This morning I came across a video on my Facebook fed, it was highlights of the 1991 Manchester United v Arsenal game. The famous game which saw a 21 man bust up (David Seaman acting the pacifist), the game which led to Arsenal being deducted 2 points, the game which resulted in a 1-0 victory for The Arsenal.
The reason I mention the game, and the video, is due to the opening line by the commentator of the highlights:
“Back in the league Arsenal faced their first real heavyweight contest of the season, Manchester United away at Old Trafford.”
Fast forward 22 years, and 21 days, Arsenal are facing a similar prospect. With all pundits still claiming that Arsenal will not win the league (Manchester City – currently 6 points behind – and Chelsea – Currently losing to WBA 2-1 are favourites.) The thinking behind this, as we all know, is the feeling that Arsenal have yet to be tested.
A bit like back in 1991, commentators throughout the game will be saying tomorrows game against Manchester United will be our “first real heavyweight contest of the season’ despite us already having beaten Tottenham, Liverpool, Napoli & Borussia Dortmund. There is definitely a reluctance in the Manchester/Scouse led press to accept Arsenal as proper title challengers.
And what happens if we do beat Manchester United? Will they simply reprint the Wayne Rooney quotes:
“We’ll have to wait and see where Arsenal are in March.”
Or will they accept that we are finally title challengers? And what for Manchester United? Defeat for them will leave them 11 points behind in the title race. Surely we will see ‘Manchester United: A club in crisis’ headlines, and an official declaration by Alan Hansen et al that Manchester United are out of the title race? Or will they sweep it under the covers?
If Manchester United beat us, I can already see the headlines:
Arsenal lose first real test
Pundits will sit there telling the world that they told us so, declaring that Manchester United are in the title race, whilst Arsenal have no chance of the title. Remember, lose to United and we will still be top of the table.
All I know is that, like in 1991, the game tomorrow will be a feisty one, with Manchester United knowing it will be the end of their title defence if they lose, and Arsenal knowing that they can cement their place at the top of the league with victory.
An advantage tomorrow will be that we do not need to beat Manchester United at Old Trafford. We can sit back and catch them on the counter attack, as we did with Dortmund on Wednesday night. A draw is still a good result for us, it will not be for them.
Arsenal beat Manchester United in their first big test in 1991, and went on to win the league. Deja vu anyone?