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Victory Through Harmony
IT’S A FUNNY OLD GAME
Here are some games for people to think about:
September 1970 – Stoke 5 Arsenal 0
Stoke thrashed Arsenal at home in this early season clash. Imagine what the responses would have been had we had the internet back then. Arsenal went on to win the League and FA Cup double that year.
January 1994 – Manchester Utd 3 Liverpool 3
For those who say “Manchester United would never concede a big lead”, how about this game as evidence? Manchester United was 3-0 in the lead and still drew. Manchester United went on to complete the League and FA Cup double that year.
October 1996 – Newcastle Utd 5 Manchester Utd 0
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Southampton 6 Manchester Utd 3
What would people say if Arsenal conceded 11 goals in consecutive League matches? This happened to Manchester Utd in 1996. They won the League Championship at the end of the season.
May 2005 – AC Milan 3 Liverpool 3 (Liverpool won on penalties)
An AC Milan side containing Maldini, Nesta, Stam, Cafu, Pirlo, Seedorf, Gattuso, Kaka, Shevchenko and Crespo had a crazy 10 minutes and lost a 3-0 halftime lead. Milan came back two years later and won the Champions League again, beating Liverpool in the Final.
The results above are not meant to downplay the shock of losing a 4-0 lead and drawing at Newcastle. It was a terrible result. Blame the referee, blame Diaby, and blame whomever you want. It was a terrible result.
But it happens.
At the end of the day we drew away at Newcastle and Manchester United lost. We are one point closer to the top of the League. Of course there are mental scars that will have to heal after losing such a lead, but as the above examples should clearly show, things like this happen, often, and teams recover. Sometimes events such as the ones we saw on Saturday can actually act as a catalyst to lift people onto a higher level of play. Maybe that will happen to Arsenal, maybe it won’t.
Right now Bayern Munich are taking a horrible amount of abuse in Germany for their failure to hold onto leads. It happens.
In the final moments of the January transfer window Chelsea spent GBP 75m on Luiz and Torres, and followed that up with one of their most insipid displays of the season on Sunday against Liverpool. It happens.
It was Jimmy Greaves, the old Chelsea and Spurs striker and TV commentator, who became famous for saying that “football is a funny old game”. It was his catchphrase. It is a catchphrase that could be used for any professional sport. It is why we watch professional sports. Professional sports are confounding, frustrating, depressing, and sometimes downright cathartic in the emotions they bring to the surface. I can still remember so clearly the 1991/92 side losing at Wrexham, then the bottom club in entire Football League, in the FA Cup. We were the defending League Champions at the time. Now that was awful. Many others will remember such games as York and Peterborough.
It’s a funny old game.
I am not saying for a moment that Arsenal will end up winning the League Championship this season. That story still has a long way to go and many twists and turns surely in store for us. Manchester United still have to play Chelsea at home AND away, Arsenal away, a suddenly rejuvenated Liverpool away, and City at home next week. This race is far from over.
Arsène Wenger surely has a job to perk up the players after the shock of Saturday. But surely nothing will better serve as incentive than the fact that Manchester United lost and we find ourselves closer to the lead than before the weekend. It was an away draw. There is nothing disastrous about that.
There is no better way for the players to get Saturday out of their heads than by thrashing Wolves at home next weekend. It is always amazing how quickly a bad result is forgotten when the team starts winning again.
Ultimately it was just one game on a crazy weekend of Premier League football. It was just a draw.
It’s a funny old game.
Up next: more on the match fixing scandal