Why This Match Is NOT An “Acid Test”

By on August 28, 2009

Arsene Wenger and crowd

Everywhere I turn I seem to hear pundits talking about the trip to United as some sort of an “acid test” for the Arsenal’s title credentials. The trick, as a supporter, is to not let pundit hyperbole skew your view of the importance of the match. They would have Arsenal supporters throwing themselves off buildings in despair should Arsenal not secure a result at Old Trafford this weekend. This match will tell us nothing more than who was better on the day. But, even more importantly, it is not some kind of measuring stick of Arsenal’s chances to win the title because titles are generally NOT won or lost against the rest of the Big 4.

Only 18 of a possible 114 points are available in matches against other Big 4 clubs and Arsenal have never truly struggled against their nearest table rivals in recent years having lost only one of six matches against the other Big 4 both last year and in 2006/07. Good results in the other Big 4 matches, while useful for the confidence boost they give the side and the supporters, are not necessary to secure the trophy come May. Last season, United won 1, drew 2, and lost 3 against the other Big 4 sides and still won the league. What they did last year is the same thing the Arsenal must do to win the league this season… beat the teams they are supposed to.

Alex SongDue to the lazy nature of football pundits, we continue to hear that Arsenal are quick starters who can’t play in the cold, especially up north, and also wilt at the end of the season. Anyone who watched us last season could hardly say, “Arsenal always get off to a great start.” We also began a 21-match unbeaten run in the league last November, just as the cold was moving in, and it didn’t end until the Spring had long since come. So this Arsenal side that “can’t play in the cold,” was unbeaten in cold weather in the league last year. The line about us not being able to get points in tough away matches like Bolton and Blackburn is just lazy punditry because it may have been true 3 or 4 years ago but no more. Last year, Arsenal won 4-nil at Blackburn, 3-1 at Bolton after going down a goal early, 4-1 at Wigan, 3-1 at Newcastle, and even earned a draw at bogey side, Boro.

What this shows is an increasing maturity on the part of the players. Last season, despite the disappointment at the end result, has shown that these players faced down some of their biggest criticisms and overcame them. They learned how to grind out results in the cold and to go North and not just win but win well. As for the “wilting” criticism, Arsenal did blow the league in 2007/08 despite being 5 points clear late in February following Eduardo’s horrific injury. But last season, they remained unbeaten in the league from 30 November all the way to 10 May. That hardly seems like wilting especially considering that the streak was broken by Chelsea following the hugely disappointing performance in the Champions League Semifinal, from which Arsenal bounced back and earned a draw at Old Trafford the following weekend.

Thomas Vermaelen

This team is far more resilient than most people and even most pundits think they are despite the evidence being right in front of their eyes. You, and Arsene,  may rightly say that a win in a match like this instills confidence and belief in the side. That is true, to an extent, but Arsenal have lost so-called “big” matches early on in the season and come back to win the league before. That is called character and team spirit.

Besides, there is never a need when it comes to Arsenal-United to imbue the match with ridiculous connotations or expectations because we are almost always guaranteed an enthralling match. Just remember, win or lose, Arsenal can win the title without beating United at Old Trafford because the title is won on myriad cold days in December and January away to places like Blackburn and Bolton and Wigan, where we won 4-nil, 3-1 and 4-1 last year, respectively. Supporters, like the players, should never get too carried away over any one result, good or bad. The league will not be lost on Saturday, just like it will not be won either. [digg=http://digg.com/soccer/Why_This_Match_Is_NOT_An_Acid_Test]


  1. kc

    August 29, 2009 at 12:20 am

    Good article. Its entirely too early in the season to pick a league winner no matter what transpires at Old Trafford this go around. I do think we have a good chance at bringing all 3 points home even without Cesc. But his absence will be a blow to our midfield for sure. If we replace Cesc with Diaby we could be in trouble. That’s like replacing sum og kush with schwag. Doesn’t measure up. Can’t wait for the match tho. Should be a great game indeed. Lets Go Gunners!!

  2. ArsenalStation

    August 29, 2009 at 12:29 am

    Exactly, kc. All I’m trying to do is bring a little perspective to the match and the team, in general. Pundits like to say things like “Arsenal CAN’T win the league” and “Arsenal don’t play well in cold weather” and those kinds of statements are absolute rubbish. Even if we lose 3-nil tomorrow, it certainly does not mean Arsenal CAN’T win the title, no matter what the pundits would have you believe.

    As for Diaby, I didn’t even talk about the match but I feel that a midfield of Song, Denilson, and Diaby can handle Carrick, Park, and Anderson especially without Ronaldo to give them extra space by drawing defenders’ attention away from them. Diaby has looked very sharp in his few matches so far this season and I am one of his biggest critics. If he gets the start tomorrow, which I’m sure he will, it will be a test for him.

    We will score goals tomorrow, I believe, and so the biggest test is how will Gallas and Vermaelen, who have not really been challenged up to this point, handle some class strikers like Rooney and Berbatov or even Owen? That is the big question for me going into the match.

  3. kc

    August 29, 2009 at 12:56 am

    I don’t think Diaby is a bad player at all. Just doesn’t come close to replacing Cesc. I would bet that Diaby does get the start tomorow. All our better options are injured less than 5 games into the season. What’s that about? Abou did look great against Pompey, but thought he was less than average against Celtic midweek.

  4. Iqtesab

    August 29, 2009 at 1:25 am

    great post!
    Arsenal will have a hard time at old trafford since fabregas is out. We r very unlikely to control midfield. If samir nasri or rosicky was here i wud hav been more confident. It is wishful thinking to expect a win at old trafford without your main man. Arshavin is the only completely dependable player in our midfield for 2nite. If we were playing any other team, i wud be confident dat we cud win. Bt yes, a loss 2moro is nt the end of the world. I am rooting for a win, bt will settle for a draw

  5. ArsenalStation

    August 29, 2009 at 1:33 am

    lqtesab, let me be clear… I didn’t write this article to soften the blow of an expected loss at Old Trafford. I FULLY believe we will win the match. The larger portion of our 21-match unbeaten run last season was done without Cesc and it shows that we can get results without him. We are nowhere near as dependent on Cesc as United was on Ronaldo (or are now on Rooney) or as Liverpool is on Gerrard. It speaks to the depth of our squad that Cesc can be out for a massively tough fixture like this and I, at least, am in no way despairing of losing because of it. Besides, how much more of a statement would it be for the press to blow up if we go there and beat them without Cesc?

  6. Fling

    August 29, 2009 at 1:56 am

    D title is won at utd. ManUre lost only 10 points off d small 16 last season n if we do dat n dey repeat it, d diffrens wil b dat 1 head 2 head game. 07/08, if arsenal had beaten manUre at old trafford, they’ld av gotn 84 points n weld av gotn 86 points. Thats ow important dis match iz.

    • ArsenalStation

      August 29, 2009 at 8:53 am

      Please do not reply in “text-speak.” It makes no sense to me and doesn’t help convince me you’re making a point intelligent enough to make me spend 5 minutes deciphering it. Thanks.

  7. Fling

    August 30, 2009 at 4:59 am

    Ouch! 07/08, arsenal lost to manu at old trafford. We eventuali rackd up 83 points while they got 87. If we’d won that match, they’d have been 3 points less [84] and we’d hav been 3 points more [86], one more than chelsea and the title would’ve been ours.

    • ArsenalStation

      August 30, 2009 at 8:14 am

      But just the same we could’ve drawn Boro and beat Birmingham, not huge tasks, and the title would have been ours as well. That is my point… If we win the matches we should win, then we can win the title no matter what happens in the Big 4 matches.

  8. Ridwan

    February 7, 2010 at 2:50 pm

    Hello arsene wenger arsenal why are u play like that

  9. Annetta Becenti

    September 16, 2010 at 6:31 am

    I have to say that I love this website. I thought I would drop a comment and say what a great job you’ve done. I wish other people would put so much energy into their site. Keep the posts coming.

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