Paul Merson believes everybody associated with Arsenal has become accustomed to damaging defeats.
The Gunners’ inconsistent start to the season continued on Monday night as they fell to a 1-0 defeat away at newly-promoted Sheffield United.
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- Arsenal won three Premier League titles and seven FA Cups under Arsene Wenger.
- They are also the only team to go a full Premier League season unbeaten in 2003/04.
- But in recent years, they’ve been criticised for becoming something of a soft touch.
- The Gunners were beaten 1-0 by Sheffield United on Monday – their 17th defeat under Emery.
- Merson believes these damaging defeats have become widely accepted among those associated with the club.
That result leaves the once-perennial title challengers fifth in the Premier League table, already 10 points behind leaders Liverpool after just nine games.
The Gunners are also competing outside the Champions League for the third consecutive season after losing the 2018/19 Europa League final 4-1 to Chelsea.
And Merson believes this type of result has become widely accepted with Arsenal nowadays, while he also suggested that manager Unai Emery has failed to improve the team since taking over from Arsene Wenger last year.
“It was normal, wasn’t it? I don’t know what anybody expected. This is Arsenal now. It’s just lacklustre. There’s no urgency,” he told Sky Sports.
“It’s accepted. Nobody is going to work this morning and saying: ‘Oh my God, did you see Arsenal getting beat by Sheffield United?’ Those days are gone. It’s accepted through the club, the fans, the manager, everyone.
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“What has improved? Really, what has improved? Not a lot, at all.”
‘No can openers’
Among the supposed “Big Six”, only Chelsea (464) have played fewer passes into the final third than Arsenal (476) in the Premier League this season and Merson believes the Gunners’ lack of a decisive midfield creator is making them too easy to defend against.
“There’s nobody in that midfield who can open up a can,” he added. “No matter how bad Arsenal are, everybody will come and sit 10 behind the ball against Arsenal, bar a couple of the big boys.
“Therefore you need special players in midfield to open things up. They haven’t got that pass, that eye-of-the-needle pass.”