On Sunday, we witnessed probably one of the most memorable wins ever over one of our big league rivals as Manchester United battered Arsenal 8-2, to send the Gunners to their worst defeat since 1896.
It was a game that showed the power, pace and potential of our young players, showing just how good this team under Sir Alex Ferguson can be. Incredibly we went into the game with several of our first team players missing, particularly in defence where the young duo of Phil Jones and Jonny Evans paired up at centre-half.
Up front of course Danny Welbeck, Wayne Rooney and Javier Hernandez were simply too much for Arsenal’s inexperienced back-line to deal with and the trio took full advantage of that, like any good forwards would do.
Ashley Young making his third league start for the club was exceptional down his right flank and seemed to have as many tricks as Paul Daniels would, as his runs proved too much for young Carl Jenkinson who was out of his depth against him and was incredibly lucky not to have been sent off in the first half for hauling the winger down outside the area.
It didn’t matter though as Rooney scored from the resulting freekick and at 3-0 after 41 minutes, the game was over as a contest. Very few fans both at Old Trafford and watching on television, really would have given Arsenal a sniff going into the second half, even after Theo Walcott scored and they were right.
Despite the Gunners starting the second half well, as soon as Rooney scored our fourth, the floodgates opened and the standard of their backline’s defensive organisation got worse as even despite having to play the last 20 minutes with 10 men due to Jenkinson’s red card, seemingly every time United went forward, you sensed that we would get a goal.
Now this may surprise some fans but because of that reason and the fact Arsenal had an inexperienced team out, I did not enjoy that match as much as I thought I would have. That’s not to say that I didn’t cheer seeing the goals go in, as every one of our eight goals was great and not a regulation finish by any means – and that’s including Welbeck’s header – but this was not a great Arsenal team at all.
If we had tonked the Arsenal team of say 2-3years ago 8-2 with a side that included Cesc Fabregas, Samir Nasri, Emmanuel Adebayour, Bacary Sagna, Gilberto, etc then perhaps the win would ‘mean’ more for me. Now of course only one of those players mentioned there is still at the Gunners and but for illness Sagna would have played, ahead of Armand Traore who had a shocker.
Perhaps it’s because until Roman Abramovich came along and pumped billions into Chelsea, that for the best part of our recent history, Arsenal were our biggest rivals and our fixtures againgst them in the league used to be mouth-watering battles.
Who can forget the duel Roy Keane had with Patrick Vieria at both Highbury and Old Trafford, when were both were in their prime or the infamous game where United ended Arsenal’s 49-match unbeaten run when Ruud van Nistelrooy and Rooney bagged our goals.
Maybe it’s because in a way I feel sorry for Arsenal’s decline and that for the first time in years, they really do look, like a side that will struggle to win anything but one of the domestic cups for a number of years to come.
So maybe with that in mind, the fact that we were brutalising Arsenal’s second-string side and sending Arsene Wenger – the man who for many years had many infamous rows with Sir Alex – to his worst defeat as a manager, was in a way quite sad as it revealed (not that we didn’t know it already) that Arsenal are no longer our title-rivals.
Even if as expected, Wenger does bring in new players to his side, with our team looking strong City, Chelsea and Liverpool making good adjustments this summer, there’s a good chance that Arsenal will be left behind.
Whether that’s fair on Wenger or not, it’s something that no doubt will put more pressure on him and if his side were to finish outside of the top 5 this year (which looks increasingly likely) perhaps it could be the end of the line for him in charge of the Gunners.
If he were to depart in the summer, it would be a very different Arsenal that we would be playing which would be a shame as the Ferguson/Wenger battles have been great to watch and games between the two sides would lose that ‘something’ that have made them so great to watch. But that’s football and it can be cruel like that, that’s just part of the beauty of the game.
By Adam Dennehey @ADennehey87
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