Arsenal, who started the Premier League season with three consecutive defeats against Brentford, Chelsea and Manchester City, have since bounced back with wins over Norwich, Burnley and north London rivals Tottenham to ease pressure on boss Mikel Arteta.
The Gunners had a torrid run of injuries and illnesses during the early weeks of the campaign, with key players Ben White, Gabriel Magalhaes, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Thomas Partey among those to miss games.
With an almost clean bill of health, Merson now believes the Gunners can start to push up the league, but worries about them if they start to pick up injuries again.
‘If Arsenal keep those players fit and they play every week, they would have a chance of getting in the top four and cause problems. They have no Europe this season, so will have time to recover and work on the team,’ he wrote in his column for Sky Sports.
‘But this is Arsenal though and has been since they last won the league in 2004, since when they have never really looked like winning the league.
‘The game on Sunday was their bread and butter, but if they win away at Brighton on Saturday, then I will sit up. But if we talk next week and they have lost at the Amex, I would not be shocked. And that is the problem, they need to get a run of games together.’
‘This is a good XI, but if they get injuries, they are going to struggle as there is not much after that. But from what I’ve seen the last few weeks, fair play to them.
‘But how long with Thomas Partey be fit for? How long before Granit Xhaka gets five bookings and misses a game? And then an injury at centre back. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was closing down from the front and setting an example, but where has that been?
‘They have set themselves a yardstick now, they’ve put the bar there, now good teams stay at that level. I did not expect them to lose to Tottenham at all, as they have been very fortunate in their results so far.’
The Gunners travel to high-flying Brighton on Saturday, hoping to continue their fine run of form.