This was the first of a series of games where Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea all face each other between now and the New Year. Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger both agree that December will be a pivotal month in terms of the destination of the Premier League title.
Many people see Arsenal as genuine title contenders this year and this game was a chance for them to prove it. Prior to last night they hadn’t won in their last ten games against United or Chelsea. Arsenal have won nothing since 2005 and Arsene Wenger is well aware that in the time that has elapsed since then, Manchester United have won seven major trophies.
It would seem that a shared dislike or wariness of the likes of Chelsea and Manchester City have brought Fergie and Wenger closer together over the past couple of years. Their mutual loathing used to make for great entertainment, but things are much calmer now.
Having said that, there is still a healthy dislike between the two clubs, not helped by Patrice Evra’s comments over the past few days that he believes Arsenal hold no fear for United and that he is sure they will win nothing this season.
So, did United and Arsenal produce a classic and did Arsenal prove Evra wrong?
The answer to both questions was a resounding no. United dominated the first half but created just two chances, one of which was brilliantly headed home by Park for the only goal of the game. To be fair to United, that was two more chances than Arsenal created.
The second half saw Arsenal control possession, but once again fail to create any worthwhile chances. In fact, United could and should have added to their lead, particularly when they were awarded a correct but harsh penalty. The abysmal attempt by Wayne Rooney from the spot is probably still travelling!
United will be more than happy with three points, a clean sheet and the fact that they completely stopped Arsenal from creating a thing. They will be happy with Park’s goal and the fact that Rio Ferdinand was back at his imperious best. They will be pleased that Wayne Rooney got another ninety minutes under his belt and they will be pleased that they are clear at the top and have a game in hand in hand on the rest. All in all, not a bad night for United.
As for Arsenal, well, things were not so good. Once again they failed to beat one of the top sides and the free flowing football that destroys the lesser teams was totally ineffective against one of the best. I’m afraid that they have failed, once again, to show that they are genuine contenders.
In many ways the game was a disappointment and it failed to live up to the expectations most of us had. It was nowhere near as exciting as the game between Tottenham and Chelsea on Sunday. There were few clear cut chances and for two teams of such quality, there was not a great deal of good football played. In fact, in the second half, the game became really scrappy.
Having said all that, it was interesting and there was much to admire about Manchester United. They are still not at their best but they remain unbeaten and they are top of the league. You have to say that they are going to take some stopping if they do find some form.
The game confirmed that United are still well ahead of Arsenal in many ways and that Arsenal are still short of mounting a serious challenge on the title. It was tight and it was only 1-0 but the game told us much more than that.
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A trully dull affair, not the classic that everyone hoped for. As Ferdinand put it in the post match , its all about the three points and that’s what Utd got.
Both teams showed great defensive work, but I’d rahter United have been a lot more offensive.