The former England international has also backed Newcastle United and Swansea City to retain their top-flight status for the 2016-17 campaign.
“Swansea weren't great despite winning on Monday and I still think they'll go down, then it's heads-or-tails between Sunderland and Watford,” the former Villa man told Sky Sports.
“I do worry for Watford. I've seen this a lot, like Hull a few seasons ago. People are figuring them out. You always get one side with glass slippers on a slide. In this league it's ruthless and they could easy fall into trouble.
“However, I'm going with Sunderland. I'm actually shocked that I've picked them because they've got the experience of Sam Allardyce and Jermain Defoe.
“I've seen enough from Newcastle to suggest they'll stay I'm up and I think Norwich will also be safe, although they were well beaten by Bournemouth and that's a worrying sign in a six-pointer.”
A footnote added: “Merse predicts: Aston Villa, Swansea, Sunderland.”
Aston Villa, Sunderland and Newcastle United are in the bottom three of the Premier League table at the moment.
Swansea City, Norwich and Bournemouth are immediately above them in the standings, while Chelsea, West Bromwich Albion and Watford are all in the mix.
One suspects that due to the quality of players Chelsea have, they will eventually get out of this situation.
Villa look doomed, while Newcastle do have some good players who should be able to guide the team to safety.
Swansea City, Norwich and Sunderland are in real danger of going down, but Watford should be fine.
Although the Hornets have not got positive results in recent weeks, the likes of Troy Deeney, Odion Ighalo and Etienne Capoue are good players who should be able to help them start winning games soon.