In a largely fancy-free game, the Red Devils narrowly edged out London Borough of Islington’s finest. More than just a game was at stake and Arsenal, in spite of their robust play, were largely curtained by Manchester United. A scoreless draw would have been perfect but we are left asking why one more time.
For some reason, key players were absent when it mattered most and for the first time this season, Samir Nasri, the team’s leading light so far, was without his newly-found sparkle.
Even with the unconventional goal he conceded, Polish Goalkeeper Szczesny was the best player for the yellow-shirted side. It was too much of a gamble bringing in club captain Fabregas, and it showed as he was distinctly out of form.
His best intentions aside, the manager wasted a substitution.
Quietly, whispers of "Is Theo Walcott now a super sub?" are growing.
Experience counts for much in football, and while youthful ability might get a team far it’s seasoning that would get a team through battles however finely balanced the situations may seem. To think that United blew a chance to increase their lead when Wayne Rooney sent a penalty kick sky bound strengthened the fact that winning is every bit mental as it is physical.
Although Arsenal was subdued tactically, they were not manhandled or intimidated in the process. Indeed, it was a rare but pleasant sight watching the Gunners dishing it out; and giving as much as they received. It gladdened the heart to see some mettle on display when their silky wand deserted them. One could be excused for thinking, for a split-second, that George Graham was back as Team Manager.
If anything was to be taken from Old Trafford, it should be an understanding of what it takes to be champions and the dogged spirit required to produce such. Arsenal, notwithstanding their losses to two of their big rivals—Chelsea and Man United—are not that far from winning something this year.
The magic formula would seem to be finding a way of combining today’s show of physical mettle with their usual colorful football.
Should they do that, then the ghost of Old Trafford would be buried finally and rightfully so.
Take heart bravehearts!