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Fergie Was Right About Arsenal – Is It Ours Now?

Manchester United 4 Sunderland 0Following United’s away defeat to Bolton, who previously had been massively struggling, the press had a field day slating United. “Is this really the strongest Manchester United squad in Sir Alex Ferguson’s time at Old Trafford, as he recently claimed?” Steve Tongue from The Independent questioned. “A United team not up for a scrap? Surely not,” quipped Ian Whittell of The Guardian. The wankfest over Arsenal continued that day, however, after they saw off the mighty Wigan at home, leaving them standing three points clear with a game in hand.

A week and a half later, Sir Alex Ferguson was questioned about our title challenge, and whether we were capable of overthrowing Wenger’s team. “Arsenal are playing well, but it’s a long season and they know that, too,” Sir Alex Ferguson, in all his wisdom, declared. “They will drop points, there’s no doubt about that.” In the following five games, leading up to today, Arsenal have dropped seven points from the possible fifteen they could have won. In that same time, United have won five out of five, which pushed us to the top of the league yesterday.

I look at our squad now, and see that at varying points in the season, we’ve spent months without Scholes, Rooney, Hargreaves, Saha and Neville. Every other player has missed at least one game through injury. Despite our rubbish start to the season, we’ve managed to fight back, and now have the best goal difference by six goals. It all seems pretty incredible, when you consider that in our first eight league games this season we scored just seven goals. It has been the depth of our squad that has allowed us to pull through the difficult times, when the injuries really could have damaged us.

With the second half of the season upon us, a period where historically we have been stronger, it is looking more and more likely that the title will stay in Manchester this season. I don’t want to come across as too arrogant, but I’m happy enough to say that back in August I was claiming the title was ours. That’s what comes with being a content fan, looking at the quality your much loved manager has laid on a plate for you. If we won the title easily enough last season, then it should be a doddle this year, with Tevez, Hargreaves Anderson and Nani thrown in the mix.

I wrote Arsenal off at the start of the season and I am happy enough to concede I was wrong about that. Not because now I think they will win the title, because I don’t, but I have to concede they will come closer to winning it than I previously gave them credit for. The fact that Chelsea and Liverpool, the supposed other half of the top four, aren’t putting up much of a fight enhances Arsenal’s chances all the more. Well done to them for proving their strong start was more than a fluke, and that they do have the strength of character, as well as ability, to enable them to play and keep up with the big boys. However, yesterday just seemed like the beginning of the end for them. Well, I suppose the beginning of the end arguably came in their 1-1 draw at struggling Newcastle, a result which flattered Arsenal more than it did the Geordie lads.

I wouldn’t be overly surprised to see us draw or even lose to West Ham, considering we played spinelessly against them in our loss at Upton Park around Christmas last season. We’d won ten of our last eleven league games before making that the journey down south, the one game we didn’t win being the 1-1 draw against Chelsea. Our first XI were fighting fit and up for a victory to keep us clear at the top of the league. However, we lost, our lead was cut to two points, and none of us could really work out what happened.

This year could and should be slightly different, however, when taking in to consideration we had a stroll in the park yesterday for our 4-0 win over Sunderland. We rarely got out of second gear as we brushed Keano’s team aside. This is in contrast to last season, with derby day preceding the West Ham clash, and despite boasting a 3-1 scoreline, we had to work bloody hard for those points! Possibly this season should grant us with an easier match, with their manager settled in for some time now, and not looking for a miraculous result on his first game. The match will also be special for our Argentinian, who kept the Hammers in the Premiership last season with a goal against us on the final day, and I imagine he will be greeted with a respectful reception.

Still, before looking too far ahead; to West Ham, to 2008, to May, it is nice just to take a breather and live in the moment. We are top of the league (without relying on more games played) for the first time this season, and it feels good. We have shown our class to come back and outplay our opposition. We have seen moments of brilliance from our players just as often as we’ve seen the grit and determination to grind out a result. Our lads want it, they’ve got the taste for success, and there was no way they were going to surrender their trophy without a fight. There’s a long way to go yet, but the sooner the talk about it being “a four horse race” stops, the better. It’s embarrassingly inaccurate.

Well done United, top of the league, now do all you can to keep it up.

About Scott

Scott is the editor of Red Matters - 50 Years of Supporting Manchester United and an author of Play Like Fergie's Boys and Not Nineteen Forever. He writes for ESPN, The Metro and Bleacher Report. Follow @R_o_M on Twitter.

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  1. Stuart says:

    Complete twaddle. Lucky to beat Everton, no competition at Sunderland and eventually Rooney amd Ronaldo will [a] lose form and [b] get injured along with sick-note Saha.

    Then what will happen?.

    Arsenal to win it, probably by beating you at OT later in the year. They are having their little dip but will come back stronger. Yours is yet to come.

  2. CinCin says:

    I thought that our superior squad would be telling in march/april but the sooner the better we’re top. I can’t see us losing against the hammers nowas fergie would be drumming in their ears to stay on top.

  3. pezzer says:

    Quite a good article….

    If man ure dont win the title…it would be a travesty…Arsenal have spent under £100million on their squad…Man have spent over 300million…..

    Also, if Ronaldo gets injured you would be in Shitland…

    Saying that Arsenal are going through a bad time now and they will get stronger when Vaqn Persie is FINALLY FIT…(He is are Ronaldo)…..

    Also Im not sure about Rooney being the greatest,etc,etc….

    Good luck and may the team that cost much less win the lot!!!!

  4. Mr anderson says:

    i hope we`ll be able to rtain the tittle this season ,i think the introuduction of Anderson and hargo brings great depthe which we lacked last year.. Anderson will be the best player in the world ggmu

  5. goraI says:

    Well who doubts the fact that Ronaldo is the best.N way the Hammers managed to beat us last season coz they were struggling and needed to beat a big tam to gain confidence.wELL THIS SEASON I THINK WE ARE MORE FOCUSSED and more dangerous

  6. Wrighty7 says:

    I’ll tell u this. That was a good article and i’m a Gooner. I’m not surprised at how well Arsenal are doing, as I trust Wenger just as u trust Fergie. I think the title race is between us, u and Chelski and it will go to the wire. I must say this at the moment Arsenal are not playing too well but we’re still only a point behind u, form is temperory, class is permanent!!!

  7. craig mc says:

    Mmmm – It would be nice, but I don’t believe in counting my chickens before they hatch. It will be a LONG HARD FOUGHT second half of season, and just losing one game could have dramatic results on the outcome of the trailing clubs catching up. I won’t count Chelsea or L’Pool out until figures show it’s impossible for them to catch us up. At present that isn’t the case. Lets just get the West Ham match over with first. Good luck you red devils.

  8. Rainham Red says:

    Decent article but there is a long,long way to go.Don`t write of Chelsea they really have awful injury problems when everyone is back they will be challenging.As for Liverpool with the luck they are having they will probably win the Premiership,Champions League and FA Cup.Arsenal are having a dip in form which all Clubs experience during the season,you had yours at the beginning.So I think (and hope) that it will go to the wire and may the best team win,hopefully Arsenal.

  9. alan wood says:

    i am been following man u since 85 and its true by far that is the best squad but lets leave that its important to win at west ham which with this team it should not be hard because 99 per cent the dippers and the gonners will misss again this saterday may be both

  10. Gunner77 says:

    I wouldn’t say he was right, we’ve only lost one game all season so far(tho that could easily change against Everton). I think UTD’s team this year is outstanding and would put them as favourites for the title. I think we are in with a shout though and even if we finish second it’s an improvement on the last 2 years and a lot better htan the pundits reckoned. May the best team win!!!

  11. Mark says:

    Nice, balanced post. Arsenal don’t have the squad strength to replace their fragile frontmen, and with Wenger tight-fisted as always during the transfer window, it should see ManU through to the title.

  12. Scott the Red says:

    Pezzer, what you’ve got to remember is that the money spending is all relative. United spent a lot less than Chelsea had last season, but we still won the league. Was that a travesty? The team that spends the most doesn’t necessarily win, as we proved last season. Can Arsenal prove the same this season? I don’t think so, but I guess I’ll have to wait and see.

    Stuart, United had their blip at the beginning of the season, remember? So it’s not true to say ours is yet to come. We might struggle again later on in the season, no doubt, but we’ve already had a rough patch, rode it out, and are top of the league.

  13. Michael says:

    luck? luck has nothing to do with it Man utd just have more match winners than arsenal do and you are saying that we have not had our bad patch yet? you are forgetting at the beginning of the season rooney got injured first game of the season and was out for a month or two ronaldo was banned for three matches rooney got injured again saha was not fit anderson was injured hargreaves the list for first teamers out for man utd can go on a hell of a lot longer arsenal have had hardly any serious injuries part from van persie so if you think about it man utd have had their blip at the beginning of the season and we have not even hit our peak yet. arsenal on the other hand have had nowhere near as many injuries as man utd and they are in very good form at the moment but recently have been slipping.

    Also just a reminder that man utd start playing their better football in the second half of the season so my question to the arsenal lot is do they have what it takes to last the distance or will they fall at the final hurdle? the man utd team right know has quite a few players that now know what it takes to win the premier league and a few season veterans being giggs and van der sar etc. i firmly believe that man utd have a strong chance of winning the title now so do arsenal but utds chance is hell of a lot stronger

  14. Colin Bowley says:

    Yes, well written. I have a good feeling too. However, I do believe we have a big challenge with the Lyon game. They will not be pushovers by any means, and with this Benzema kid, and the two lads they bought from Lille (Bodmer and someone else) I reckon they will be all guns blazing against us. However, I believe if we have Hargreaves, and Scholes, or ofcourse the very good Anderson, then the middle of the park will be marshalled quite well. But again I stress IF we have them. Injuries are what totally ruined us against Milan last year, with poor Vidic having broken his collar bone at absolutely the worst time and then having to play one of his first games coming back against Milan in the rainy second leg. We definatly should have been in the final, taken the title and now be on for a fourth CL title and the begining of another glorious era in Manchester United’s glamorous history. I fear Inter as well, and ofcourse Real Madrid and if they get through against Milan, Arsenal. Its the ONE title Wenger has not one, and surely his ambitions will not be quelled one bit by the rising creme that is Manchester United’s latest squad. He believes that he also has a very strong and capable young team, and why should they also not be right up there to win the CL. Why not indeed.
    No, Manchester United need to show immense resolve and strength, but I think they can do it!

  15. Colin Bowley says:

    err..sorry me again!.Correction should obviously say that Wenger has NOT WON.
    Right that’s it. I’ll get my coat.

  16. denton davey says:

    Like the author, I was not overly impressed with the quality of competition that Arsenal would provide and I, too, have been surprised by their strength so far. Gallas has been instrumental in tightening their defence and Hleb – to my utter astonishment – has pulled the strings up-front. However, I was – am I remain – unconvinced by Arsenal.

    To me they seem “lightweight” and not completelly structured for the hard slog that comes with the cold, wet English winter, slower pitches, and opponents who know that they only way to control their pretty passing game is to get stuck in – as M’boro and the barcodes both proved.

    I am expecting that David Moyes went to school on those games and will have Philly Neville, Lee Carsley, and Tim Cahill drinking blood before tomorrow’s game, which will be a huge test for them.

    Also, they have been very lucky – what else can you say about the dreadful botch-job by usually-reliable Peter Cech a fortnight ago ? and their incredible escape against TheLads a while back at the Emirates ?

    Sure, they have missed van Persie – a guy who gives them more weight and is a nasty sonofabitch, to boot – but, overall, they’ve not had a very difficult time with injuries to key performers.

    My expectation at the beginning of the season was that Arsenal would get about 75 points; they may get 80 but they won’t get 90.

  17. denton davey says:

    I forgot to mention Robbie Keane’s penalty miss under the paragraph about Arsenal’s luck. And, now, you could add Everton’s appalling defending yesterday to that list of very-recent situations that have come up trumps for the Gooners. I still think that they won’t get 90 points but IF our lot play like they did yesterday then TheLads won’t either ! And, much as I hate to acknowledgte it, those damned RentBoyz aren’t dead-in-the-water yet. And, even more disgustingly, today – and today alone – let’s hope for a ManShitty victory over the scousers.


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