Before we start writing-off Arsenal… 1


I don’t need to actually read them, I’ve seen enough on Twitter to know what the papers’ narrative will be from Old Trafford yesterday.

“Same old Arsenal, nice and pretty but lacking the belief and substance to knock-over a genuine title-contender.”

Fine, that’s a very easy article to write and deducing conclusions from single results is a growing Monday morning habit in football - but honestly, I’m not convinced that Arsenal’s defeat to Manchester United is all that relevant within the bigger context.

Arsene Wenger will be disappointed, naturally, because his side weren’t at their best and didn’t really take advantage of the embryonic state of their opponent’s confidence - but even so. Beating Manchester United is always perceived as a ‘statement’ victory, but in reality it’s just another three points - ‘statements’ exist in the media: they help fuel artificial story-lines and very little else. Article-after-article today will cite ‘things we learned’ or ‘conclusions we’ve drawn’ from yesterday, but they’re all a little contrived.

Had Arsenal been thumped in Manchester yesterday, then maybe that would have held a confidence-themed long-term significance, but as it was the defeat was really just the product of a slightly tired performance and a less-than-ideal series of late withdrawals due to illness.

We like making results into a big deal, and Sky Sports have rather forced us to buy-into the Grand Slam Sunday culture, but try to look beyond the ‘Manchester United are BACK’/’Arsenal AREN’T actually that good’ rhetoric over the next couple of days. Look at yesterday for what it is: a stand-alone fixture which didn’t really change the overall complexion of the Premier League table.

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