Tuesday, February 19, 2008


Advantage Manchester United?


There are those people who are assuming United's comprehensive thrashing of Arsenal has given them the psychological upper hand as we enter the final third of the season and of course they are right. Should Arsenal ever put on such a powder puff display again they won't win a thing.

My old pub side could have beaten Arsenal on Saturday, though perhaps not with me in the starting XI.

But come the Premier clash in April at Old Trafford then you will see a different Arsenal. Fergie flooded the midfield on Saturday to close down Hleb and Fabregas but while it worked my rabbits could have handled the inspirational midfielders Saturday. Perhaps by playing his hand so early Wenger has an insight to what Fergie might do in April?

Arsene Wenger's quotes after the match were interesting and told a lot. He took pleasure in there being no injuries and reckoned United played great. Hardly the thoughts of a manager gnashing at the bit because his side were so woeful.

Injuries on Saturday were unlikely given the total absence of passion shown by the players. It's almost as if they were under instructions to take it easy.

Much has been made of this Arsenal's tactical variety. Where once they played neat triangles that hurt no one this season they have gone long, gone wide, gone through the middle as situations dictate. Old Trafford saw another method introduced. Wrap the players in cotton wool and do nothing.

Given that Wenger had just 14 players to choose from perhaps you can accept his safety first attitude but...Given the size of back room staffs these days, given that players are frequently rested, given that medical facilities are the best available, given Arsene's love of stretching, just why is the treatment room so damned busy? Has Gary Lewin hired a couple of fit Polish nurses to tend those hamstrings or soothe them metatarsals? Is Robin van Persie ever going to play for the club again?

Perhaps there is a case for Arsenal to answer. Should they have to explain to the FA, their fans (!), just how a club five points clear of the Premier League can put in such an inept performance in such a high profile game? Because if Arsenal, my club, weren't trying then they cheated. They cheated the fans out of their hard earned cash.

Then again if we win the Premier League the Champions League will anyone remember?

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