Manchester United vs Arsenal is no rivalry – just two mediocre teams in need of a win

first_imgRoy Keane and Patrick Vieira had many memorable Premier League clashes in midfield (Picture: Getty)Doubtless that the rivalry between Keane and Vieira will be a point of much discussion this evening, and perhaps they might even try to compare a similar battle in the midfield tonight. But is anyone really expecting Granit Xhaka and Scott McTominay to start a scrap in the centre circle or confront each other in the tunnel at half-time?And if they do, will either be able to back it up with a barnstorming performance on the pitch to gain bragging rights and an invaluable three points? It does not seem likely. Perhaps Matteo Guendouzi will briefly start shouting at someone. That is the best we can hope for.AdvertisementBoth sides have spent a decade trying to replace their antagonists in midfield, a decade failing. It is fair to say that the game has moved on and that the type of player they both were does not necessarily exist in the same way, but even the modern equivalent – the N’Golo Kante, whose running and covering is the new version of Keane’s no-nonsense tackling – has eluded them.Paul Ince said this week that he could dominate the game tonight – ‘I’d love to play against this Arsenal midfield, absolutely love it’ – while Dimitar Berbatov accused United of being ‘too soft’ in big games. Neither are wrong. How the mighty are fallen.Both teams can prove something to the other this evening, that they still have stomach for the fight. But will we be talking about this clash for years to come? Somehow, I doubt it. We probably will have forgotten it by Thursday.Who will win at Old Trafford?Arsenal0%Manchester United0%Draw0%Share your resultsShare your resultsTweet your resultsMore: Manchester United FCRio Ferdinand urges Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to drop Manchester United starNew Manchester United signing Facundo Pellistri responds to Edinson Cavani praiseEx-Man Utd coach blasts Ed Woodward for two key transfer errors Advertisement Comment Advertisement No fourth official relished separating Arsene Wenger and Sir Alex Ferguson (Picture: Getty)It did not take long for the two to clash as Wenger questioned changes to the fixture list because it allowed ‘Manchester United to rest and win everything’. Ferguson responded that the newcomer from Japan – Wenger’s previous job had been with Nagoya Grampus Eight – should ‘keep his mouth shut’.United had been winning everything of course and Ferguson was unused to being challenged on anything, inside his own dressing room or outside, all of a sudden had a rival whose new-fangled ideas threatened his Premier League autocracy.Compare that rivalry to the two men who will shake hands on the touchline tonight at Old Trafford, Unai Emery and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.Both are interesting characters but hardly strong ones: Solskajer’s chief management policy appears to be publicly praise every player he possibly can, while contradicting those words with his selection and transfer strategy. Emery meanwhile relies on Freddie Ljunberg to make himself understood to the players and has five different captains, the leader of whom is perhaps his least reliable player in his squad.AdvertisementAdvertisementMore: Manchester United FCRio Ferdinand urges Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to drop Manchester United starNew Manchester United signing Facundo Pellistri responds to Edinson Cavani praiseEx-Man Utd coach blasts Ed Woodward for two key transfer errorsAnd that is part of the problem. Everything that gets flashed up during Sky’s two-hour pre-game – featuring Roy Keane in person – will be increasingly grainy footage of Keane himself getting angry in the tunnel, Patrick Vieira squaring up to anyone who will dare to stand his ground and Martin Keown celebrating in Ruud van Nistelrooy’s face. It will be an hour of men in their 40s reminiscing about times gone by, when football was football and men were really men.It is not an edifying prospect. In all likelihood, they will not spend that long talking about the game at hand – and who can blame them? Both teams sit in mid-table with three defeats and four draws between them already in the Premier League this season. Once upon a time, these two sides would have been aiming to end the season with figures like that next to their name.But instead, the modernity of Manchester City, Liverpool, Tottenham and even Chelsea has seen them left behind.center_img James GrayMonday 30 Sep 2019 11:21 amShare this article via facebookShare this article via twitterShare this article via messengerShare this with Share this article via emailShare this article via flipboardCopy link229Shares Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Unai Emery have little rivalry to speak of (Picture: Getty)Manchester United vs Arsenal used to be the one we all put into our diaries.When the fixtures came out, even if you weren’t a Red Devil or a Gunner, you would do anything you could to make sure that your partner had something else do, the kids had a play-date at someone else’s house and no-one was getting married – if they were, they’d better have Sky at the reception.The TV networks would create montages of montages, set to epic music with as many pop culture references as they could jam into 90 seconds, and the build-up to ‘Super Sunday’ or ‘Manic Monday’ or occasionally ‘Wild Wednesday’ would usually dominate proceedings for at least a week.AdvertisementAdvertisementThat, at least, has not changed. In an increasingly crowded sports entertainment market, TV companies will cling onto any semblance of rivalry or ‘beef’ in an effort to stand out from the crowd and draw more eyes.ADVERTISEMENTMore: FootballRio Ferdinand urges Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to drop Manchester United starChelsea defender Fikayo Tomori reveals why he made U-turn over transfer deadline day moveMikel Arteta rates Thomas Partey’s chances of making his Arsenal debut vs Man CityThey always have, and we would tolerate it for United vs Arsenal because it was a massive game. Now, the hype surrounding the fixture is no more deserved than when Sky schedule Bournemouth vs Norwich for 4pm on a Sunday and insist that you need to stop whatever you are doing to watch it.The seeds of this rivalry were sewn in the enmity between Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger.Ferguson had arrived at United with the express purpose of taking on the all-conquering Liverpool and ‘knocking them off their perch’. By the time Wenger strode into English football, the perch had been burned to the ground and United were dancing all over the ashes.The Frenchman brought with him a whole host of new ideas and new players, and frankly could not have been much more polar opposite to Ferguson, with his economics degree, his linguistic skills and his ideological football. It was old school vs new school, homegrown vs imported, fire and brimstone vs cunning and guile. Manchester United vs Arsenal is no rivalry – just two mediocre teams in need of a winlast_img

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