Many have compared Manchester United’s 3-1 victory over Arsenal at the Emirates last night to Manny Paquiao’s demolition of Ricky Hatton. In all honesty, it is clear to see the similarities – Hatton and Arsenal were brushed aside by opponents with more speed, power and all round ability.
The intention of this article isn’t to wax lyrical about Manchester Untied though. They were very professional on the night and showed why they are European champions. For the record, they will probably retain their trophy.
Instead, it seems significant to see how this result can affect Arsenal. First of all, it means that another season has passed by without a trophy. The last piece of silverware they picked up was the FA Cup in 2005.
For a club of Arsenal’s size, this isn’t really good enough. Arsene Wenger has been a fantastic servant to English football, the Premier League and of course Arsenal, but how long can a club with their pedigree go without having something to show for their success?
It was mentioned in the build up to the Champions League games with Manchester United that the relationship between Wenger and Sir Alex Ferguson had improved in recent times. The reason for this is simple though – Ferguson and Manchester Untied no longer see Arsenal as a threat.
It is no coincidence that Ferguson and Rafael Benitez have been the main ‘mind-game’ operators this season as their teams aren’t to far away from each other in terms of the Premier League title.
Arsenal on the other hand have only made their way into 4th position in the last month or so. At one point, it seemed as though Aston Villa would pip them to a place in next year’s Champions League. This would have been devastating.
There have been murmurs of Wenger coming to the end of his spell in charge in the past, but don’t be surprised if this goes up a notch between now and the end of the season. There is only so long that the word ‘potential’ can be used after all.
In the end, it will come down to what Arsenal want to achieve as a club. Are they happy being a top-four Premier League side with lots of young players who often fall short of the major prizes? Or do they want to become the Champions of England, Europe and the World like Manchester United?
The answer, presumably, is the latter. Arsenal is such a fantastic club. They have brilliant fans, a marvelous stadium and some hugely talented players. So why haven’t they been able to win some silverware in recent years?
This question probably can’t be answered with a simple response. However, could one reason be that Wenger has become obsessed with bringing the youngsters through? Should he look to bring more experienced professionals to the club? Should he bring in more players like Andrei Arshavin who have proven themselves at the highest level?
The most successful Arsenal team of recent years, ‘The Invincibles,” contained a lot of experienced players. Martin Keown, Patrick Viera, Thierry Henry, Robert Pires and Dennis Bergkamp to name just a few.
With this in mind, why has such a different approach been adopted in the last two or three years? Considering Arsenal’s lack of trophies, should they have taken the Carling Cup more seriously and played their strongest team throughout? Silverware is silverware!
I appreciate that lots of questions have been asked in this article. It’s just that I am desperate to find out everyone’s views on Arsenal’s situation. They are a fantastic team to watch and provide plenty of entertainment; it’s just that this might not be good enough anymore.
One final question – if Wenger refused to budge from his current youth policy, is it possible that he could be asked to move on? Is this something Arsenal fans are even considering?
The gulf between Manchester United and Arsenal was so great over the two matches and this will act as a real eye opener for the Gunners. Perhaps it is the beginning of the end for the current regime.
Looking forward to your views on this.