Arsenal travel to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Thursday evening in the knowledge that a second win of the season over north London rivals Spurs will guarantee them Champions League football next season.
A strong recent run of form has seen the Gunners surge into the final qualification spot for Europe’s elite club competition – where they sit four points clear of fifth-placed Tottenham in the Premier League table with three games left to play.
After running out 3-1 winners at the Emirates back in September, Mikel Arteta’s men are hoping to wrap up a Champions League berth with a first top-flight double over their neighbours since 2013/14.
The general mood around the club is understandably far better than it was on Arsenal’s last visit to Spurs – when goals from Heung-min Son and Harry Kane saw the hosts to a 2-0 triumph.
Hopes of a positive result that day weren’t exactly high among Arsenal supporters, with their side struggling for form at the time.
However, there’s a big difference between seeing the writing on the wall and actually predicting what will happen to the letter.
That, though, is exactly what former Gunners playmaker – and Sky Sports pundit – Paul Merson managed to do 24 hours before the fixture in question.
Asked to get his views on the upcoming derby during an episode of Soccer Saturday, Merson didn’t hold back with his words.
“I know what’s going to happen tomorrow, said the retired midfielder, who made 327 appearances for the club across a 12-year spell.
“Arsenal will have the ball. Pass it around, they will pass it around, they won’t really hurt Tottenham. But they will pass it around.
“Then Harry Kane will get the ball. Son will make a run. He will be in. They’ll score and they’ll win the football match. I dread this football match. I dread it,” he admitted.
Of course, he was right to dread it. Eerily, he was also spot on with his prediction as to how Arsenal would concede.
North London derby: Can you name these completely forgettable Arsenal and Spurs players?
Less than 15 minutes into the match, the visitors surrendered possession after playing an aimless ball into the box.
Seconds later, Kane was rampaging forward with Son in support. The England captain then played the ball to his strike partner – just had Merson had predicted – before the South Korean delightfully whipped the ball past Bernd Leno from 25 yards to give his side the lead.
You can check out Merson’s unfortunate prediction and the Son strike that he perfectly foretold below.
Video: When Paul Merson perfectly predicted Son’s goal for Spurs in the north London derby – the day before it happened
Mystic Paul Merson perfectly predicted the North London derby outcome 🤯 pic.twitter.com/ns1tBhO59h— Soccer AM (@SoccerAM) December 13, 2020
We know pundits are supposedly paid for their expert analysis, but the accuracy here was just ridiculous!
Perhaps wisely, Merson has yet to make a similarly in-depth prediction for Thursday’s crunch encounter.
Arteta to surpass Conte? (Via The Football Terrace)