Paul Merson would be ‘shocked’ if Arsenal did not appoint Brendan Rodgers as Arsene Wenger’s replacement

Arsene Wenger is under immense scrutiny at Arsenal (Picture: Getty)Paul Merson would be ‘shocked’ if Arsenal did not appoint Brendan Rodgers as Arsene Wenger’s replacement.

Wenger, 68, is widely expected to leave the Emirates this summer after spending over two decades in charge of the Gunners.

Arsenal failed to qualify for the Champions League last year and will also finish outside of the top four this season, having slipped 12 points below Liverpool in fourth.

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The north London outfit also suffered an emphatic defeat to Manchester City in the Carabao Cup final at the end of last month, although they could still save their campaign in the Europa League.

A number of names have been raised as potential replacements for Wenger but Merson believes Celtic boss Rodgers is the stand-out choice.

‘I don’t know why he doesn’t get the Arsenal job,’ Merson said of Rodgers on Sky Sports. ‘He fits Arsenal great.

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‘The nearest Liverpool have ever come to winning the league for a long long time is when Brendan Rodgers was in charge.

‘He’s done nothing wrong at Celtic. To do what they’ve done… people can say it’s Scottish football and Celtic are head and shoulders above, but every team they played on that run treated it like a cup final, which is difficult sometimes – especially when you’re Celtic and know you’re better than everybody else.

‘I think he [Rodgers] now needs a change and needs to come back down. I’ll be shocked if he didn’t get a good job, I’d be quite shocked if he didn’t get the Arsenal job.’

Brendan Rodgers should be Arsenal’s next manager, says Paul Merson (Picture: Getty)Since taking over at Celtic in 2016, former Liverpool boss Rodgers has won the Scottish Premiership and three cup trophies.

The club are set to win another domestic title this season and Rodgers said he is ‘loving life’ in Scotland when asked about the links with Arsenal.

‘Arsenal is a great club with a great manager,’ he said. ‘People will look at it and see that I went to Liverpool, they were struggling for five seasons for Champions League football and I was able to get them back.

‘When I came to Celtic, they hadn’t been in the Champions
League for three seasons and I got them back.

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‘So maybe people are thinking – okay, Arsenal have been out of the Champions League and that is maybe the equation for someone like myself.

‘However, I’m loving my life up here. I’m not going to be here forever but I’m living in a dream – although dreams always come to an end at some point.

‘I’m always relaxed about speculation and whatnot but my focus is only on Celtic.’

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Paul Merson and Phil Thompson slam ‘ridiculous’ Riyad Mahrez and urge Leicester City to punish winger

Riyad Mahrez was said to be devastated that his move to Manchester City fell through (Picture: Getty)Paul Merson and Phil Thompson have slammed ‘ridiculous’ Riyad Mahrez and urged Leicester City to punish the winger.

After missing out on a move to Manchester City during the January transfer window, Mahrez missed five consecutive days of training and did not feature in the Premier League clash against Swansea City.

He will also miss Saturday’s trip to the Etihad, despite returning to training on Friday.

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Liverpool legend Thompson told Sky Sports: ‘I’ve got absolutely no sympathy for him. It has been handled very poorly by him and his agent.

‘I don’t understand why he had to hand in a transfer request. Surely if Manchester City wanted him then they would have gone about it the right way and agreed a deal earlier.

‘I know these opportunities come along once in a while but he’s taken bad advice in handing in that request and staying away from training.

Claude Puel hopes Mahrez can ‘get his head right’ (Picture: Getty)‘He was willing to take the new contract so he should honour that, especially with the size of the wage he’s on, so he needs to get himself back and apologise.

‘The players will wind him up but it will be over and done with in a week, and then it will be how the fans take him back.

‘The club have got to punish him and the PFA have got to back the club. He’s in breach of contract and if it was the other way round they would come down on the club.’

Merson, the former Arsenal and England forward, added: ‘I did have sympathy with Mahrez, but I don’t now.

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‘Since the window’s shut, you can understand a couple of days to get your head together and sort yourself out, but this is getting ridiculous now.

‘I don’t know what the club should do, that’s up to them, they should have taken £65m in my opinion, and now they’re struggling.

‘He’s got to come back, no one’s going to take him if he doesn’t come back. This isn’t normal.

‘Players get the hump, don’t get me wrong, they think ‘I should have got a move’, but Philippe Coutinho thought that and he was going to the dream of all dreams in Barcelona.

Mahrez returned to training on Friday (Picture: Getty)‘He came back, performed and got his move. You’ve got to come back, there’s nothing he can do now, nothing. He’s only making it worse now, whatever happens.’

Leicester boss Claude Puel refused to go into detail about Mahrez’s situation on Thursday, but said he hoped he can ‘get his head right’ and return to the squad with the right attitude.

‘I don’t want to comment and give details of our relationship with Riyad. It is important to all details remain inside the club and not in the public,’ he said ahead of the fixture against Manchester City.

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‘I hope Riyad can get his head right and to come back with us and to hard work. The best way is to come and to enjoy his football.

‘Riyad is a magnificent player and he loves football. He loves his relationship with his friends and team-mates. He needs to come back and to play, to touch the ball.’

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Arsene Wenger warned by Paul Merson not to tinker with Arsenal XI vs Brighton

Arsene Wenger’s side come up against Brighton this weekend (Picture: Getty)Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger should not fall into the trap of resting star players for the visit of Brighton and Hove Albion on Sunday afternoon, according to Paul Merson.

The Gunners may look at this upcoming game as one of the easier tests they’ll face in the Premier League this season, but Merson has warned they must not get complacent.

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The former England international used the example of Liverpool and Tottenham, who recently dropped points at home to Burnley and Swansea City respectively after making wholesale changes to their line ups on the day.

Arsenal haven’t got off to the best of starts this season so cannot afford another slip up this weekend, with Wenger also having the luxury of resting a number of big names in the Europa League on Thursday.

Wenger has been warned not to take Brighton lightly (Picture: Getty)Olivier Giroud, Theo Walcott and Shkodran Mustafi were the senior players most likely to also feature in the league that started against BATE Borisov, so Merson says that long journey is no excuse for Arsenal.

‘Arsenal’s trip to Belarus in the Europa League should not get in the way of three points against Brighton,’ Merson told Sky Sports.

‘However Arsene Wenger can’t take underestimate Chris Hughton’s side. That’s where some managers are coming unstuck at the moment, taking teams lightly.

Chris Hughton’s side have improved with two wins in their last three games (Picture: Getty)

Arsenal 2017/18 fixtures

Brighton (H) – Sun 1 OctWatford (A) – Sat 14 OctCrveba Zvezda (A) – Europa League – Thu 19 OctEverton (A) – Sun 22 OctNorwich – Carbao Cup (H) – Tue 24 OctSwansea (H) – Sat 28 OctCrvena Zvezda – Europa League (H) – Thurs 2 Nov

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‘We saw that when Tottenham played Swansea at Wembley with Heung-min Son playing left wing-back and Liverpool making six changes against Burnley.

‘You have to play your best team and if they do the Gunners should win easily.’

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