Relations between Manchester United and Arsenal have thawed, with the two clubs’ long-standing managers forging a deep-seated (but rarely aired) admiration for one another over the years which, in turn, has undoubtedly thawed the abject mutual loathing that the pair once shared.
Many claim that the flagrant hostilities between Sir Alex Ferguson and his long-standing Gallic adversary Arsene Wenger have been tempered by the fact that Chelsea seem to have replaced Arsenal as the former’s principle bête noir, with the Gunners having chosen to sacrifice out-and-out trophy-chasing in favour of undergoing a complete youth-orientated rebuild a few (say…five) years ago.
That said, after enjoying a fairly consistent start to their domestic campaign, Wenger’s side will travel to Old Trafford on Monday night with a one-point advantage over United at the business end of the Premier League table (thanks largely to Blackpool’s lack of undersoil heating), a slim lead in the standings that you’d think may mark Arsenal out as potential title candidates this time round – well not if United left-back Patrice Evra has anything to do with it.
Speaking in an interview with Canal Plus, Evra mocked Arsenal’s Premier League pretensions – intimating that, until they stop prioritising ‘beautiful football’ over getting black-and-white results, they will forever deem them to be mere also-rans:
“Arsenal is a training centre. I watch them play and enjoy it but will they win the title? That’s what people will remember.
Arsenal are a great club but it has been five years since they won anything and that for me is a crisis.”
Evra (who, to be fair, does have a fairly valid point) continued, claiming that even if United lose on Monday – the three points surrendered will not be critically damaging to their title aspirations:
“We could lose to them on [Monday] but then what? There is nothing for them, there will be no trophy, nothing.”
The Frenchman also added that, while he enjoys bearing witness to Arsenal’s fluid style, he doesn’t think they possess the necessary grit to match United’s steely resolve:
“When you play against Arsenal it is a lot of fun. They are a team that play football. They won’t come to Old Trafford and put 11 men behind the ball.
The difference is we play football but also have power. Sometimes they don’t kill matches off while we are more efficient.”
Upon catching wind of Evra’s nefarious slander, Arsenal midfielder Samir Nasri was quick to rally in Arsenal’s defence – also telling Canal Plus (you’ve got to wonder if the two players were side by side at the time):
“We are not children and we will demonstrate that on Monday. We will show Manchester United that Arsenal have really grown.”
Spoken like a true kitten.
Incidentally, Evra’s claims come less than 24 hours after United teammate Luis Nani went public with his observations that Arsenal are now a ‘bigger threat’ to his side’s run-in than Chelsea – so, as always, make of that what you will.