Paul Merson has humbly acknowledged his erroneous prediction about Tottenham Hotspur’s performance in the recent North London Derby. Merson initially anticipated that Spurs would be “ripped to shreds” in the encounter, but the match unfolded quite differently.
“I’m really pleased. They’re a top side, it’s a tough place to come, not much went our way today,” the manager remarked. “We conceded an unlucky own goal, then a VAR penalty, so it’s not like everything was falling in our favor as well. Just a real character and resilience the boys showed, a real belief in the kind of team we want to be, even though there were times today when it was difficult to do that. They just kept persevering and persevering, and that’s a credit to them.”
Leading up to the derby, there was considerable hype surrounding the clash between two undefeated opponents. However, Merson held a contrary view, boldly asserting that Arsenal would “slaughter” Spurs. In his pre-match comments, he declared, “I’m bullish, very bullish. I can’t see anything other than an Arsenal win, I really do. I think they’ll absolutely slaughter them. I think they’ll absolutely rip them to shreds.”
As events unfolded, it became evident that Merson’s prediction was wide of the mark. Maddison and Son’s performance ensured that Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal didn’t leave with all three points. Subsequently, Merson has publicly apologized, acknowledging that he underestimated Postecoglou’s Tottenham.
“No, no, I was very bullish with Arsenal,” Merson admitted during an appearance on Sky Sports’ Soccer Saturday. “I thought Tottenham would come out very gung-ho, actually go toe-to-toe with Arsenal like they had been in games this season. In the first 30 minutes, I thought it looked a bit like the [Jose] Mourinho or [Antonio] Conte team, they sat back, couldn’t keep the ball, played so defensively. Arsenal scored a fortunate own goal and then have a chance with [Gabriel] Jesus to go 2-0, if that goes it, they’ll go onto win the game so, so easily it would’ve been ridiculous. But they don’t, and fair play to Tottenham, I’ll hold my hands up.”
Merson also praised Tottenham’s composure and ball-handling skills, admitting that he had underestimated their capabilities. In his concluding remarks, he added, “I thought they had more composure on the ball than Arsenal did when they had it, so fair play to Spurs, I’ll hold my hands up. Did I get it wrong? Of course, everyone gets things wrong all the time!”