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Arsenal slip up as Chelsea & United cash in

March 28, 2010

It was at this very ground last year where Arsenal’s title challenge seemed to stall and peter out, not in the least down to ‘that’ injury to Eduardo. Over a year on and Arsene Wenger’s face tells the story as he sees his side concede an injury time equalizer at St. Andrews. Kevin Phillips was the man, hitting his 250th career league goal, and sending the Blues fans into raptures as they celebrate a truly remarkable year in the top flight.

Whilst Arsene and his boys were dropping points in the Midlands, Messrs. Ferguson and Ancelotti were enjoying their respective sides rip apart Bolton and Villa, the latter challengers for that 4th Champions League spot which has seemed so unbreakable in recent years.

A Wayne Rooneyless Manchester United faced a potentially tricky trip, albeit short trip, to the Reebok Stadium where Owen Coyle had turned his Wanderers side into a resilient, competitive outfit. Bolton have played United’s nemesis in recent years, but with so much at stake for the visitors, they weren’t going to let their Lancashire rivals spoil the party. Jlloyd Samuel gave the Red Devils a helping left foot as he calmly, coolly, and collectively placed the ball into Jussi Jaaskelainen’s bottom right corner to give the visitors a lead. Rooney would have been proud. Dimitar Berbatov doubled the lead after Darren Fletcher’s shot was pushed out by the Finland number 1, and shortly afterwards made it 3-0, before Darren Gibson rounded off the victory with a smart finish late on.

Meanwhile, Frank Lampard was enjoying himself at Stamford Bridge, as he scored 4 in a 7-1 demolition of Martin O’Neill’s Aston Villa. Florent Malouda (2), and Salomon Kalou also got themselves on the scoresheet, with John Carew netting Villa’s solitary goal.

So with such strong messages sent out by United and Chelsea, and with Arsenal dropping points at St. Andrews, the title race takes another turn. For me, and as much as it pains me to say it, United have taken another step towards lifting the trophy for a record 19th time, thus leapfrogging Liverpool as the most successful top division team in history. Even without Wayne Rooney, and missing Rio Ferdinand at the back, United look a side who are unbeatable, and their fantastic record against the likes of Arsenal and Chelsea in recent times means that they surely have to be favourites. Chelsea have certainly got themselves back in the mix after so many people had written them off at Ewood Park a week or so ago. 12 goals in their last 2 games is impressive reading, but they still have some tough obstacles to come and I can’t see them finishing above United at the end of the season.

Of course, next weekend is the ‘big one’. Chelsea go to Old Trafford in a match that they will feel is a must win if they are to gain advantage over United in the race for the title. They then face tough trips to Spurs and Liverpool plus home games against Stoke, Wigan, and Bolton, which they will feel is 9 points in the bag. With United still in the Champions League, there could be grounds to argue that fatigue may play a part, and the distraction of winning Europe’s most illustrious competition is also possible. Also, looking at United’s run-in, the job is far from done. Other than that oh-so-important fixture against Chelsea, Ferguson’s side face visits from Spurs and Stoke, as well as trips to Blackburn, Sunderland, and The City of Manchester Stadium, where Roberto Mancini’s boys will be playing for a Champions League spot. It’s anybody’s guess.

I may be being a little too conclusive in writing Arsenal out of the race, but I just feel they lack conviction when it comes down to the last few matches of the season. They don’t seem to possess that extra ‘oomph’ that will get them over the line ahead of Manchester United and Chelsea. Their run-in includes a trip to London rivals Spurs, as well as home matches against Fulham and Manchester City, and if they are to bring home the glory to the supporters who haven’t witnessed such a thing since 2005, you have to feel that they need to win all 6 of their final games.

I hope United don’t win the trophy, and similarly I hope Arsenal do, but the realist inside me says that won’t be the case, and it’ll be Giggs and co. celebrating yet another Premier League title come 9th May.

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12 Comments leave one →
  1. Hong_gunner permalink
    March 28, 2010 4:20 pm

    No doubt Manutd had the upper hand this weekend and we blew it at St. Andrews. But hoping for chelsea to draw united next week, and us winning(which we should) against Wolves, we’ll again be back in it with 71-72-73 points in top 3 positions. But if man utd win next week, its literally over, one feels. I still feel man utd will drop a further 5 points till the end of the season, and i see no reason why the title race is over. The difficult part is, Arsenal MUST win all their 6 games. But hey, why not!

  2. Hush permalink
    March 28, 2010 4:24 pm

    With the score at 1-0 at St Andrews Nasri was through to make it two but failed to show the ruthlessness to end the game. Just the assurance of Chelsea and Man Utd when it comes to title run-ins gave them the edge over the weekend.

    It’s no time for excuses, but Fabregas’ injury which marred his performance plus the absence of Gallas, Verm and Van Persie, and Nasri and Arshavin from the starting line-up, left an XI that had a tough task ahead.

    Only another goalkeeping gaffe by Almunia this time ultimatelly cost us. We urgently need a reliable number 1, couldn’t help but admire Joe Hart in the opposite end.

  3. George permalink
    March 28, 2010 4:29 pm

    I can’t see United dropping 1 point, let alone 5. The Chelsea match next weekend is the only match that they could possibly slip up in but they’re so strong at home, no matter who they play against.

    Arsenal should have beaten Birm yesterday, no doubt about it. Definitely one for Almunia to forget about quickly.

  4. March 28, 2010 4:53 pm

    I can tell you Utd will not drop points to Spurs. We lose to Utd everytime home and away regardless how well we do in the league.

  5. Hong_gunner permalink
    March 28, 2010 5:11 pm

    Im expecting man utd to drop 2 points this saturday and hoping for the blue half of manchester to stamp their mark when they meet. Thats my predicted 5 points dropped for man utd. Lets see where we go from Saturday’s clash.

  6. looneygooner permalink
    March 28, 2010 5:13 pm

    Arsenal will drop more points, don’t kid yourself it’s between the Chavs and the Mancs and we haven’t feature in a title push since 2004. We had a good run but Wenger did have one eye on the Barca’ game, why play ‘Forest Gump Walcott’ when Eboue would have been more effective, and why leave Nasri and Arshavin on the bench, wrong tactics again Wenger, everyone knew Birmingham’s home form was good and what does Wenger do put out a weakened side for most of the game.

  7. March 28, 2010 9:44 pm

    The top three must all still play Tottenham, themselves in decent form and trying to fend off inconsistent Liverpool and underperforming Manchester City for fourth spot.
    In mid April both Chelsea and Arsenal visit White Hart Lane within a week, for sure Spurs, with their own ambitions, won’t be wanting to do their bitterest London rivals any favours at all. United play Tottenham at Old Trafford towards the end of the month, by which time things might be quite a bit clearer and a point apiece from the match wouldn’t be the end of the world for either club.

    Perhaps it wouldn’t be a bad thing if “The Arse” didn’t make it past Barcelona in the next fortnight. I wonder what is Arsene Whingers priority.

  8. March 29, 2010 6:16 am

    I don’t see United dropping many points. Chelsea and Man City are the only fixtures for them where they can drop any points but considering their performances against these teams, I doubt that.

  9. Hong_gunner permalink
    March 29, 2010 1:08 pm

    @looneygooner – im disappointed to say you’re a gunner. Give walcott a break. Arsha and Nasri both had knocks and weren’t starting. You have no clue about Arsenal. You’re a gloryhunter. To say you’re a gunner, be a gunner. Doesnt matter which team you support. I’d talk with any supporters(bar the highly idiotic scums) who talk sense and know their football. And support their team. If cant support, then provide logical arguments. Or else, fuck off. And by what sense was that a weakened side when we had our defensive dimension absent and needed some spark via pace upfront in walcott. The whole team wasnt gelling, i dont blame the single ‘just back from injury’ kid alone.

  10. March 29, 2010 1:50 pm

    what’s all this about Man U not dropping any points? Man U and Chelsea have shown they’re more than capable of the odd unexpected loss this season. A lot of twists and turns to go yet.

  11. George permalink
    March 29, 2010 6:30 pm

    The last time United lost was away at Everton in mid February. Other than that you have to go back another month for when they lost to City in the Cup, and back ANOTHER month for their last league defeat before Everton. So the odds are United won’t lose too many points during the remainder of the season. When there’s so much to play for, United are at their best. This season will be no different.

  12. April 1, 2010 6:50 pm

    Cant wait for this match. Been waiting all year for this. :)

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