Last week, my article was a bit different to the regular two-game recap that I’d put out for the previous 27 weeks. I was a little worried when I finished it that I’d maybe jumped the gun in announcing the “death of Arsenal Football Club.” I was nervous that I may have spoken too soon, and that Arsenal would come back with a vengeance following their torrid week.
“The curse of the commentator,” is an often used phrase in sports broadcasting, and it was one I was deftly afraid of, one I found myself repeating for the three days between Arsenals 3-0 loss to Manchester City and their game away at Brighton and Hove Albion over the weekend.
After all, how could a front line of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette and Danny Welbeck not simply score more than Brighton? Well, luckily for me, they found a way.
If last week was the death of Arsenal, the 2-1 away defeat to Brighton was the funeral, and it wasn’t one of the good ones where everyone gets drunk and has a great time afterwards
Recent reports have suggested that Arsene Wenger has lost the dressing room, but he claims he “knows exactly where it is,” which shows Wenger’s willingness to go in to politics when his soccer career is over (which for all intents and purposes was about five years
Credit does have to go to Brighton however, as teams in the top six of the Premier League do too often take the brunt of the media coverage without recognition that the winning team actually did deserve it.
Brighton were 2-0 up before the 30-minute mark and defended incredibly well for the rest of the game to hold on.
Brighton midfielder Steve Sidwell, who is currently out injured, explained that the reason he knew Brighton could beat Arsenal was because of the Gunners’ lack of characters. There is “no fight, no desire, no passion to wear the shirt,” Sidwell said after the game, and it’s painfully true.
Arsenal truly haven’t had a strong voice in the dressing room since Robin Van Persie, and even then he was leagues behind the Arsenal teams of old with characters such as Martin Keown and David Seaman.
A counter argument often made is that players don’t come in those shapes and sized anymore, but you just have to look at players like Vincent Kompany and Paul Pogba at Manchester City and Manchester United respectively to see that they aren’t few and far between.
I’d argue that every single team in the Premier League has at least one proven leader in the squad apart from Arsenal, and I think the only reason they’re currently in the top six is because the players they do have possess enough individual quality to overshadow that lack of leadership. Only to an extent, of course.
Now would be a great time for the Arsenal board of directors and Arsene Wenger to make a joint statement of Wenger’s intention to leave in the summer. This would give the Arsenal fans and players a well needed morale boost, and the fans would get the opportunity to really get behind their team and manager for the remaining fixtures as they fight for a Champions League spot.
As it stands, Burnley are just five points behind them for the time being, and if Arsenal continue to lose these must-win games, they might not even qualify for the Europa League.
Sir Alex Ferguson was the master of the late comeback. Over the course of his Manchester United career, he orchestrated numerous dramatic winning goals from the sidelines. Michael Owen against Manchester City, Paul Scholes against Manchester City and Robin Van Persie against…..Manchester City are just a few to choose from.
In recent years, Manchester United seem to have lost the edge they had in that regard, which is why it came as a surprise to many that they were able to come back from two goals down against Crystal Palace to win 3-2 on Monday evening.
It was the substitutions of Juan Mata and Marcus Rashford that changed the game for United, which gives fans new hope for two players who really haven’t performed to their strengths this year so far. Rashford was able to create so much space and Mata pulled Palace out wide often, which was exactly what Jose Mourinho will have told him to do.
It was Nemanja Matic who won it for United with an incredible strike from well outside the box, and he was promptly surrounded by his teammates and the United away support who rushed for the front of the stand to congratulate their idols.
The win puts United back in second place, a position Liverpool occupied for just about two days, setting up a massive game this weekend between United and Liverpool on Saturday morning at Old Trafford.
A win for United would put that five points clear of third place, giving them an excellent stepping stone to securing that spot which would be their highest finish in the Premier League since the Ferguson era.
Elsewhere in the Premier League, Everton take on Brighton, Swansea City travel to Huddersfield and Arsenal welcome Watford to the Emirates Stadium hoping to snap their 4-game losing streak.