After preparing myself for worse, I can’t help but feel a touch disappointed. Going ahead inside of two minutes will do that to man. We dominated most of the first half, and it was good to see Walcott score for the first time since January. As halftime approached, things were looking quite good. Man U, despite fielding a strong XI, didn’t look all that aggressive or interested, and it wasn’t until Sagna’s foul that they could equalize. It really is a bit of a shame, then, to have dropped points. However, I don’t understand the analysis at ESPN under the headline “Will Gunners blow race for Champions League?” I know that writers enjoy an eye-catching headline, but this one stretches a bit too far. Last I checked, I and almost everyone else were penciling this one in as a win for Man U. Yes, we’ve dropped two points at home, but it’s not as if we needed two Keystone Kop goals against a team facing relegation to earn our draw as Spurs did on Sunday. We’re the team that has climbed up as high as 3rd place while those above us have stumbled, so I’d kindly encourage to those who suggested that we’ve just blown it that they take a long walk of a short pier.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again–any team seeking to win the Prem or qualify for the Champions League cannot afford to drop points to teams at the bottom of the table. Dropping points to the leaders, while damaging, is not nearly as big a problem. It’s therefore puzzling to see Spurs hailed for pulling back twice to “earn” a point at Wigan (18th on the table, facing relegation) while we’re mocked for “dropping” a two points against Man U (league champions by fourteen points and winners of 27 games). Sure, it would have been nice to keep all three, but I’ll take the one without too much complaining. We went into this match arguably as underdogs even if Man U did look to be on cruise control for the rest of the season. At the start of the day, we needed nine points from four games, and the odds we’d have to take all nine from the last three were maybe 50-50. Instead, we’ve kept one point and now only need eight from three. With QPR officially relegated, next week’s trip to Loftus Road got that much easier, unless they play more freely without the Damoclean sword of relegation dangling above them. Even then, I like our chances. After that, we’ll host Wigan, who could be a bit tricky as they strive to escape relegation, and then a Newcastle team that may have just gone into free-fall without Krul between the sticks, if Saturday’s 6-0 drubbing by a Suarez-less Liverpool is any indication (if I come across any stories saying that they “won it for Suarez” I may just vomit).
I could care less that it was van Persie who scored. So what? He needed a penalty-kick to do it. There’s no symbolism in it to me, no message to be read into it. Well, maybe there is: maybe it marks the moment that Wayne Rooney officially decided to seek a summer move. Yes, he missed his against us in November, and I’m sure Ferguson saw a chance to tweak Arsène by giving the nod to van Persie, but I gotta think that Rooney sees the writing on the wall, and it’s telling him to try the market.
At any rate, we stay in 4th place, one point behind Chelsea and two ahead of Spurs. I’ll take that.