Sunderland have appointed Sam Allardyce as their new manager, and Merson claims that the 60-year-old boss has a squad at the Stadium of Light that he can feel confident in.
The former Arsenal midfielder claims that Remi Garde has no such luxury at Villa, with Merson struggling to see the quality in the Claret and Blues’ team.
“I look at it and you look at Sam Allardyce and he goes into Sunderland and you think ‘if he can get Defoe playing, and if he can get Fletcher playing, there’s something happening there’,” he said.
“He’s got Cattermole who can get around the midfield, he’s got Larsson who is a decent player.
“I look at Villa and I think ‘what have you got? Who’s going to spark you up?’
“Unless they say to Jack Grealish 'you’re a free spirit, go and do what you want and we’ll play around you', I think they’re struggling. I don’t know who they have got, and what they have bought has not produced one bit.”
At the moment, Sunderland and Villa are the Premier League’s bottom two sides, and both have struggled massively to date this season.
Sunderland and Villa have both claimed just one victory in their opening 12 league matches, and they will have to improve considerably if they are to make it out of trouble.
Even with Allardyce in charge, the Black Cats have won just one of their last four matches – leaving them four points adrift of safety.
Villa, meanwhile, have not been victorious since the first day of the campaign, but Garde did guide them a 0-0 draw against table-topping Manchester City in his first match in the dugout.