In his latest Sky Sports column, the former Arsenal midfielder named the teams he expects to finish inside the top four come May, but could find no room for either Jurgen Klopp’s men or the Red Devils.
Merson believes Manchester City will win the Premier League, but that Arsenal will push Manuel Pellegrini’s side all the way to the finish line. The 47-year-old also reckons Tottenham will clinch third place, with Chelsea completing the top four despite their disastrous start to the 2015-16 campaign.
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“It's a head-or-tales one here for me. If Chelsea play like they did against Stoke they'll win a lot of football matches,” Merson claims. “I know that sounds silly as they lost but their performance was so much better.
“Meanwhile, Manchester United never looked like scoring against West Brom until Jesse Lingard got them out of trouble with a stunner. You've got to go out to win football matches and they go out not to lose them.
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“Chelsea have a lot of points to make up but I can see them going on a run while United are capable of drawing too many games. There's still a long time for Chelsea to make up that gap and, while it's a hard, hard one to call, I fancy Chelsea to just to edge it.”
Chelsea have their work cut out
It’s certainly a bold prediction from Merson. Chelsea are currently languishing in 16th position in the Premier League table, having lost seven of their opening 12 matches.
Jose Mourinho is under severe pressure - although the Portuguese coach will not be sacked during the international break - and the bookmakers now price Chelsea at 100/1 to successfully defend their Premier League crown.
The Blues are currently 13 points behind fourth-placed Manchester United and six points behind Liverpool, who are in 10th position following their surprise 2-1 defeat to Crystal Palace last weekend.
If this happens, Van Gaal will be sacked...
Chelsea have the quality at their disposal to still challenge for a top-four finish, but whether they can overhaul Manchester United is a completely different matter.
One thing’s for sure: if Chelsea did finish above United and the Red Devils failed to secure Champions League football for next season, it would almost certainly spell the end for Van Gaal.
Paul Merson’s top-four prediction
1. Manchester City
Football fans: what do you make of Paul Merson’s latest prediction? Have your say by leaving a comment in the box below!