Sunday, February 17, 2008
Wenger will come back at Old Trafford and win the league. Four reasons why
By 1970’s Gooner
Many have jumped on the band wagon predicting that the defeat inflicted on Arsenal by Manchester United in the FA Cup will have further ramifications for the rest of the campaign.
I consider however that this has no significant logical basis and that the four factors that are analysed below will play a significant role on the run in for the title.
1. The so called inadequacy of Arsenal’s squad
Certainly the choice of playing two young full backs and a midfield anchor man who is on his last legs did prove in the end too much against a rampant United side.
Hoyte and Traore looked out of sorts, not able to thwart the various opponents that chose to take them on.
Hoyte was culpable for United’s first, second and fourth goal and Traore played Nani on for the third goal while Lehmann would have saved Nani’s shot in better times.
The young full backs were so much out of it that even their own players would not pass the ball to them. And they themselves would often not make themselves available to accept the ball from Lehmann when he was looking for an outlet. He more often than not had to choose to kick the ball upfield.
Gilberto was nowhere, unable to mark opponents with any degree of efficiency. He no longer can hold that anchor role in midfield and he should be allowed to go in the summer.
But this performance does not really mean, as many analysts have been pointing out in the press, that Manchester United’s squad is deeper and better than Arsenal’s.
Arsene Wenger had to choose from the remaining players available to him, either through injury or otherwise. And his pool of available players on the day was much smaller than Ferguson’s.
Consider what Arsenal’s performance would have been had Diaby or Song been available instead of Gilberto. Or if Sagna could have played instead of Hoyte or Traore. Ferguson played his first choice in defense remember which is always a good place to start in games like this.
When Arsenal’s full compliment of players return to fitness or availability, which ever way you look at it, then Arsenal's squad will prove to be as strong and as capable of lasting the course.
2. Manchester United wanted this victory much more than Arsenal
This was blatantly evident during the game where Manchester United’s players were playing as though it was the FA Cup final.
The reason of course is that lying second with five points behind Arsenal may have alerted Ferguson to the need to keep their chances of winning something of note this year alive. Like Arsene Wenger did in 2005 by concentrating on and finally winning the FA Cup.
There was also another reason why Manchester United wanted this victory more. They had to bounce back from the woeful performances in the League where in the most crucial period of the unfolding marathon race for the title they surrendered five points to their bitter rivals.
Their last minute equaliser at White Hart Lane and that defeat at the hands of their local city rivals at Old Trafford has sent shivers down the spines of the supporters that it is their players and not the youngsters of Arsenal that might crumble under the pressure of a run in!
So win they had to do. But when the two sides meet again at the same venue in the League it will be a different Arsenal side that will line up and at the end it is Manchester United that will know that they have been in a game.
3. The possible psychological impact this defeat might have on Arsenal
This is cots wallop invented by those that are clinging onto anything that might shatter the self belief and confidence of this Arsenal team.
They are hoping for a repeat of the collapse of the “Invincibles” when their run was abruptly ended by Manchester United’s rough tactics and a weak referee who gave a soft penalty.
The chances of something similar happening are very remote.
For a start the team that lost to United last Saturday is nowhere remotely near the one that will line up is the next more important games coming up.
But there are more recent similar events with which to gauge the Arsenal players response.
Like the more humiliating 5-1 defeat at Tottenham for example. But did it result in the young guns spiraling out of control?
No, it was followed by two fantastic 3-0 wins against Newcastle and a commanding performance away at Manchester City inflicting on them their first home league defeat of the season. The same team that defeated Manchester United at Old Traford! Arsenal then followed that up with a hard-fought 2-0 win at home to Blackburn.
And to turn the same argument round, Arsenal won both encounters with Manchester United last year but it didn’t have much of an effect on United’s chances of winning the League did it?
4. Fixture congestion and fatigue
Arsene Wenger said last year that the one mistake he will not repeat will be to tire and subject his players to the possibility of injuries in the lesser competitions like the Carling Cup and the FA Cup. He has kept his promise (to himself).
This means that Arsenal can now concentrate on more important matters like the run in to the title (which I think if achieved will be his greatest triumph) and the Champions League.
Fixture congestion and tired players especially now that things are getting serious are the last thing any manager will want. But that is what Ferguson will have and I am sure it’s not something he would have chosen to do.
His hand was forced however by the fantastic quality and beautiful football the young guns have been producing and his own team’s faltering performances.
Would this rout make a difference? ''I hope so,'' said United's manager.
Keep on dreaming I say….
Arsenal, Manchester United, Chelsea: Six factors that will affect the outcome of the title