EPL 2006: Arsenal 0 – Manchester United 0

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Football
January 4th, 2006 • 10:34 am

The festive period in the EPL was only marginally interesting this year. There were no major surprises, no outstanding games, and nothing much to get excited about.

This particular game was typical, I am afraid. In the end, a draw was probably a fair result. But having players like Henry, Rooney, van Nistelrooy, etc. on a pitch for 90 minutes and yet not seeing a single goal does not make for great entertainment. There were a few missed chances on each side, and a few contentious decisions, but on the whole the final result was not a surprise.

Both teams are “in transition,” as they say, and don’t seem to be able to win important games anymore. (Manchester United’s victory over Chelsea at Old Trafford earlier in the season does not really count.) They can still score tons of goals against lesser opposition, but against each other and against other major opponents, they are mostly firing blanks and don’t seem to be able to raise their game when it really matters.

The way Rooney is being handled by Graham Poll is a bit of a mystery. Does Poll get paid extra for one-on-one tutoring during Manchester United games? Whatever happened to “Shut up!” and “Go away!”? Rooney was quite fortunate to escape a red card for his deliberate handling of the ball, but probably didn’t deliver a performance justifying a red card on the whole. Yet why on earth does he get special treatment from Poll?

It is already a Premiership season to forget for Arsenal fans, and this particular game showed few signs of a recovery that could give some hope for the Gunners in the cup competitions (starting with the FA Cup and the Carling Cup this week and then in the Champions’ League in late February). Clean sheets are a good thing, but they don’t win anything except a decent defensive record and a chance to play the occasional penalty shoot-out lottery.

Will Wenger make key purchases during the transfer window? The early signs are not encouraging. Apart from the silly rumours about Vieira coming back and his own rather undignified comments about his departure, there is nothing to report on.

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