by Tony Attwood
Whichever way you look at it, Arsenal are currently outdoing Manchester United. We are unbeaten in the last five Premier League games against them, winning three, drawing two. Is that not worth a mention?
Apparently not, because the Guardian in its report of yesterday’s match still needed to paint a negative. “It means the Gunners have a first Premier League victory at Manchester United since 2006,” they said grudgingly, as it seemed to me. Yes that is true, but why pick that rather than highlighting the much more contemporary point that Manchester United have not beaten Arsenal in the league since the 2017/18 season?
Or lets try another: since 2014 Manchester United and Arsenal have played each other 14 times. 12 of those games have been in the Premier League and two in the FA Cup. Now judging by all the commentaries before the game, and indeed that Guardian piece after the game, you’d be excused from thinking that Arsenal are hammered time after time. So what would you go for: 12 wins for Man U? Or maybe just 10 for Man U? Here is the answer:
- 6 wins for Arsenal
- 4 wins for Manchester United
- 4 Draws.
And if you are a newspaper or blog reader, or a viewer of TV channels that cover football, you would excused for not believing me, because of the incredible negative headlines and commentary from the media. Well, here’s the list…
|9 Mar 2015||Manchester United v Arsenal||W||1-2||FA Cup|
|17 May 2015||Manchester United v Arsenal||D||1-1||Premier League|
|04 Oct 2015||Arsenal v Manchester United||W||3-0||Premier League|
|28 Feb 2016||Manchester United v Arsenal||L||3-2||Premier League|
|19 Nov 2016||Manchester United v Arsenal||D||1-1||Premier League|
|07 May 2017||Arsenal v Manchester United||W||2-0||Premier League|
|02 Dec 2017||Arsenal v Manchester United||L||1-3||Premier League|
|29 Apr 2018||Manchester United v Arsenal||L||2-1||Premier League|
|05 Dec 2018||Manchester United v Arsenal||D||2-2||Premier League|
|25 Jan 2019||Arsenal v Manchester United||L||1-3||FA Cup|
|10 Mar 2019||Arsenal v Manchester United||W||2-0||Premier League|
|30 Sep 2019||Manchester United v Arsenal||D||1-1||Premier League|
|01 Jan 2020||Arsenal v Manchester United||W||2-0||Premier League|
|01 Nov 2020||Manchester United v Arsenal||W||0-1||Premier League|
To my surprise it is the Daily Mail who point out what has been going on…
“Paul Pogba got the wrong side of Hector Bellerin, and Manchester United served up their fifth penalty in seven home league games.
“Prior to that, it had taken them 101 league matches to have the same number given against them at Old Trafford. Bit hard to argue the effects of having no fans in the stadium with numbers like that. Either Manchester United have become exceptionally clumsy since lockdown, or referees didn’t like getting on the wrong side of 75,000 locals any more than we thought they did.”
It is not quite how Untold has been expressing it – we’ve used the academic studies of referee behaviour in the Premier League – but we accept the point. Who’d have thought it? The Mail and Untold in harmony over the behaviour of referees. I wonder why the Guardian still sticks to their solid view that there is nothing wrong with refereeing in the Premier League.
So what was the cause of our improvement? For once it is not Untold on its own putting forward the answer to a conundrum, for others agree. We’ve got Partey and Elneny.
Now just in case you think I’m jumping upon the bandwagon at this point I would respectfully refer you back to my commentaries on Elneny
“Elneny: I thought he was very good in Barcelona, but he’s just getting better each game – and making the fee we paid for him look ludicrous. I really believe this guy is going to be the heart beat of the team for the next few years. And he’s still only 23.” That was 5 April 2016
In November 2017 Martin Keown called Elneny “almost a passenger”. On 20 January 2018 there was one those little twitter outrages that the media love to encourage (so the journalist can just copy twitter gibber and not bother about writing a proper story). HITC reported twits (sorry tweets, although twits is probably right) saying
- Elneny is the worst, don’t think he ever makes a forward pass
- Elneny is garbage!!!
- I could have played Elneny’s role today. Passing sideways and receiving clearances on the half way line ain’t hard when your 4-0 after 20 mins.
Not everyone agreed, as one reader twotted
- Great performance but Elneny was my Man of the Match today. He was bossing that midfield like he owned it
To which the reply came in
- Why aren’t we selling welbeck n elneny
13 April 2018: .Welbeck “latched on to a wonderful Mohamed Elneny pass to finish calmly 15 minutes from time. And indeed Elneny won the man of the match award in some quarters for last night’s display.”
In the build up to this season we were perhaps alone (or at least one of the few) in highlighting the return of Elneny and in our article on 15 September noted that even the Guardian had turned things around and announced…
“Elneny looks ready for top flight.”
Now, months behind the times as ever, Football.London is saying “Arsenal legend Gilberto Silva has praised the Gunners for picking up a big win at Manchester United, and says that the midfield duo of Thomas Partey and Mohamed Elneny “look like a powerful partnership”.
The Boot Room said, “The Egyptian has worked his way back into Arteta’s plans this season, and his showing against the Red Devils was finest this term. He worked brilliantly as a unit with Partey, and the pair came in for praise from Arsenal Invincible Gilberto Silva after the game. The Brazilian former midfield enforcer wrote on Twitter: “3 huge points. Elneny and Partey look like a powerful partnership. Congratulations @Arsenal.”
It was interesting that as the season started and Elneny turned up in the pre-season games I mentioned a few times how he had developed. On 26 August we said, “everyone seemed surprised to find that Mohamed Elneny can and does play well.”
Now I don’t like to crow… oh actually I do. Especially when against massed opposition I ventured the view four years ago.
1-0 to untold.
3 huge points. Elneny and Partey look like a powerful partnership. Congratulations @Arsenal
— Gilberto Silva (@GilbertoSilva)
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- The reason why Liverpool and Man C are ahead of Arsenal.
- How which referee a club gets has a major impact on the result of each game
- The statistical evidence that shows PGMO are biased against Arsenal
- How European football has taken up the fight against clubs breaking FFP