Sunday, March 29, 2020
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It was the spectacle that a top Premier League fixture should be: fast, frenetic, end-to-end stuff, littered with chances and moments of individual brilliance. It was Arsenal, though, who emerged victorious from the encounter against Manchester United, and in doing so supposedly answered the critics.

Anyone who ever questioned whether Arsene Wenger is the right man to take Arsenal forward knows nothing. Any Arsenal fan who doubted him is an ingrate who knows even less and doesn’t deserve the privilege of watching the team play football.

However, one brick a house does not make, and it’s pitiful to see how quickly the sports writers at the Telegraphthe Times and the BBC have changed tack to insist that by beating Manchester United, Arsenal are now serious title contenders. They are not. 

The victory was an excellent result, but the Gunners’ frailties were still all too apparent. Both Rooney and Ronaldo should have done better with clear cut chances, and it was some culpable defending on United’s part gave Arsenal the opportunity to take the victory.

Questions were raised going into the game concerning Arsenal’s form compared to that of United, and the problems raised by the lack of depth in their squad. The result and the performance answered those questions, but their pretensions to a realistic title challenge have already been answered.

Manchester United is not the sort of game that has been Arsenal’s downfall in recent times. In fact Arsenal have won twice, drawn once and lost once in their fixtures against Alex Ferguson’s side over the past two years. Yet, whereas United won the league in both of those seasons, Arsenal still ended up empty handed.

The test of a title winning side is the more innocuous fixtures: Bolton and Middlesborough away, or a physical home tie after a tough away match in the Champions League. This is where Arsenal have dropped the points that have cost them the title in the past two seasons. And it’s what they’ve done again this time around against the likes of Fulham, Hull and Stoke.

The same ‘experts’ who have witnessed Arsenal’s 'resurgence' are now turning their pens on Manchester United. How quickly the shoe changes foot.

Much is being made of the solitary point they have taken against Liverpool, Chelsea and now Arsenal. However, having been to Anfield, Stamford Bridge and the Emirates they’re still within touching distance of the top of the table. Coupled this with this, the old cliché about their slow start to the season means it’d take only a fool to question their title challenge.

For a more accurate appraisal of how things will pan out it’s best not to listen to people who make a living providing comment and conjecture. Ask them to put their money where their mouth is and it's likely you'll get no more than a diatribe about gambling being a threat to society, a tool of social repression afflicting the working classes.

Don’t listen to them. The bookies’ opinion matters because it hits people where it counts - in the back pocket. Manchester United are still second favourites to win the league, behind Chelsea, and Arsenal still sit an outside shot at 8/1 – roughly the same odds as Robbie Fowler being the first goalscorer against Chelsea this afternoon.

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