Arteta ‘trust’ issue with £34m star leaves Arsenal ‘a long way off’ Premier League title

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta looks stern Credit: Alamy
Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta looks stern Credit: Alamy

Arsenal remain a “long way off being title contenders” according to Paul Merson, who claimed Mikel Arteta’s lack of “trust” is holding them back.

The Gunners are currently five points clear at the top of the Premier League having won 14 of their 17 top flight games this season.

And Merson reckons Arteta’s lack of options on the bench, as well as his lack of “trust” in £34m summer signing Fabio Vieira is a problem at the Emirates.

“Arsenal have done amazingly but they are a long way off being title contenders, in my opinion,’” Merson told Sky Sports. “Just look at that Newcastle game. They couldn’t bring anybody on when they needed to change it.

“There’s nobody on the bench bar Fabio Vieira, who Mikel Arteta paid £34m for and doesn’t seem to trust. Then, two days after that game, Man City are looking like they might draw against Chelsea, but they just bring on Grealish and Mahrez and one crosses it, one scores.

“That showed the quality Pep Guardiola has to work with and I just don’t see how Arsenal are going to be able to live with Man City over a period where there are 60-odd points up for grabs.

“Arsenal would have to take four points off Man City in those two games to have absolutely any chance of winning it. Otherwise, I just don’t see how Arsenal are going to do it.”

Arsenal are working to strengthen their attacking options in January and are reportedly closing in on a deal for long-term target Mykhaylo Mudryk.

Arsenal have agreed personal terms with Mudryk, who has made his desire to join the Gunners clear in recent weeks.

He’s ‘insisting’ on a quick resolution as talks continue between the two sides, according to Fabrizio Romano.

The transfer expert tweeted: ‘New direct contacts will take place in the next hours for Mudryk deal. Arsenal will discuss with Shakhtar about add-ons structure after £62m (€70m) bid plus £22.1m (€25m) #AFC.

‘Arsenal want to get it done as soon as possible, player insisting too – personal terms already agreed.’

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