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What would a defeat against Arsenal mean for United?

United take on Arsenal this afternoon and, for the first time in a decade, approach the game as supposed underdogs. Ryan Giggs has disputed this title but the eight points between them and us suggests they have clearly been superior, even if they’ve yet to play many tough games.

Some fans and sections of the media have said that if United lose today, falling eleven points behind Arsenal, there is no way we can retain our title. The Gunners would have to lose four more games than us over the course of the season and the way they are playing right now, it’s hard to imagine that happening.

After ten games, United don’t look like they’re capable of winning the league and Arsenal look unstoppable. Fortunately for us, we’re only a quarter of the way through the season and history tells us that Arsenal won’t be the team for us to worry about.

The North London side have started other seasons strongly but then haven’t been able to carry their form across the entire year.

At the start of the 2007-2008 season, for example, they amassed 26 points after their first ten games (more than they have after ten games this season) but went on to finish 3rd, 4 points behind United. We lost more games than them that season but, crucially, we won more too.

Their recent League Cup defeat against Chelsea at the Emirates tells you a lot about the strength of their squad. Both sides made considerable changes to what they would regard their strongest XI for the Premier League, yet Chelsea easily beat them 2-0.

Arsenal may very well go on to win the title. They have some great players. What they are missing though is a striker. That’s why they were so keen to sign Wayne Rooney or Luis Suarez in the summer. What they have up front, like Chelsea, does not come close to matching the strength of the teams in Manchester. If their midfielders keep scoring as many goals as they are doing, then a lack of a world class striker won’t cost them, but it’s rare for midfielders to be able to maintain that goalscoring form for a whole season.

For me, the teams to beat are the teams we tipped as the strongest sides at the start of the season, Chelsea and City. The money they’ve spent is incredible, with both bringing in quality new managers to boost their chances. I’m far more concerned with the difference in points between us and them than I am Arsenal. At the end of the season, that may look foolish, but for now, I just don’t fancy them.

A defeat against Arsenal would put us 11 points behind them, but just 4 points behind Chelsea and potentially 5 points behind City (assuming they win today). In November, that’s nothing to worry about.

Of course, I’m going in to the game wanting a win. We have some quality players who are capable of really switching it on, so if they all manage to do that today, we’ll look good for the win. But having seen how we fell apart against City, it’s always a worry when we come up against a strong offensive team.

But for me, a defeat against Arsenal wouldn’t rule us out of the title race. Not just because we’re only a few games in and it’s foolish to judge the table at this stage. Does anyone seriously think Southampton will be playing Champions League football next season? As it stands, they’re better than Chelsea, City, Spurs and us. But also because I don’t think Arsenal are the team we’ll have to finish above to win the title this season.

Time will tell…


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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84 Comments

  1. drxhuxhu says:

    I honestly won’t watch any depressing show today,hope the boys deliver the goods,United needs to win this game outright,losing this game means we are technically out of the title race and further puts a deny to the fortress status of Old Trafford.

  2. UnitedFaithful says:

    Read somewhere that Evans is not likely to be fit for this game.If this is true DM will go for Smalling and Vidic at the Centre.Anyone know if Carrick and Cleverly are fit to play?

  3. IRONBRAND says:

    Bertie Mee said to Matt Busby
    “Have you heard of the North Bank Highbury?”
    “No”, said Matt,
    “You cockney tw*t,
    But I’ve heard of the Stretford – Enders!”

  4. UnitedFaithful says:

    Ironbrand
    Brilliant Chant mate.Just found out about it the other day.

  5. UnitedFaithful says:

    I see the Stretford End arising,
    I see trouble on the way,
    Don’t go out tonight,
    Unless you’re red and white,
    I see there’s trouble on the way…

  6. xyz says:

    @proverb 13:33 – we have a long way to go sadly….

  7. Dayus D red says:

    For those who are saying a loss today is not the end, i wish i can share thier optimism. Even a win today doesn’t bring us to top five but will definately show our intent to keep in touch. You can’t win the league in nov but u can definately loose it. That is what a loss today means.

  8. denton davey says:

    “They have some great players. What they are missing though is a striker.”

    You are under-estimating the impact of Olivier Giroud – he’s not the usual goal-scoring striker but a guy whose game is like Mario Mandzukic whose job is to hold up the ball and get it to Ribery/Robben/Muller and Bayern thrives on his “reverse service” to those three attacking midfielders.

  9. NairobiRed says:

    @dayus
    It doesn’t but what it does is compress the table. Meaning only arsenal are 2 losses away from loosing their position. A compessed table means we don’t have to rely too much on other teams, we can keep winning our games and move up the table pretty fast.

  10. Proverb says:

    “When Manchester United are at their best I am close to orgasm.

  11. Gingerprince18 says:

    From all the 7 teams that are topping United at the moment, only Liverpool and Southampton won. City is struggling at Stadium of Light at the moment. So let’s cap off this terrific week with 3 point at OT today. Come on lads….believe. There is no better chance to close the chasing pack gap and to halt Arsenal excellent run. If there is any club in the world that can halt Arsenal momentum, it’s US!!!

  12. Proverb says:

    We had been getting some bad results, now it is up to us to make up the ground and catch Manchester United.

  13. Gingerprince18 says:

    @denton davey

    ““They have some great players. What they are missing though is a striker.”

    I think when people talk about Arsenal’s striker its not about quality. Most of us believe that Giroud is a quality forward who is good at holding ball and bring other into play. I believe most of us talking about their depth, What will happen when if Giroud get injured. Who will step up to replace Giroud. Unless Giroud is injury free until January and Wenger sign another quality striker I will not put my money on them winning the League.

  14. NairobiRed says:

    @dayus
    I don’t want to look like I disagree with everything you say, but that’s not how bayern play are playing. Mandzukic doesn’t hold the ball up for bayern because that’s not the game plan. Bayern play a highly intensive game with lot of pressing high up and quick, sharp, short passing. Mandzukic has room to play anywhere in the front row. He can be seen supporting whichever wing the ball is coming through and pulling the centre backs off the middle of the goal but never holding up the ball ala giroud or drogba.

  15. Proverb says:

    I can’t believe it. I can’t believe it. Football. Bloody hell.

  16. denton davey says:

    GingerPrince18 @ 16:00: “talking about their depth, What will happen when if Giroud get injured.”

    For sure, they wouldn’t go with Bendtner so I reckon that TheWhinger would take a page out of ASRoma’s play-book and go with a 4-6-0 formation.

    It’s also not beyond the realm of the possible that in the summer TheArse might go hard-and-heavy for Mandzukic who will be pushed aside when Lewandowski moves to Bayern. That scenario might be “fantasy footie” but it sure makes sense (which is probably why it won’t happen !)

    By the way, I’m trying NOT to watch Sunderland hold on – but how good was it to see BigBadWesleyBrown send a defence-splitting pass to Phil Bardsley. Two of Manchester’s finest. Those guys were TrueReds and must be immensely-enjoying putting a stick in the spokes of the ManShitty bike.

  17. edcunited1878 says:

    First serious adversity to affect Arsenal on a match day….Mertesacker and Arteta sent home due to illness. Flamini is in the squad however.

  18. montanared says:

    United to win 3-1 today, spurs lose at newcastle, stealth united at it again in the north east. Bardsley, assisted by Brown, 1-0. if results hold and United win we will leapfrog City, spurs and everton and be one point behind Chelsea. Huge game this afternoon, C’mon you reds!!!!!!!!!

  19. Gingerprince18 says:

    @denton davey

    Yes mate. It was good to see United old boys, Brown, O’shea and Bardsley playing brilliantly so far against our rival. I miss Big Bad Wesley Brown!!!

  20. Sonneveld says:

    7.12 PM Sunday, 10 November 2013
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    Manchester United

    1 De Gea
    12 Smalling
    5 Ferdinand
    15 Vidic
    3 Evra
    25 Valencia
    31 Fellaini
    11 Giggs
    26 Kagawa
    10 Rooney
    14 Hernandez

  21. UnitedFaithful says:

    As much as I hate that smug faced wenger he has really breathed life into Arsenal.Although they are playing fluid football what I have been most impressed by is their work of the ball,they really work hard press the opposition high up the pitch and have conceded less than any team in the Premier League if i am right.For the past couple of years we have had problems playing against opposition who press high up the pitch as United have lacked that cohesion which is needed to keep possession when needed.But against Sociedad I felt we were strong as a Unit much more than we were at OT.If the team as a Unit performs well then i am very confident of our chances.

  22. Gingerprince18 says:

    UNITED XI: De Gea; Smalling, Vidic, Evans, Evra; Valencia, Jones, Carrick, Kagawa; Rooney, van Persie

    Lindegaard, Giggs, Chicharito, Nani, Cleverley, Fellaini, Januzaj

  23. Sonneveld says:

    that is from one website. not guaranteed

  24. montanared says:

    really?

  25. montanared says:

    I really hope the Gingerprince has better info than Sonnerveld.

  26. Zaha says:

    De Gea
    Smalling-Vidic-Evans-Evra
    Carrick-Jones
    Valencia-Rooney-Kagawa
    Rvp

  27. xyz says:

    No defensive subs…..guess Tony can drop and smalling can cover centre back, but means only 1 defensive sub…..fingers crossed no injuries!

    Good team. Predictable but hard to argue with (assuming Rafael injured). Rooney is going to have to do a defensive shift in midfield when Arsenal have the ball.

  28. Sonneveld says:

    He does

    Sorry the second line-up is correct

  29. Zaha says:

    I would have put januzaj for Kagawa and Valencia and Nani as our right side tbh

  30. montanared says:

    Sonneneld are trying to give us a heart attack or what?
    off to other thread.

  31. Proverb says:

    Shitty down

  32. UnitedFaithful says:

    Renties and bitters dropping points.Time to capitalize.

  33. red75 says:

    After the other results this weekend, it would be disappointing if we don’t capitalise…I think we will win 1-0. Just got a feeling tht Utd will want it more than Arsenal today similar to when we beat chelski with Fletcher’s header or when we beat the ‘invincibles’ 2-0…here’s hoping I’m right!

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