After thrashing Porto in the Champions League this week, Arsenal boss, Arsene Wenger, claimed he thought it would be a good thing to be drawn against an English club in the next round.
It was a fairly bizarre comment, given that Arsenal have been beaten home and away by the remaining English clubs in the competition.
Chelsea battered Arsenal 3-0 at the Emirates with United managing the same, with a 3-1 scoreline and their only goal coming from a deflection (or an “own goal” as it’s called when United score with one).
United comprehensively beat Arsenal in last year’s Champions League semi-final, with a 1-0 win at home and a 3-1 win away, their only goal coming from a penalty that should never have been awarded.
Regardless, Wenger thinks it would be a good thing to play us again.
“I have a funny feeling, maybe it’s good for us to play an English team,” Wenger said after Porto. “We have not done well against Chelsea and not done well against Man Utd this year and it would be a good opportunity to show that we can do it against them.”
Isn’t that the point though? Arsenal have shown that they can’t do it against us, repeatedly. In fact, in our last 10 meetings, United have won 6, Arsenal have won 2 and we have drawn 2. But a win against Porto seems to lead Wenger to believe that Arsenal are suddenly now good enough to beat United, five weeks after the mauling at the Emirates.
Now, let’s get some perspective here. Arsenal lost to Porto away after defending non-league teams would be embarrassed of, then gave them a total beating at home. But Porto are only the third best team in Portugal, a totally inferior league to that of England, Spain, Italy, France and Germany, so a 5-0 win, however entertaining, doesn’t mean an awful lot. Porto are 11 points behind the leaders in Portugal and have conceded 20 goals in 22 games. They finished second in their Champions League group, ahead of the 10th best team in Spain and the 2nd best team in Cyprus. Not exactly a great pedigree is it?
Regardless, Manchester United went on to thrash AC Milan last night, after already beating them 3-2 at the San Siro. Whilst as well as being a great team of the past, they are enjoying a good season in Italy. They are second in the league, just four points behind Inter Milan, and therefore are title contenders. Ronaldinho, Pato, Beckham, Seedorf, Huntelaar, Inzaghi and Nesta are amongst Milan’s squad. Serie A is no La Liga or Premiership but is obviously of a much higher standard than Portuguese football.
Still, that didn’t stop Wenger from playing down the 4-0, claiming that it was expected after our 3-2 victory in the San Siro. This is fairly odd considering that even the most positive United fan was imagining that we would progress, but not that we would totally destroy Milan.
“It was not a surprise,” said Wenger. “Last night’s game was never in doubt after the first leg, which put Milan in a position where they had to chase, go on a big gamble in the second leg, and of course Manchester United punished them. The decider was in the first game. In the heads of Milan, it was already all over.”
Of course it was a surprise! No team with the history of Milan and quality of players would come to Old Trafford believing they could do anything but win. Sounds like someone is finding it hard to give credit when it’s due. But then, 7-2 over the second best team in the Italy is no 6-2 against the third best team in Portugal.
Made in Manchester is available for just £5. It includes 30 articles from the country's best football writers about graduates from the Manchester United academy. Everyone who buys a copy enters a competition to win the new home shirt. All profit goes to Trafford Macmillan so please support this fantastic cause.