Winning has a magic quality about it. No matter how a team plays in the 90 minutes, as long as they win, their performance is seemingly erased from people’s memories. We don’t remember the game. We remember who won.
Judging by how two English clubs did during the past week, they’ll be glad that soccer fans remember the result, not the performance. The two teams in question are Manchester City and Arsenal.
To be fair, I thought Arsenal played pretty well against Marseille. They left it late in the game to grab the winner when Aaron Ramsey slotted the ball home in the 92nd minute, but all Arsenal fans (and Arsene Wenger) will care about is the precious victory.
The same goes for Manchester City where Sergio Aguero did one better than Ramsey by waiting until the 93rd minute to score his goal.
In the example of Manchester City, their performance Tuesday night against Villarreal was pathetic. They looked absolutely awful. Stray passes, timid attacks and a lack of inspiration. It was as if City were playing a meaningless preseason friendly, not a crucial Champions League match. Edin Dzeko, especially, was dreadful with so many missed chances and lack of composure on the ball.
But the win is what matters, and City now go into Sunday’s game full of confidence thanks to a late goal, despite playing one of their worst matches in quite some time (fair play to Villarreal who defended well for the entire match).
Arsenal meanwhile will look back at their game last weekend against Sunderland and will be thankful that they gained the three points. In that game, Arsenal was flat. Sunderland gave the Gunners a run for their money and could have easily drawn or won the match. But as the days go by, that impressive display by Sunderland will become foggier and foggier.
The margin between victory and disaster is so thin. Had Ramsey and Aguero not scored those goals, the pressure would have been immense on both Wenger and Roberto Mancini for putting their clubs in a position to not qualify for the next round of the Champions League. The same goes for Arsenal in their game against Sunderland. If Robin van Persie hadn’t scored the two goals for the Gunners, Wenger would be in an even more precarious position now than he was last weekend.
Yet both Wenger and Mancini can now breathe a huge sigh of relief before the pressure crushes down on them again this weekend when they play Stoke City and Manchester United respectively.
No rest for the wicked, ‘eh?