to start the season following their 0-0 draw against Bournemouth on Super Sunday.
Read below for the Magic Man’s thoughts…
Man Utd out of the title race already
Liverpool and Arsenal are the only contenders for Manchester City this season.
Liverpool were poor against Wolves first half, really poor. But they came out in the second half and blew Wolves away. The problem is you can’t be doing that against the better teams. You don’t want to be going to the Emirates or the Etihad and playing like that, the game would be all over in the first half.
You’ve just got to stick with Man City for as long as you can. Every game that goes by, you have to make sure you’re three points away from them, tops.
For example, Manchester United are already nine points behind. They’re finished. Done. They can’t win the league – because it’s Man City. If it’s any other team you can go, ‘oh if you put a run together, you never know.’ But City are not losing four or five games.
You have to start well. Look at Arsenal last season. Look at when Jose Mourinho won the league at Chelsea. He always started well, always.
The title race used to start in December and January – and it was about who had the best run after that. Now Man City have blown it out of the water. You can’t fall behind.
Arsenal haven’t really got going and they’ve won four and drawn one. Everybody is like that, even Man City are not perfect. Fulham had chances against them, West Ham had them on the rack the other day. They were 1-0 up and Ederson was there making world-class saves.
But if Arsenal lose their two big games, they won’t win the league, it’s as simple as that. If they lose to Tottenham and Man City, then they’re out of the title race by the start of October.
Last season, if Arsenal had won one of those games against Manchester City – and they had them on the ropes in that home game in February – then they would have won the league.
Jamie Carragher said Brighton worked out how to beat Manchester United. Now it’s about how you beat Man City. That’s the name of the game for everybody.
I worry for Chelsea, they’ve won once in an easy start
We’re going into the sixth game of the season this week and Mauricio Pochettino doesn’t know his best Chelsea team. It’s been the case at the club for the last 18 months to two years. And that is worrying.
They’ve just got too many players. If you could predict Arsenal and Man City’s team for the weekend, you might be one away if you’re unlucky. You could turn up at Chelsea and ask 100 fans for the best team, not one of them would get it right. There’s no settled team or certain way of playing together.
I didn’t get Mykhailo Mudryk starting against Bournemouth. I didn’t get Ben Chilwell not starting – for me you’ve got to go for him in my opinion.
But I like Nicolas Jackson, actually. He makes good runs but there was one shot that summed it up in the second half where he hit the stand, which was fortunate as that’s how wide it was.
There’s a lot of pressure for a young lad who was playing in Spain and now is spearheading a team who is expected to win football matches because of the money they spent. I don’t think it’s fair on him, so I’d definitely give him more time. Though Pochettino would take him out of the firing line if he could.
I do worry, Chelsea have got to get going. And this hasn’t been the hardest start in the world. Apart from Liverpool on the opening day, every team they’ve played could finish in the bottom half of the table. Maybe that’s harsh on West Ham given the way they’ve started. But Bournemouth, Luton, Nottingham Forest – if they’re not in the bottom six or seven, I’d be shocked.
So far, Chelsea have won one game – against Luton – and you’re wondering when they’re going to win a football match. I watched them on Friday Night Football against West Ham last week and thought: ‘who is the first team they’re going to beat?’
It’s not like Chelsea have had Newcastle’s start, then you’d understand. You’d think: ‘we’ve got the big boys out the way and it didn’t work well but now we have to make some promising signs’. Bar Liverpool at home, every team finished in the bottom half last season. Pochettino needs to get it together.
I read an article the other day which was about Chelsea being put together to get 100 points in a season. This team won’t get 100 points, not even in two, three or four years. They just won’t.