Updated: Monday, 13th July 2020 @ 9:36pm

Tuesday Team Talk: Manchester United's win proves Arsenal will not win Premier League for long, long time

Tuesday Team Talk: Manchester United's win proves Arsenal will not win Premier League for long, long time

By John Paul Shammas

When Arsenal and Manchester United used to lock horns Premier League titles were decided, but Arsene Wenger's stubborn idealism has left the Gunners trailing behind as Sir Alex Ferguson has adapted to the modern era.

As the Arsenal faithful at Old Trafford repeatedly urged Wenger to 'sort it out' in light of yet another defeat to Fergie on Saturday, it is undeniable that the two managers who single-handedly defined a decade of football are now, sadly, competing at different levels.

But the emergence of this separation has not been generated by a deterioration of Wenger's abilities.

He remains a shrewd, fully-capable figure at Arsenal, however Wenger has seemingly embraced the imposed austerity from upstairs as if it goes hand-in-hand with his developmental footballing philosophy.

Undoubtedly, Wenger will be remembered as a genius who changed the face of the English game in its boom years.

However his failure to adapt to the modern era, ushered in by the arrival of Roman Abramovich's bottomless pit of cash at Chelsea, has left Arsenal in a perpetual state of catch-up, unable to challenge for the top honours.

As a result, Wenger's Arsenal are no longer the feisty title challengers that United used to fear. Rather, they have the sensibility of a footballing 'project', willingly sacrificing substance for style.


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Manchester United's victory over Arsenal this weekend epitomises the distance that now stands between these two sides who used to see each other equals.

It was a formality that left United fans not jubilant, but puzzled by how they only won by one goal.

And it seems now, more than ever, that Wenger's stubborn idealism is the reason behind what could soon be a trophyless decade for the Gunners.

The days that United's clashes with Arsenal, characterised by Roy Keane and Patrick Vieira's intensity, used to determine titles, are in reality only a few years ago – but this must feel like decades in the past to the Arsenal faithful who chanted 'we want our Arsenal back' as they were gathered in the corner of Old Trafford this weekend.

Ferguson, in the years gone by however, has since gone strength to strength, proving to be adaptable and pragmatic in a mega-bucks game almost unrecognisable from the league he helped define back in the early 90s.

In spite of the alleged constraints placed on him by Glazernomics, Ferguson, whose bellicose performance towards Real Madrid saw him masterfully play out the £80million Cristiano Ronaldo transfer saga, is unimpeachable at United.

The game has changed, and so has he. The Scot, who decades ago led a trade union walk-out over a pay dispute, is a far cry from the socialist who came from modest beginnings.

He unashamedly praises the Glazer family, who filter money out of the club to service their own debt while upping ticket prices, hitting the fans where it hurts. But undoubtedly, he is getting something in return for his uneasy defence of United’s infamous owners: trophies.

Meanwhile Wenger, fully aware of Robin van Persie's concerns about the direction Arsenal seemed to be taking, let his talisman run his contract down, presumably – foolishly – hoping for a change of mind.

But a change of mind didn't come and consequently, when the Red Devils came knocking with a bid of £24million, Arsenal weren't in a position to say no.

And as the Londoners endure yet another nightmare start in the league under Wenger, the purchases of Santi Carzola, Olivier Giroud and Lukas Podolski are evidently not enough to plug the hole left by the departure of Van Persie, Samir Nasri and Cesc Fabregas.

They’re now left yearning for their central focus of last season – the ruthless match winner that United fans worship.

The veteran Frenchman may have given us ‘The Invincibles’ less than a decade ago, but his unwillingness to foresee and adapt to the significant shifts the game he loves has taken is seeing his legacy deteriorate at every turn.

Now, as critics scoff at the excuse provided for the sale of Van Persie as being for ‘footballing reasons’, he is left looking like a helpless passenger in a sinking ship cursed with misdirection and ulterior motives.

Wenger, the idealist, can no longer compete with Sir Alex, the adaptable pragmatist.

Perhaps it is unwise to try and pigeonhole the characteristics of two men as great and complex as Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger into two, all-encompassing terms.

However the routine nature of United's comfortable 2-1 victory of Arsenal this weekend, alongside the sale of Van Persie, is only further evidence that these are two giants heading in totally different directions.

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