How far have they fallen?
That is my first thought when the likes of Sky Sports attempt to big up this Sunday’s game against Manchester United like it is a massive game.
Back 15 years ago, clashes between Manchester United and Arsenal were one of the key fixtures of the season. 1st v 2nd. The winner often defined the title race. The 2016/17 version of the game is simply a foot note in the Premier League. Both teams outside of the top 4, between them making 6th place their own this season.
In the late 90’s / early 00’s, Arsenal and Manchester United were the two best sides in the country. Now they are not even the two best sides in their respective cities. Their dramatic fall is akin to Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour. No longer a force. In a downward spiral.
Arsenal have not won the league since 2004, and barely been competitive in the Premiership since then. This will be Manchester United’s 4th season without as league title – for a club who won 13 from 20 that is a long time.
It is the fall from grace of Manchester United that should be a warning to all clubs that success is temporary. Having won 7 out of 9 Premier League titles in the later years of Sir Alex Ferguson, their recent finishes of 7th, 4th & 5th, coupled with a likely finish of 5/6th this further highlights how consistently brilliant they were under Ferguson.
The season is not yet over, however. Despite both being poor, neither side is a million miles from Liverpool or Manchester City.
If all sides win their game in hand, there will be 3 points separating Liverpool in 3rd and Arsenal in 6th. And that is what makes this weekend key for Arsenal and Manchester United. Win and you still have a chance in the top 4, lose and you might as well pack up now and head to the bench.
The ironic thing is despite a poor league form this year, the sides could end up splitting 3 trophies between them. Manchester United have already won the League Cup, and have one foot in the UEFA Cup final, whilst Arsenal have a season ending clash with Chelsea at Wembley to look towards.
For all the talk, all the progression of the likes of Liverpool and Spurs, they will both finish the season without a trophy, whilst their big rivals could point to silverware in the cabinet, albeit with minor trophies.
With Jose Mourinho talking about resting players for this weekend, Arsenal are favourites to win on Sunday with Betvictor Bookmakers Review having Arsenal at Evens to win. If they win, top 4 is on. A lose for either side and they might as well rest players for the rest of the league campaign for their (potential) upcoming cup finals.