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Paul Merson.

Paul Merson thinks five Tottenham players will leave if they don't beat Arsenal

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Nobody is denying that Saturday's North London Derby could have a huge effect on Arsenal and Tottenham's respective seasons.

Thanks to the benefit of the early kick-off, Mauricio Pochettino's men will overtake Manchester United into second, at least temporarily, if they take three points off their bitter rivals.

As for Arsenal, they are already falling behind the pack in sixth.

The Gunners haven't beaten Spurs in the league since March 2014 and if that run continues, it's going to be hard for them to deny they're no longer the dominant force in the area.

It says a lot that Paul Merson's combined XI ahead of the derby features just three Arsenal players, and even that's probably being a little generous.

The former England international and TV pundit suggested that out of Arsene Wenger's current group, only Sead Kolasinac, Laurent Koscielny, and Alexandre Lacazette could justify a place.

That was as far as his flattery of Spurs went, however, as he then proceeded to make a very bold claim about the significance of the game.

According to Merson, lose this one fixture, and no less than five of Pochettino's star men will leave. Right...

Merson warns five could leave

"It's a big game for Tottenham though," he told Sky Sports.

"If they don't win I look at [Christian] Eriksen, [Dele] Alli, the centre-backs [Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen], and Harry Kane and I think they will move on at the end of the season. Real Madrid and Barcelona will be calling. It's a big season for Tottenham, they could be dismantled otherwise.

"I also worry for Mauricio Pochettino too. He is one of the most sought-after managers in world football and I don't see how he turns down Real Madrid if they come calling."

Tottenham Hotspur v AFC Bournemouth - Premier League

Most Tottenham fans will be finding this narrative a little tired now. For each of the last two summers, their key men have been linked with moves away and yet they've largely managed to keep their squad in tact.

Merson was equally foreboding in his assessment of Wenger, claiming it could be the end of the road for the Frenchman if his side are thrashed.

"If Tottenham win this by three or four I can't see anyway back for Wenger. Forget about the FA Cup and winning that, if they get beat by three or four I think he could go 'that's it, I might as well leave'," he added.

Extreme stuff. Realistically, all that's really on the line at this stage of the season are local bragging rights.

What do you make of Merson's comments? Have your say in the comments. 

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Topics:
Arsenal
Football
Tottenham Hotspur
Christian Eriksen

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