There was widespread disdain from Arsenal supporters when Arsene Wenger substituted the dangerous Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in the game against Manchester United on Sunday. Some will be calling for his head.
Thankfully, sense will probably prevail and the majority will still agree that the Frenchman has largely cemented the legacy of Arsenal football club. But the fact remains that, as a team, Arsenal have been in stasis for the last five years. They seem still to be paying off the cost of their fantastic stadium. Do the top teams really fear going there any more? I don’t think so.
They made a comparatively ordinary Manchester United side look like world beaters for large chunks of the game on Sunday.
Perhaps the biggest difference between Manchester United and Arsenal is in the quality of their respective talismen. Noone can refute the fact that Robin Van Persie is a great finisher. But in Wayne Rooney, Manchester United have a great player. Of course, Van Persie scored an excellent equaliser for Arsenal but, in the first half, you would be forgiven for questioning whether he was even on the pitch.
By contrast Wayne Rooney is a constant presence for Manchester United. If you take your eyes off the ball for five minutes in a Manchester United game and instead follow Rooney you will see that he is central to everything that they do in defence and attack. He solidifies the back line, creates from midfield and adds teeth to the offense. The perfect link man. What a player. He very nearly outshone the impossible Ryan Giggs today.
Van Persie is a great finisher, but Rooney is a great player. That is why Manchester Untied beat Arsenal on their own patch on Sunday.