Saturday, February 2, 2008

Giving Credit When Credit is Due

I've given Arsenal their share of criticism all year long and been hesitant to jump on the Gunners' bandwagon, especially because of the relatively soft away schedule they've played up to this point. Manchester United are still going to win the title in my opinion and I've said that since last summer, so don't mistake that, but Arsenal are going to make it a fight until the very end and that's something I didn't think they would do back in November and December.

In one of my most recent posts, I talked about Manchester City's dip in form recently and how it looked like they were going to contiune sliding down the table. But you know what? They entered today's game against Arsenal with a 9-3-0 record at home. Undefeated. 30 points out of a possible 36. Arsenal came to the City of Manchester Stadium and bossed the match from beginning to end and in truth, the 3-1 scoreline was actually flattering to City, the loser.

Arsenal did this without their first-choice center back in Kolo Toure, who's away with Ivory Coast in the African Cup of Nations. They did this without their starting goalkeeper in Manuel Almunia. They did this without talismanic, creative midfielder Tomas Rosicky. Manchester City had a near-capacity home crowd supporting them and no injuries limiting them, and still got waxed.

As I said, I still think Manchester United are going to win the title. I've been excused in the past of playing favorites and things like that, but let me assure you, that's not the case. When I recognize a good performance from any team, I'm the first to applaud it and have no problem in doing so because I don't support one specific Premiership team.

This was a great win for Arsenal today and it could very well spur them on down the road. In the end, I'm not sure if they have the firepower to compete with United and the defending champions have the advantage of hosting what could be the title-decider on April 12, when they'll welcome the Gunners to Old Trafford. It won't be as quiet as a funeral parlor then, I can assure you of that.

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