Paul Merson sends strong message to Mikel Arteta after Sunday’s defeat

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Paul Merson has praised Mikel Arteta following Arsenal’s defeat to Chelsea and says he has been ‘quite impressed’ with the Gunners under their new manager.

Arteta is yet to taste victory as a Gunners boss, with his Arsenal side drawing to Bournemouth on Boxing Day and losing to Chelsea in Sunday’s London derby at the Emirates.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang gave Arsenal an early lead over Chelsea at the weekend but the visitors fought back and earned the three points thanks to late goals from Jorginho and Tammy Abraham.

Despite the defeat, Arsenal legend Merson was impressed with his former team’s performance and says they will be ‘alright’ under former Manchester City assistant Arteta.

‘For the first half against Chelsea, it didn’t look like Arsene Wenger was in charge. And that’s the biggest compliment I can give,’ Merson told Sky Sports.

‘They worked their socks off, but were never going to keep that up for 90 minutes, because they haven’t done that in 10 years.

‘That high pressure, closing down, Chelsea couldn’t get out or put two or three passes together. You looked at Arsenal in that first half and thought: “Well this is Arteta’s team”.

‘He’d got them closing down. But obviously, they were going to fade. Chelsea took advantage of that, and fair play to them.

‘As time goes on, however, and Arteta’s looks to place his stamp on the team, there are some bright sparks to take.

‘The fitter they get, and the more they understand that closing-down game, I think they’ll be alright, and I was quite impressed. ‘Arteta has been around one of the best, and he has that way of talking.

He’s not going to come in and start effing and blinding.’ After Sunday’s defeat, Arsenal slipped to 12th in the Premier League and will hope to make up points on the top-four when they host Manchester United on New Year’s Day

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