Friday, April 7, 2006

The Artist Formerly Known as "Title Decider"

Manchester United-Arsenal.
Sunday. 8 a.m. PST. FSC PPV.

This pretty much sums up your typical Arsenal-ManU match

Since the arrival of Arsene Wenger at Arsenal in 1997, Arsenal & ManUtd have so dominated the English league that their 2 annual meetings were referred to by the press simply as "The Title Decider". United won the league in 1997, 1999, 2000, 2001, & 2003, and Arsenal won it in 1998, 2002, & 2004 (and also finished runner up to ManUtd in each of their winning seasons mentioned above). In the last two years this has changed thanks to formerly shite side Chelsea being purchased by Russian oil baron Roman Abromavich, the weathiest person in the world under the age of 40 (net worth approx. 18 billion). Chelsea have spent over 400 million pounds on new players in the past 3 years- that's damn near $1 billion with a B. Chelsea under Abromavich make the Yankees under Steinbrenner look like the Chattanooga Lookouts. So Chelsea are in a financial league of their own and it is not a huge suprise that they bought, err, won the league last year and look like runaway winners again this year (although their once huge lead is down to 7 pts with 6 games remaining).

Always a possibility when these two sides get together

So it's no longer The Title Decider but it is still a massive rivalry with extremely high levels of bad blood. Most encounters between the two do not end without the following: hard fouls, yellow cards, red cards, fighting on the pitch, fights in the tunnel before and/or after the match, the obligatory cheating/diving of Ruud Van Nistelroy, and even the throwing of pizza and/or soup at each other post-match (allegedly). So it's pretty much Yankees-Red Sox on steroids (except without the mega-overhype by ESPN that turns off neutral fans because they get tired of constantly hearing how great it is). Oh, and two of the best football teams in the world, and a ridiculous collection of talented players on the field at once.

Yes, it's on PPV. But you may get to see this...

Arsenal need to win badly in their attempt to grab 4th place and qualify for the Champions League next year (although if they end up winning it this year then it won't matter, they will automatically qualify), while ManUtd badly need to win to stay only 7 back on Chelsea and keep alive their slim hopes of catching Chelsea if they collapse completely. Both teams are really 'in form' right now, playing their best footy of the year. I am confident that Arsenal can win, but the match is at Old Trafford and something in my gut makes me think it will be a draw, which will actually hurt Arsenal & ManUtd but benefit Chelsea.

ManUtd have had the hoodoo over Arsenal in the last couple of years, but surely are still pissed that they completely & utterly dominated Arsenal in last year's FA Cup Final only to see Arsenal eek out a penalty shootout win after 120 minutes of 0-0 and hoist the famous trophy (Vieira scored the winning penalty with what turned out to be his final kick of the ball for Arsenal).

Not really deserved, which made it even sweeter

Heart: Manchester United 1-2 Arsenal
Head: Manchester United 1-1 Arsenal

***Update Sunday 10 a.m.
I am not smart.

Manchester United 2-0 Arsenal.

The hoodoo continues. ManU outplayed Arsenal and deserved to win.
$19.99 not well spent.

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