Paul Merson has claimed that Tottenham Hotspur are already out of this season's Premier League title race.
The former Arsenal midfielder believes that Spurs' unexpected home loss to Newcastle United, which puts them five points behind league leaders Liverpool, has ended their hopes of being champions this term.
Merson points to the consistency of Liverpool and Manchester City, who finished on 97 and 98 points respectively last term, and insists that Spurs' early-season form means they are now top-four contenders rather than title challengers.
"I must admit, I didn't see this coming - Tottenham losing at home to Newcastle," Merson told Sky Sports News.
"Spurs look in disarray, a worrying sign this early in the season. They are out of the title race already, five points behind Liverpool with three games played. That may sound harsh, but would you back Spurs to win the league over Liverpool if Liverpool had a five-point head start?
"People go on and on about there being 35 games left but I'm fed up with that rhetoric, five points is a lot of points to make up. As a general rule, it takes five games to make up five points, Liverpool lost once last season and have won every game so far this, so where are Spurs going to bridge the gap?
"Before a ball was kicked, I thought Spurs were a dead cert to finish in the top three, now they look in the equation for top four football after their performances.
"They fell over the line against Aston Villa, somehow got a point at Manchester City after the biggest run-around you're likely to see and then they never looked like scoring against Newcastle. Their blatant lack of urgency when trailing Newcastle with minutes remaining was startling and left me thinking 'do they know how long is left here?'.
"Something isn't right at Spurs but what is clear is that Mauricio Pochettino hasn't got his team right yet. Christian Eriksen is their most creative player but he's been on the bench. I mean, who else have Spurs got that can put the ball through the eye of a needle?
"I rate Tottenham highly as a team - they were Champions League finalists less than three months ago after all - but they have shocked me, they have been my biggest disappointment this season so far, and I'm not just saying that because I used to play for Arsenal.
"Pochettino's comments that he has never seen so much unrest at a football club the other day were concerning and eye-opening. He doesn't normally speak so strongly, he always looks after the club's interests and gets on with the job at hand. But his comment suggests things are unravelling at the moment."
Tottenham's next match comes against Arsenal in the North London derby on Sunday.body check tags ::