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Arsenal Versus Manchester United: League Of Legends

LoL

Cormac was discussing the match yesterday. He and my daughter’s boyfriend were very dismissive of the team. We may have enjoyed some early dominance they agreed, but somehow we always manage to flatter to deceive, to pull an ignominious defeat out of the hat when ostensibly playing well. I reclined into the unseasonal October sunshine, warm and relaxed, nodding sagely to myself, and fully in accord with the two young men.

As a cloud passes the sun so a shadow of a thought distracted me in my reverie. A frown pleated the otherwise untroubled forehead and it gradually dawned upon me. Neither my son nor my daughter’s boyfriend have the least knowledge of nor interest in football, never mind Arsenal. This is of course a stain on my character.

As a parent we know we will not be able to predict nor overly influence the significant attitudes our offspring will assume as they pass from awkward adolescence into adulthood. They will vote with their consciences, specialise in subjects of their own choosing, dress how they like and make their own friends regardless of what we think. We can make only one guarantee. There is a solitary area of their lives we know we can affect. In fact it is a solemn and traditional duty. To this end I told all of my children, as soon as they were old enough to understand me, there was nothing they could do in their lives to disappoint me. I would be the one to visit them in prison no matter how heinous their crimes, I would always stand by them, always be there for them. Unconditional love meant just that.

Except. Except for just one thing. If they ever, for even one fleeting moment considered supporting any team other than Arsenal then they knew where the door was and any dreams they may have been harbouring about inheriting my debts they could forget then and there.

I need not have bothered, they don’t even like football. None of them. So what were the lads discussing? Enquiries produced the surprising answer. E Sports. Video games, to you and I. It transpires there is a whole world of computer gamers, organised into national and international leagues, with their own hierarchies, supporter groups, sponsors, rivalries, high profile transfers, the lot. These guys take the thing every bit as seriously as we do football and with only a couple of significant differences – the commentators (or shout casters as they are rather splendidly known) are widely respected and play an important role in spectators’ enjoyment, also fans choose which country they support, their own nationality is irrelevant – they follow their sports with just as much fervour as we do ours.

The comment which rang the loudest bell with me came when I asked who had the strongest team. Cormac and George exchanged rueful glances, pursed their lips and muttered “The Koreans”. I detected a certain asperity in their tone and when I asked why my son informed me “They are the best, there’s no doubt about that, the play the best game. But the best team winning all the time just gets boring no matter how good they are.”

I returned to my seat to mull. You’ll find you mull a lot more the older you get. It burns few calories and doesn’t require any complicated equipment. The main thrust of my mulling was today’s encounter with Manchester United. For a very long time I disliked the red Mancunians above all other teams. Before that I can recall not warming to the red half of Liverpool over much and when my interest in football was first kindled it was Leeds United that made my normally benign features sour to a grimace. Nowadays? Chelsea. Without question.

The only poisonous rivalry that never changes is, it seems, that involving local teams. If either daughter brought home a Bristol City fan they had just as well turn in their latch keys without further ado. I suppose this is why the North London contingent of our fan-base still holds Spurs in the lowest esteem and probably always has done. So what lessons can I draw from Cormac’s observation? Did I really detest Man United for all those years simply because they kept winning? Was there nothing in all those hours you and I have spent discussing the refereeing bias, Fergie time, the Old Trafford penalty phenomenon and the rest? Is there a pan sports truth that people will rebel against whoever is successful then find reasons after the fact to support their position?

My antipathy towards United certainly abated during the Moyes era, and even now that they are resurgent under Van Gaal I don’t have the same depth of loathing for them as I used to do. Rooney excepted of course. Perhaps I shouldn’t gaze too closely towards my navel on this one. It wouldn’t do to suggest that my bitterest footballing rivalries are all born of petty jealousy. Hard to maintain the moral high ground under such conditions isn’t it?

So what of our opponents today? This current incarnation of Man United sits at the top of the current form table. We are one place below them. In fact the form table looks a bit like the league table used to look in the good old days. A perusal of the six most recent results tells us both sides have won four, drawn one and lost one. The subtle difference being we have lost one of our last two whilst they are on a three game winning streak. Which neatly sums up the two sides. Both doing well but our recent results suggests a tendency towards the unpredictable.

The form table, while unable to lie, does mask a certain truth. The defeat which we suffered had as much to do with Mike Dean as with our footballing performance. The Champions League may have started in a forgettable way for us but in the league we have been, if not rampant, then steadily improving. This should be a humdinger of a game. Chelsea’s collapse combined with City’s unpredictability has left the door to the top tantalisingly ajar and the sleeping giants of the Premier League must be sniffing the air, scenting weakness in the bloated cash rich beasts who so rudely trampled all over their one time dominance of the landscape.

Today is a test for both sides, the chance for our players to shuck off the disappointment of their midweek Greek théâtre de l’absurde and for United to prove their recent form has not been a flash in the pan. One might assume with the stakes so high and both teams in reasonably good nick that a draw would be the favourite result. I believe this season is shaping up to be the least predictable, most open contest in a long time and the team that can string a run of victories together could well establish a very important lead over the other pretenders to the throne. To that end I’ll be amazed if both sides don’t go for it. LVG may be taken in by the silly idea that we have a suspect defence (says so in the papers ergo it must be true) and if so our lightning counter attacking game will be well suited to capitalise on any misplaced bravado.

We have much to be positive about right now. Theo keeps scoring, Alexis is back to his best and the two of them combined superbly in their last match together. Aaron Ramsey was head and shoulders above every other player when he came on as a second half substitute on Tuesday and with him and Mesut supplying our fast and in form goal scorers United will need to defend very well to stop us.

I don’t watch teams unless they play against us (I confess I’ve made an exception where Chelsea are concerned – that’s a gift that just keeps giving) so I’ve had to dig around to find out who is currently doing the business for our visitors. Juan Mata, so says the Manchester Evening News, has been involved in forty four percent of United’s goals so far and as such has been ‘pivotal’ to their start to 2015/16. Metro thinks Martial is the signing of the season. Which in the first week of October is an hilarious assertion even for a newspaper to make. The moment he was injured, Luke Shaw was immediately promoted by pundits far and wide to Man United’s best player, which smells of cant to me. As reprehensible as he may appear, Rooney has an irritating habit of doing well against us, so we need to hope his goal scoring problems continue for at least another game. What he does in an England shirt is, for me, a matter of complete indifference.

So there you have it. My prediction is for another fast, exciting game much like that between ourselves and Leicester. Plenty of goals and a feast of fun for those fortunate enough to be in attendance. If you’re one of those who shakes a weary head and says ‘Pah’ and confidently anticipates a dour struggle settled by a dubious penalty then perhaps you are following the wrong sport. Optimism and excited expectancy costs precisely the same as pessimism you know. Although come to think of it, given what I discovered yesterday about the hitherto unknown world of Electronic Sports it probably doesn’t matter what game you choose. It isn’t the team, the style or even the format which dictates your response to the roller coaster ride, it’s you.

About steww

Arsenal, books, photography, bass guitar, dog walking, mountain biking, being on the radio, writing, talking too much, failing, making mistakes, buggering on regardless.

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88 comments on “Arsenal Versus Manchester United: League Of Legends

  1. Magic stuff.Ahhh, a few days rest from the AAA. Lets face it the lads could have had 6 or so.How nice it is to be the Arse creping out the Manure! “get off my land!!”
    Unwards and opwards!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Rodgers leave pool? no wonder they are all jealous of AW… He has paid his dues for arsenal though and fully deserves to retire at his own pace!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Well well well

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Happy days.
    That is how we can play. Yes, we dont always do it,but……………………no other PL club can do it.

    Liked by 5 people

  5. Liverpool sack Rodgers, I wonder is there thinking that they need to snap up Klopp or Ancelotti before CFC sack Mourinho and bring one of them in, or are they really hoping that when CFC sack Mourniho that LFC can hire him.

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  6. seen at the Emirates today

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  7. Happy 35th Birthday Tomas Rosicky

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Nice one stewwy. Some crackin comments as well. Now that is more like it. Good to see the lads come out inspired and put a mediocre United side to the sword. Odd selection from their manager but long may that continue. Really should have been 5 nil. Really hope Alexis is ok.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. this is what proves the bottom line of Tuesday… it was not about team selection, just about a team not playing well and being punished for mistakes!

    Liked by 3 people

  10. Alexis has a groin injury, but is still to join up with Chile for the interlull, crazy stuff

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  11. Every time those bozos bring that banner, we win.

    Liked by 4 people

  12. A couple of quotes from the Guardian’s match report:
    when they attack with this kind of attacking fluency it is a reminder of everything that is attractive about Wenger’s philosophy.
    and
    Wenger must be congratulated for the way his players played as if free of any self-doubt.
    ‘nough said.

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  13. remember that great DM who was the answer to all Arsenal’s midfield problems, Morgan Schneiderlin, just how average must he be, seeing as he can’t get in that “average” utd team, I say “average”, but going by the WOB, seeing as AFC won today, it is anything from average to shite.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. WENGER ON VICTORY, ALEXIS AND WALCOTT

    Arsène Wenger spoke to the media after his side’s 3-0 victory over Manchester United.
    Here’s a transcript of what the Arsenal manager said:

    on a good end to a difficult week…
    We won our last Premier League game 5-2 and we won here 3-0 so in the Premier League we have scored eight goals in two games against two difficult opponents. Overall it was a convincing performance. It was a strong response against Manchester United following our disappointment on Tuesday night. It shows the group is very united and very strong as well and from goalkeeper to No 9 everybody played very well, which is what you want.

    on the performances today…
    Everybody was very good today. Alexis was very efficient on top of that.

    on Tuesday’s response…
    That is what you want in games of that stature. I believe in the [first half] we started very strong and decided to press very high and play with great pace, and we did that very well. After in the second half we decided to be disciplined, control the result and we did that very well. We had two aspects in our game that was pleasing and we were convincing today. It gives us a strong answer to all the questions raised in the week.

    on not beating Manchester United in the Premier League for a while…
    We won last year in a very important FA Cup game at Old Trafford, so we won last year. For us it was a massive game when we were in the FA Cup. It is true that they won here last year and it is true as well that for a few years in the Premier League we did not win against them but it just shows if you turn up with the right performance you win.

    on Arsenal’s response…
    I’ve been at the club for 19 years and I know what you want is a strong response in a big game when you have a big disapointment. But we [took it in] perspective and focused on what it is important. It’s us and not too much what was said and we focused on what is important in the game and that is part of being at the top level. The pressure on any disappointment today is massive and it’s maybe a little bit more difficult to deal with it but we did well.
    on Walcott…
    I must say Walcott had a hugely committed performance today in a hugely convincing way. He didn’t score but I like to praise the strikers when they don’t score and contribute and give assists. He was involved in two goals – Ozil’s and Alexis’ [second] one. He did really fight today and showed he can fight, commit and protect the ball as well. He is gaining some aspects of his game as a centre forward and they are improving.

    on if that was Walcott’s best performance for the club…
    In this position, certainly. The day he was injured here he had a great game against Tottenham and I would put that up there.

    on if Walcott as a No 9 convinces…
    Yes, I was always. You were not convinced. When a guy plays well it is always easy to find people who were convinced.

    on Alexis…
    He has a little groin problem. Unfortunately he goes to Chile. You cannot stop him from going to Chile and he loves so much to play for his country and he will play against Brazil [on Friday] and Peru [next] Tuesday so the game at home against Brazil he will not want to miss. Hopefully he will come back in good shape.

    on Brendan Rodgers being sacked…
    I’m always sad when that happens as I think he is a quality manager. Unfortunately the pressure is always bigger on the managers. I think what he has done at Liverpool, he was very unlucky to not win the Premier League. He was closest certainly to winning the Premier League in all the managers that have been working for the club but that is the way it goes now and I wish him good luck. I’m sure he will find a job again.

    on Bellerin…
    He has improved defensively and I think his defensive performance was average against Olympiacos, like most of our players on Tuesday night. On that front we responded very well and he was part of that. He is very good in transition from defence to attack but even in the air he was good today and he won some surprising headers. He is 20 years old and when you look at what he is doing already I think he has a great future.

    on maintaining the form…
    My plan is to pray now that everyone comes back from international games without any injury because we have a small group. We play at Watford straight away and on Tuesday night here against Bayern Munich. We will need the same kind of performance.

    on making a statement in the title race…
    To win in a big game is always a statement. We are in in it, we are two points off the league leaders, Manchester City, so I hope that result today will give us belief to fight for it.

    Copyright 2015 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from

    Read more at http://www.arsenal.com/news/news-archive/20151004/wenger-on-victory-alexis-and-walcott#KFhOjurYjDprstCf.99

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  15. le Coq on a high!

    Liked by 2 people

  16. great photo

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  17. sportingintelligence ‏@sportingintel 2h2 hours ago
    Following Brendan Rodgers’ sacking, second longest serving manager in PL now is Eddie Howe (2 yrs 356 days) after Wenger (19 years, 3 days).

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  18. van purse strings enjoying his new team’s performance

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  19. isn’t it so very odd that no journo asked Wenger about Jose’s comments today in his post match press call, it was all some of them wanted to talk about in the pre match press call

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Three points! Clean sheet. Whoop whoop!

    Liked by 3 people

  21. Schneiderlin or whatever he’s called isnt fit to shine to Le Coqs boots. Just a different class.

    Boy are we lucky to have such a great manager. Just take a quick look around and tell me he isnt one of the best. Buffoonery at its finest Id say.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. title is not won after 8 games… even the last team at present is mathematically still in it! they should stop asking that particular question about who is in the titles race till about feb when people have started playing their second round of matches!

    Liked by 2 people

  23. It’s always great when The Arsenal play to their level – no one can live with them. That was a very pleasing performance and result. Let’s hope its the start of a little run that does not get derailed by the international break.

    P.S. very pleased for Ospina that he got a respectful reception when announced as sub

    Liked by 5 people

  24. I did laugh at this… LOL… a match day as an arsenal fan.

    Arsene’s Eyes ‏@Arsenes_Eyes 3h3 hours ago

    Has the #Arsenal game started yet? Feels like it should be over already, but I don’t feel like I’ve had a heart attack so it can’t have.

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  25. paul merson back on the hard stuff

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  26. Great day, great win, great weekend and Maureen giving it the please me don’t sack me speech.
    That Wenger out banner is becoming a bit of a lucky charm. With the dicks displaying it wearing more egg than a record breaking omelette.
    All the scouse media are saying anncelotti is already in place. They are all in agreement that the owners don’t rate klopp so the wobs still have their savour.
    Only eight games gone but at the moment we seem to much more efficient than in previous seasons.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Merson also said he knew exactly how the game would go manure would sit deep ARSENAL would bomb on, manure would feed shrek who would feed martial who would murder per and manure would come away with an easy win. That worked out well for him.

    Liked by 2 people

  28. So – Advocaat and Brenda gone already – only 8 games played. McClaren will surely be next. I have a feeling Maureen will survive – his squad is simply too strong for the current bad run to continue. Unless of course they contrive a loss to Villa – that really would be a hoot.
    And Arsène goes rolling on. He’ll leave in his own time. Too good a manager to be forced out. Did you see the switch he made today in the second half? Bringing Ramsey infield to counter the extra weight LvG had put in there with Fellaini. And Wenger doesn’t do tactics – my arse(nal).
    Goddam interlull – two weeks till the next game. I wish I knew how to hibernate.

    Liked by 2 people

  29. That’s why Merson is a pundit rather than a manager!

    Liked by 1 person

  30. I thought before the game LvG was tempting fate with his “when we beat Arsenal” (i.e. when, not if). As if the Arsenal team needed more motivation.

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  31. Let’s not forget either that it could have been 7-0 today – Ramsey’s miss, Mesut had a good chance he put straight at De Gea, as did Ollie, then Ox’s chip which came back off the bar.

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  32. passenal the fact Merson is even a pundit is a sad indictment of the state of football coverage on our TV screens.

    by the way did anyone see Henry Winter on Match of the day 2 this morning, he basically admitted that English football journos, unlike their European counterparts, are not really interested in the football, and only want to create big headlines, and sensational stories, and tried to excuse it by reasoning that the BPL don’t have good enough players for them to talk about. Again this in a sad indictment on the state of football coverage in England, and on the BBC for none of the other panelists or the presenter calling him on it.

    Liked by 1 person

  33. Liverpool should hire Carragher and Neville as their new management team, after all they have all the answers.

    Liked by 1 person

  34. eduardo… they are not brave enough to take the role… i remember shearer when the chips were down for Newcastle… it was clear that talk is cheap compared to action!

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  35. I wonder will Neville say

    Arsenal played today like it was a stroll in the park

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  36. Josh James ‏@JoshJJames78 3h3 hours ago
    Arsenal have won each of their last 21 games when scoring first, and 33 of the past 34

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  37. some interesting comments from Wenger about a certain agent he has never done a transfer with

    http://www.london24.com/sport/football/clubs/arsenal/wenger_reveals_why_he_hasn_t_dealt_with_super_agent_jorge_mendes_1_4257102

    Liked by 1 person

  38. A brilliant performance and the perfect response. Could easily have has six or seven

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