August 31st, 2004 • 1:32 am
This was a game in hand for Manchester United, who were playing a Champions’ League qualifier when other EPL teams were playing their Day 3 games.
Both Everton and Manchester had played on Saturday, so presumably there were just as many tired legs on one side as there were on the other. Watching the game’s first half, however, you had to wonder where the irresistible strength of that Manchester United team had gone. They were very ordinary, and Everton didn’t have much trouble containing their opponents. They were actually surprisingly enterprising.
The second half was better for United, and they did hit the woodwork a couple of times — but on the whole it would have been harsh to say that Everton didn’t deserve a point. They deserved it more than Blackburn did last Saturday — and they could even have had the three points if the referee had spotted that blatant hand ball by United defender Silvestre in the second half.
Silvestre was dreadful for France during Euro 2004, and it looks like he’s becoming just as bad in the EPL! He made several mistakes, and United were lucky not to be punished for any of them.
Still, if you read the match report over at The Guardian, you’ll see that they have already written United’s obituary for this year’s Premiership contest. That might be a bit premature. Obviously, the arrival of Wayne Rooney will not fix all of their problems, but it’s still far too early to dismiss their chances. We might have to wait and see how well they do against Arsenal in October.
Even as an Arsenal fan, I cannot help but notice that The Guardian‘s coverage is becoming rather unbalanced, in the Gunners’ favour. It’s true that they are irresistible at times, and they seem to have lots of attacking options these days. And they have a perfect record this season, even with Vieira and Campbell still missing.
But, as the Norwich game last Saturday demonstrated, the Gunners are not immune from complacency, and they are still lacking somewhat in the back. I am sure that Wenger is fully aware of this and still working on improving an already excellent collective. But there’s no guarantee that Arsenal will not be punished for these remaining flaws at some point this season. They still have all the major challenges ahead of them: the games against the big rivals, the Champions’ League, the FA Cup… and the transfer window is closing today.
I guess you can put me in the “always anxious fan” category :-).