Mikel Arteta does not trust £34m Arsenal player, says Paul Merson
Merson has been speaking to Sky Sports about Arteta’s squad depth ahead of tomorrow’s north London derby clash with Tottenham.
He has compared Arteta’s options with Pep Guardiola’s at Manchester City and sees that as a real issue for the Gunners in the title race.
Recently, with Arsenal locked at 0-0 with Newcastle, Arteta did not bring on the Portuguese playmaker, and the game ended goalless.
Merson says Arteta does not fully trust Vieira
He said: “Arsenal have done amazingly but they are a long way off being title contenders, in my opinion.
“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.”
Vieira did get a start against Oxford United in the FA Cup third round on Monday night and actually set up two goals in that 3-0 win.
Oxford boss Karl Robinson described him as ‘outstanding‘ after that game, and his assists should boost Vieira’s confidence.
But there is a difference between helping see off a League One side and making a real contribution to a title charge and we will wait and see if Vieira can provide that.
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