United dominate the Arsenal horizon, fires being stoked but in a nice way. Indeed, the absence of insults means that the compliments are being passed around in a Chuckle Brothers way, ‘From me, to you’.
Fergie started it all,
Arsenal have had a great start
which in years gone by would have been followed by some witticism about how easy the fixtures had been but not this time. Age has truly mellowed or perhaps Arsene’s putdown about ‘everyone thinks they have the prettiest wife’ hit home the message that he can be as ascerbic as the Scot.
Indeed, it is the past from where the damning comes. Bryan Robson believes that Manchester United have too much experience for Arsenal, conveniently forgetting that the arguments he uses were the same used against his former club last season. Indeed, Robson short term memory loss is worse than previously thought as he seems to have the ability to forget what he has said in the previous thirty seconds,
The players at the two clubs and the two managers will be looking to stamp their authority on this league this year. If one wins, it is a big statement even though it is early on in the season. But even if Arsenal win, I see United coming back past them in the long term
Some good old fashioned bias then but never fear, Robson was looking at this objectively,
I am not just being biased, but looking at it constructively: Manchester United will win the title
Arsene disagrees with him, of course,
The difference from last season is that the players are growing…You must remember they are still very, very young and they just needed to grow. But even last season, you could see the quality we had because we always did well in the big games
Whilst previous form is no indication of the future, more telling is the confident manner in which they dominated the game at Anfield, constantly putting Liverpool on the back foot. Such warnings cannot be ignored. Obviously United are a far better side than Liverpool yet still Arsenal are being dismissed. It is not a bad thing; being an underdog carries less media expectation which fuels some wild predictions from fans. You only had to look at the build up to the Liverpool game where there were claims of thrashings about to come. A sense of perspective is needed; a superb total from these two games would have been six, four points is good, two is not a disaster as it means two rivals could not either close a gap or steal a march on us.
Emmanuel Adebayor at least tried to hark back to the bitter old days by revealing that he rejected the overtures of Fergie in the summmer,
It was very flattering for me and gave me confidence that I am a good footballer because, if a team like Manchester want to get me, it proves I’m doing things right. But don’t forget I am already at a massive club and we have a fantastic team.
The players themselves are being generally supportive of each other to the point of high praise. Fabregas came out yesterday and said
We feel very secure when Manuel is between the posts. I’ve known him for three years and I know what he is capable of.
Gradually, the doubts that some have are being eroded and whilst I do not believe him to be the long term solution as Arsene searches for a replacement for Lehmann, Almunia is not being given the credit he deserves for his part in the start to the season. Let’s face it, we have not yet lost a game when he was in goal and we have dropped but one point and that deserves some praise rather than the brickbats that are all too readily handed out in some quarters.
Alex Hleb has been given a good write-up in this morning’s Guardian and frankly there is not much more to add to it, such has been his good form other than to say the recognition and praise is thoroughly deserved.
Off the pitch though, the reasons for Platini’s outburst become a little clearer. The Daily Telegraph reports that Arsenal are prime opponents against his plan to reduce the representation of the ECL.
The matter came to a head two weeks ago at a meeting of the G14 management board where Keith Edelman, the Arsenal managing director, told fellow senior officials from Barcelona, Porto, Juventus, Barcelona and Bayern Munich that the only way to force Platini to change his mind was to threaten Uefa with a boycott or a breakaway.
Edelman is understood to feel that Platini, who was elected Uefa president in January on the back of promising more places in the Champions League to smaller countries, is acting out of political rather than sporting interest.
Which is probably true; how often has a politician truly altruistically? No, I struggled with that one as well. Platini’s problem, aside from having a brain that is regularly disengaged from his mouth, is that even the romantics such as I recognise that his proposals will not engender a shift in power away from the big clubs that he is desperate to achieve. Even under the pure knockout competition format, how many small clubs won the European Cup? Nowhere near as many as the large ones. Under current conditions, all that will happen is that the list of winners will be more polarised towards big clubs if he includes more small nation champions. Does that improve the competition? Hardly. And yes, I know Arsenal benefit from UEFA’s greed so I am obviously biased in that respect.
Mind you, are the G-14 any better than UEFA. A ‘source’ is quoted as saying,
Therefore we have got to do our own thing and the only way to exert pressure is to say we won’t play in the Champions League if he goes his own way
Well, that is, as I understand it, Platini’s general idea…