Arsenal are looking to win the Premier League title this term after missing out on it to Manchester City last season, but Paul Merson believes they could be out of the race in October if they lose to Tottenham Hotspur and the reigning champions.
The Gunners face Spurs on Sunday at Emirates Stadium, with both North London clubs going into the derby on the same league form.
They have both won four games and drawn one in their opening five Premier League games, and fireworks are expected to fly as usual when they clash.
Bournemouth and Man City are their next league games afterwards, and Merson does not see them winning the title if they drop six points from their next three league matches.
“The title race used to start in December and January – and it was about who had the best run after that,” he told Sky Sports.
“Now Man City have blown it out of the water. You can’t fall behind.
“Arsenal haven’t really got going and they’ve won four and drawn one. Everybody is like that, even Man City are not perfect. Fulham had chances against them, West Ham had them on the rack the other day. They were 1-0 up and Ederson was there making world-class saves.
“But if Arsenal lose their two big games, they won’t win the league, it’s as simple as that. If they lose to Tottenham and Man City, then they’re out of the title race by the start of October.
“Last season, if Arsenal had won one of those games against Manchester City – and they had them on the ropes in that home game in February – then they would have won the league.”