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Arsenal leapfrogging Tottenham, Steve Bruce delight, Crystal Palace pain – Paul Merson column

Tottenham are already out of the title race and they are now in danger of letting Arsenal become top dogs in north London again.

Think that’s rubbish with only three games played this season? Consider what they are up against in the title race.

Manchester City and Liverpool are two of the best teams in Europe.

Liverpool only lost one game last season and still finished second. Spurs lost 13, and they have already lost one at home to Newcastle this time round.

It’s actually amazing they managed to finish in the top four at all after losing that many games. Now they’ve given Liverpool a five-point head start after just three games.

Title race? They’re in a top four race at this rate.

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And if Arsenal beat them at the Emirates – where Spurs haven’t won a league game for years – does the pendulum start swinging in London again as well? Maybe.

It’s not a foregone conclusion any more that Tottenham finish above Arsenal. I wouldn’t have said that before the start of the season.

But I think Arsenal win this game. Tottenham are in a bit of disarray. It comes from the manager and it feeds into the players.

They fell over the line against Aston Villa and then Manchester City gave them the runaround because even though it was a draw, City had 30 shots on their goal.

Spurs never looked like scoring against Newcastle either and ended up losing even though they were at home.

I don’t see how they’re going to live with Arsenal. It’s too slow. Too predictable. That negativity from Pochettino has fed on to the pitch.

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I think Arsenal’s forward line will cause them all sorts of problems – especially with Jan Vertonghen out of the picture.

He’s been one of their best players for years but he’s not playing. Something’s happened there. Have words been said?

Harry Kane looks frustrated this season as well. He’s coming so short all the time to receive the ball because he isn’t getting any service.

But that’s because Christian Eriksen isn’t playing. Without him, they don’t have enough vision. Moussa Sissoko is not going to play that killer ball that opens up a packed defence.

Harry Winks plays to deep to do it, he just keeps things ticking over nicely at the base of midfield, Erik Lamela has been awful, and Lucas Moura feels more like an impact player.

Who’s going to find Harry Kane?

Mauricio Pochettino has built this Spurs team into a very good team but it looks like they’ve gone backwards and that’s not good.

Mauricio Pochettino's Tottenham side look off the boil
Mauricio Pochettino’s Tottenham side look off the boil

They were Champions League finalists last season and they moved into one of the best stadiums in the world. But they look further away from winning the league than ever.

He’s a top manager but he’s getting frustrated and he’s letting it show. He’s always been a dream for Spurs because he never used to complain or rock the boat.

But it feels like there’s a lot of unrest now. If they get beat by Arsenal they are going to be in a battle for the top four.

They spent a lot of money this summer but the jury’s out on their new signings. Some of them have hardly played and they still look short in some areas.

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Some of the decision-making is strange. Not playing Eriksen because he hasn’t a signed a new contract has really hurt them. And Danny Rose is for sale – but he’s played every game!

There’s a real chance here for Arsenal to put some pressure on. I think they’ve started the season pretty well and their front three looks like a threat.

If they can get their act together this season there’s no reason why Arsenal can’t finish above them this season.

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Steve Bruce guided his Newcastle team to a shock 1-0 win at Tottenham

Steve Bruce deserved that win at Tottenham. I think he’s a top manager and I’m a huge fan of his.

Until it gets sorted up there with the owner, it’s always going to be messy. But it shouldn’t be Steve Bruce getting all the stick.

They lost in a horrible way at Norwich. But the players need to look at themselves for me. Did they put a shift in for the manager?

They did at Spurs. Fair play to them, they carried out his plan to the letter and they worked their socks off all game.

That’s all you can ask in that situation and it should do them the world of good. They showed they really are all behind the manager.

I just hope they don’t get into a situation where it’s all on Steve Bruce. The fans loved Rafa Benitez so much that it was never his fault when Newcastle lost last season.

Benitez did a good job there, but he never got the blame whenever anything went wrong. It would be a shame if the players let Steve Bruce take all the criticism now.

I think they will be alright. I like the new signing Joelinton. He was a handful at Spurs and looks like he has goals in him. And they have plenty of experience.

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Roy Hodgson’s Crystal Palace have got off to a topsy-turvy start

Crystal Palace must make Roy Hodgson tear his hair out because they can go from being so good one week to so bad the next.

How can you go and win at Old Trafford against Manchester United and then go out of the Carabao Cup at home to Colchester?

It must be a manager’s nightmare that kind of inconsistency.

They perform like that at Old Trafford and then a few days later they can’t break Colchester down. Their Achilles heel is they can’t score goals.

And now they’re trying to give Christian Benteke a new contract. That shows how desperate they are because he’s hardly been prolific.

I think they will see how it goes and if they’re in trouble they will have to go big in January for a striker – because they’ve got the money.

They banked £50m for Aaron Wan-Bissaka and they didn’t really spend much of it, did they? They kept their powder dry.

I think a lot of teams are doing the same thing, and when January comes around it could end up being a big window as they all start spending again.

Original article: https://www.dailystar.co.uk/sport/football/arsenal-leapfrogging-tottenham-steve-bruce-19110069

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