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  1. We won the league at Old Trafford Arsenal on the break Ah, Manchester, the fixture I have been at the most. It is like being in Ireland with all the Irish voices I hear and everyone offering an opinion on everything, especially the football. I travelled with my brother, Joe, a diehard Utd fan. We had 2 tickets in the Alex Ferguson Stand so I had to be on my best behaviour. One doesn’t want a United fan sniffing you out and exposing you. As it happened the woman beside me kept watching my phone as all the Arsenal messages from the fanclub keep popping up. I was going to do a live feed but I was nervous she would suss me out so I declined, plus the fact that the light was bad where I was and the pictures weren’t coming out well. But let’s take a step backwards, to what it is like going there for the big game. It has a real football atmosphere, despite all the corporate changes. Strangely there is no big screen (perhaps an indication of the Glazer’s stinginess?). We are flying high on top and they have had, improbably, 3 wins on the bounce, one against Liverpool, but still I could sense the fans nervousness. They don’t want to be beaten by a bunch of Arsenal kids. A good spy is never caught As always, though, the first port of call is the Matchstick Man, across the canal from Old Trafford, this huge pub, packed to the rafters, doesn’t allow enemy spies such as myself. They even check what you are wearing underneath if they are suspicious. Only Utd colours are permitted. As usual, though, I get by unnoticed as I slip in beside my brother, well dressed in his Red Devils t-shirt. However, there is always a superb atmosphere and big queues at the bar as drink gets downed unmercifully. There is fear in the air as the 3 wins were nervous ones, with Utd rarely looking all that good. Liverpool are going through their own difficulties so even that win wasn’t enough to give them confidence against the young gun tyros. Lots of talk of a draw being a good result. Ah, how they have fallen from their glory days when teams would be summarily dismissed, and even ourselves in the Wenger days, sometimes. Getting closer Of course, they know and they remember, that we won the league here. An indignity that shall never be forgotten. We will always be a big game, Roy Keane and Gary Neville on Sky retain their hatred to this day. We were the two giants, banging our heads against each other, with mind games, ferocious tackles, and bulging eyes head to head’s between Wenger and Ferguson. Ah, the great days of the biggest match in football. VAR likes interfering Of course, you know what happened , the first few minutes, Utd were holding the ball, passing it around and a bit of a miss from Eriksen. Then we took over, gaining possession and chances as they defended like mad, unable to hold the ball in midfield. Then we scored, a Martinelli wonder and all looked right with the world from my side. As the VAR sign went up, my brother looked at me and said nonsense, Erikson was dispossessed, nothing in that. I wasn’t so sure. Erikson has always been good at going to ground, like his buddies Son and Kane. Of course, VAR should not have interfered, the referee was in position, he saw it and didn’t give it. There was no clear and obvious error. But the referee bottled it and took the easy way out by blaming VAR. It was the start of a bad day for the Arsenal. Plenty of Antony jerseys about We allowed them to pick our pockets three times, particularly the final 2 goals as we pushed forward for the win. You cannot leave a gap between the lines for Rashford and his ilk to run into. Bravery should never be stupidity. Yes, we had more chances. Yes, some of them could have been goals. And yes, the better football was played by us, but we have to stop giving away easy goals, a rot that started, unfortunately with my hero, Wenger, and has never been properly addressed. This will be our best loss of the season This could turn out to be a great loss, at this time of the season. Why so? Because it was at Old Trafford, a big team with big players, in a intimidating stadium, and a manager who indisputably knows what he is doing. He identified that Arsenal played very high, and a Sam Allardyce long ball through the middle could cause havoc. And it was a strategy that paid off very handsomely. But we played well, we pressed, held the ball much better than they did and two goal hero Rashford, at the end said it was an even game. A draw, at least, would have been a fairer outcome. The players will know that. Mistakes cost us. The teams only played in one half of the pitch So, if we learn from this, cut out this weakness, then we can start again, with the loss out of the way early as all teams lose in the Premiership, except one and get back with a stronger mentality this can be the catalyst to pushing City all the way. Now, I have to say that the Arsenal fans were superb, singing and truly supporting our boys all the way. This is a strength that has been lacking in recent years, and they must keep doing this. We must ensure that we have every little advantage possible. We now have good players in every position and there is a togetherness that Man Utd and Chelsea, for example, will take time to replicate. Liverpool may finally be showing cracks in an aging team and the Spuds are the Spuds. See? I told you But, can I say, at least once in your lifetime, get to Old Trafford for the Arsenal. You won’t regret being swept along in the atmosphere, and make sure to get your pints in the Matchstick Man as an Arsenal spy, listening to the worried fears of the Mancs, and smiling to yourself that our kids have got these boys worried. We will rise again, we will overcome the big teams and VAR and show that team spirit, combined with fan spirit, is the key to Arsenal’s success. And at least my brother Joe was happy. ps. Apologies for the pictures - it was dark, grey clouds had gathered as if a portent for that Prince of Darkness, Mr VAR!
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