Transfer of RVP only serves to spike Arsenal, Manchester United rivalry
Ever since Patrick Vieira smashed in his side’s winning penalty against Manchester United in the 2005 FA Cup Final, Arsenal transformed from a club reliant on their big stars and changed to a club working their way up via the youth. Years later, Cesc Fàbregas became club captain and a fresh start began. With young stars such as Mathieu Flamini, Samir Nasri, Gael Clichy and Theo Walcott integrating into the team, Arsène Wenger began to search for the right balance between experience and youth.
New signings in Eduardo Da Silva and Bacary Sagna as well as the emergences of Manuel Almunia and Emmanuel Adebayor meant Arsenal started the 2007/08 Premier League season all guns blazing. Top of the league inside a couple of months, the season ended in misery for the Gunners as they missed out winning the title by just four points, having lost the joint-fewest games of the season alongside Chelsea. Eventual winners Manchester United were always catchable; after all, performance-wise, they were in the same league.
Emphasis on the were.
The following season Arsenal finished ten points behind the champions, the next, twelve. And finally, last season the top London club only managed to scrape into third place, finishing a staggering nineteen points adrift from both sides of Manchester. There is no denying Arsenal are not who they used to be. But was that all Wenger’s fault?
Say the likes of Kolo Toure, Clichy, Flamini, Fàbregas, Nasri and Adebayor stayed? Would that be the best team in the Premier League right now? Say Abou Diaby, Thomas Vermaelen and Jack Wilshere never had long-standing injuries? Would this be a title-winning team?
Money has had a massive influence in football but that is not always why big names want to leave the Emirates. Seven years without a single trophy may not be as traumatic as it sounds, but it certainly isn’t the attraction that lures players to the club. Robin Van Persie is the prime example of this notion. His reluctance to sign a new contract with Arsenal is perfectly understandable – he’s 29, in his prime and eight years with the Gunners has only rewarded him with a Community Shield and a F.A Cup medal. In that time Manchester United have won countless amounts of trophies and will continue to as long as Sir Alex Ferguson is in charge. So Van Persie, why not?
Loyalty. Arsenal fans are happy for him, they respect the fact that he’d scored the same amount of goals Thierry Henry used to last year, they are pleased he has that commitment to win trophies. But why Manchester United? A club so rivalled Roy Keane and Patrick Vieira used to despise each other, where managers Arsène Wenger and Alex Ferguson couldn’t stand one another’s successes; two clubs whose fans produced heated debates? Arsenal supporters may forgive him for leaving to win trophies but the loyalty he showed by moving to rivals Manchester United will hurt every single fan.
But does the Dutchman’s departure well and truly end the rivalry? Are Manchester United going to extend the eighteen point lead this upcoming season? It will certainly be a testing ten months for both sets of fans but one thing’s certainly for sure. The rivalry between these major clubs is not finished yet.
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