No Surprise In Monday Night Mediocrity

No Surprise In Monday Night Mediocrity

Arsenal’s 1-1 draw with Manchester United was not a great spectacle – but did anyone really expect it to be a classic? In years gone by, this fixture was one that grabbed the attention of both sets of fans – and the neutrals – as it would perennially provide controversy, excitement and no little skill.

That has now been replaced by mediocrity and tedium, with the clubs struggling to find an identity after long spells under the charge of one manager.

Sir Alex Ferguson may have left United six years ago, but the Red Devils have yet to find a credible replacement, while the jury is out on Unai Emery.

The Spaniard may be the man to bring the good times back to the Emirates, but both clubs are now in the second rung of challengers after Liverpool and Manchester City.

The class and drive from the players was sadly lacking at the Theatre of Dreams and pushing for a top-four spot must be the limit of their ambitions.

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There is also the emergence of other teams, with Leicester City looking more and more like top-four material under Brendan Rodgers.

It remains to be seen if the Foxes can sustain their challenge, but the days when Arsenal and Manchester United would deal ruthlessly with the so-called ‘lesser teams’ are now long gone.

There is no longer an intimidation factor and even the managers were friendly towards each other – something that was never witnessed during the Ferguson – Wenger era.

There is nothing to stop the two clubs from returning to the top of the sport although United’s finances suggest they are more equipped to do so – even if the north Londoners may have a better side at present.

The result leaves Emery’s team in fourth, with United languishing in tenth after their worst start to a top-flight campaign in 30 years.

It seems likely they will keep faith with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as it would make little sense to start the cycle all over again with a new coach.

Arsenal should certainly stick with their manager and, as long as the fans stay on board and recognise they are no longer title-winning material, there is hope, with the possibility of a Europa League run once again to keep them happy.

Monday’s limp draw was symptomatic of two sides that used to frequent the Champions League and a return to Europe’s elite club competition must be the aim – but it is by no means a given.

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