After ‘that mob from down the road’ walked to the title last season, it sparked yet another un-winnable debate between fans.
‘Who is the best ever Premier League team?’ Was an argument that dominated social media, the same way Paul Pogba dominates a midfield.
City obviously threw their hat into the ring, citing 100 points and their awful ‘centurions’ moniker as proof of their greatness. Arsenal as they always do, reminded anyone who’d listen about ‘The Invincibles.’
United fans laughed with a quiet detachment. It’s laughable any side who’d not even come close to winning the Champions League could be considered the best this land had ever seen. The real debate isn’t best ever Premier League team though, that’s irrelevant. The hot topic that needs debating among fans is one far more important.
United stir the melting pot.
Which fanbase is capable of the biggest meltdowns? At first, following the petitions and ‘charity boxing’ invitations it would seem Liverpool’s crown. Last season’s Champions League final defeat seemed to send half of Merseyside into a breakdown. We can mock Liverpool fans all we want – and have done over their actions since the final. At least in their defence, the loss was one that was hard to take due to the gravity of the game. It was the Champions League and somewhat against the odds they’d made it to the final.
Imploding after that game, where your best player gets injured is one thing. Losing the plot after United tear you apart in the FA Cup fourth round is another. Which set of fans would behave in such a way? Ladies and gentlemen I give you Arsenal football club. It’s not just that Gooners have engaged in the sort of ludicrous online behaviour we’d associate with mental patients. No, the real joke comes from the fact they’ve done it off the back of a game they never remotely looked like winning.
United were in full Ole-inspired pomp on Friday and despatched Arsenal with relative ease. The 3-1 scoreline actually flattered the hosts who barely looked up for the fight. A Patrick Aubameyang goal aside, Arsenal simply didn’t turn up while United were rampant. It was almost 2009-esque the way the Reds ran riot at the Emirates.
Watching Jesse Lingard doing yet another dance at their stadium infuriated the Arsenal fans. Although to be fair they were already foaming at the mouth when Alexis Sanchez opened the scoring.
So what did United’s 3-1 win over Unai Emery’s [ahem] ‘new-look’ Arsenal side tell us?
1. Jesse loves playing against everyone not just Arsenal.
While Warrington’s finest may have made the Emirates his own personal dance studio, this wasn’t his only good performance this season. Lingard has been superb for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side and Friday was no different. It was interesting to see he was the only one of the usual attacking trio who started. Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford have received most of the plaudits but Lingard’s shown he’s more than just an MJ impersonator. Jesse is revelling under the new manager and sending opponents into a fury. Hurrah.
2. Eric Bailly isn’t done yet.
It’s crazy that just two years after he signed, Bailly was being written off. Friday’s solid display showed the defender still has a lot to offer. While he still has to fight for a place in the first team, with games coming thick and fast, Bailly could be key for United’s success. I can’t be the only Red who thinks Bailly and Victor Lindelof could be our best long-term defensive pairing.
3. Lukaku is getting there, slowly.
Okay, it’s unpopular opinion time. Lukaku may have been awarded man of the match by Jermaine Jenas. He may have also been awared MOTM by fans online. He may well have set up two goals, one with a delightful through ball. But, forgive me. Lukaku still looks clumsy on the ball and makes many of us pine for another player to be in possession when he’s got it. I understand that Lukaku was effective and he’s had a difficult time, I’m glad he was given a chance to start and took it. I just feel this was a step rather than a leap in the right direction and more is to come.
There’s no manager better equipped to get the best out of a striker than Ole. He’s worked wonders with all the attackers since he took over. Let’s hope he can do the same with Lukaku, who certainly has the talent to be one of United’s most effective players.
4. Paul Pogba is better than ever.
It’s getting harder each game to find words to describe Pogba and some of the football he’s playing. If Kevin De Bruyne put in the second half performance Pogba did at Arsenal we’d never hear the end of it. The midfielder was superb at the Emirates, especially in the second half where he completely controlled the game. If Pogba continues to perform at the level he is right now, then United’s winning streak could last for quite some time.
5. Alexis Sanchez could be Ole’s ‘secret’ weapon.
A few months ago it looked as though Sanchez could be surplus to requirements and there was talk of him leaving. Now though, under Solskjaer, the Chilean is revelling in his cup cameos and there’s no doubt he’s still part of the manager’s plans. Friday’s goal was another reminder that Sanchez is still a top, top player.