Paul Merson says that the fitness of America star Gabriel Jesus is vital in terms of Arsenal’s hopes of finishing in the top four in May.
The former Gunners playmaker thinks that his old club will finish in the top four, ahead of Tottenham and Manchester United – as it stands.
But he has suggested that Eddie Nketiah cannot be relied upon to score the goals to keep Arsenal flying high if Jesus gets injured.
The 25-year-old has swiftly settled into life at Arsenal, and is a huge upgrade on their attacking options from last season.
Merson on Arsenal, top four and Jesus
He told SportsKeeda: “The race for the top-four spots in the Premier League is also tantalizingly poised, as things stand. With Thomas Tuchel gone, it’ll be interesting to see how Chelsea adapt to life under Graham Potter, as the former Brighton boss looks to stamp his authority at the club and kickstart a new project.
“Liverpool have been nowhere near as good as they were last season, but I still fancy them to secure a top-four finish. Judging by how the current campaign has unfolded, I think Arsenal will make it ahead of Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United, but a lot could change between now and the end of the season.
“Arsenal’s top-four chances look a lot better this season. The problem is, they went 2-1 down against Manchester United and Mikel Arteta immediately made three substitutions, which looked like a knee-jerk reaction to me at the time. They need to believe in themselves more and Arsenal didn’t play badly despite losing to Manchester United.
“If Gabriel Jesus gets injured, they have massive problems. Eddie Nketiah is a good lad, but playing and scoring every week is a different ball game. I don’t want to say too much, but Arsenal are in a good position to secure a top-four finish and I hope they can make it count this time.”
Merson’s comments closely echo what his Sky Sports colleague Gary Neville said not long after United beat Arsenal 3-1 last time out in the Premier League.
But Nketiah signed a new long-term deal at Arsenal in the summer hoping for gametime and would relish the responsibility up front.
Arteta will hope he can keep both strikers fit all season, which would be a huge boost for Arsenal, as they look to return to the Champions League.