Paul Merson taunts Tottenham with a bullish Champions League prediction 

Paul Merson
Ian Walton/Getty Images

Paul Merson has insisted that Tottenham may as well try to finish third in their Champions League group and enter the Europa League as Antonio Conte’s men have ‘no chance’ of winning Europe’s premier club competition next season.

Spurs pipped Arsenal to the fourth spot on the final day of the season, thanks to their 5-0 demolition of Norwich.

Not many Tottenham fans would have thought a fourth-place finish would be a realistic target for the club when Nuno Espirito Santo was sacked at the end of October, which shows how much Antonio Conte has turned the Lilywhites’ fortunes around.

The Gunners were still overwhelming favourites to finish fourth going into the final three games of the season as they had a four-point cushion over Conte’s men.

However, back-to-back losses in the North London derby and against Newcastle consigned them to a season in the Europa League.

Merson admitted that Spurs are fortunate to have an elite manager in Conte but insisted that the club have no chance of going all the way in the Champions League.

The former Arsenal midfielder wrote in his column for The Daily Star: “Mikel Arteta needs to prove he can be an elite manager like Antonio Conte next season. But he must make a success of Arsenal’s biggest transfer window in years first. 

“Conte beat Arteta to a top-four spot. But it won’t hurt Arsenal watching Tottenham in the Champions League. This game is all about winning stuff.

“And let’s face it Spurs have no chance of winning that competition. Zilch. Get third in your group and try and win the Europa League. All it is, is a money-spinner, the Champions League. 

“Fair play to them though. Spurs did what they had to do. Played well. And got over the line. But they’ve got an elite manager. They’re very fortunate.

“How many clubs who aren’t winning the Premier League title, or at challenging for it, have an elite manager? It’s very rare. 

“Arteta is not an elite manager. You only become an elite manager over time. And he will be given time at Arsenal. So he has a chance. Elite managers just have that little bit more know-how. 

“Conte got rid of players they had signed for a lot of money, and he brought in great players. Dejan Kulusevski. Wow. That’s why he’s an elite manager. And Arteta could be too one day – but he needs another good window right now to start with.”

Spurs Web Opinion 

The myriad of reasons that Arsenal fans keep coming up with to cope with the fact that they bottled fourth, is quite hilarious. 

The reality is that Spurs were in crisis for the first few months of the season and still managed to finish above Arsenal, who have had Arteta in charge for three years. 

Over the course of the season, we scored more goals than them while conceding fewer. So, there is no question that we were a better side despite starting the campaign so poorly.

I do not think Arsenal are going to finish above us for the foreseeable future as this season was their best opportunity to do so, and they blew it.

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