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‘Arsenal slipped up, but now it’s Manchester United under pressure’

PUBLISHED: 13:06 10 February 2011

Nigel Winterburn

Nigel Winterburn

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Read Nigel Winterburn’s exclusive Arsenal column here every week

EVERY now and then you see one of the top teams fall apart and concede goal after goal and sadly that was what happened to Arsenal at St James’ Park – they just capitulated in the second half.

There were a number of factors but the red card for Abou Diaby was certainly the turning point, it got the Geordie fans interested again and just turned up the tempo of the game.

Arsene Wenger felt Joey Barton’s tackle was worthy of a red card, but I have to say I don’t agree with him, I didn’t even think it was a foul. It was a hard tackle, but fair one and Diaby’s reaction was probably down to the fact that he has been injured twice by tackles like that before. Tough – that’s the game you are playing in.

I also felt the first penalty, against Laurent Koscielny, was justified but the second one, well, it was never a penalty in a million years.

But Newcastle had the bit between their teeth by then and Arsenal were gone. They could even have lost it.

Which would have been a shame as it turned out, because once Manchester United were beaten Arsenal’s point was not looking so bad after all. It sounds like a cliche, but it is a point gained, Arsenal are a point closer to United than they were last week, whatever happened at Newcastle.

It was a huge defeat and a huge shock for United at Wolves.

They have been playing badly but not getting beaten away from home all season, and it finally caught up with them at Molineux, so now their unbeaten record is at an end.

That certainly makes it interesting at the top, and of course Arsenal still have a great chance of wining the title. They will hope United drop points again on Saturday, but will just focus on beating Wolves themselves – and then think about Barcelona.

It is going to be another engrossing tie against Barca, they are the best team in the world in my opinion and have been irresistible this season.

Can Arsenal beat them? Of course they can, but they are going to have to play very, very well over the two legs, and have to score the first goal on Wednesday to instil belief.

Of course there is going to be a lot of focus on Cesc Fabregas over the next few weeks after he so nearly went back to Barca in the summer.

Even though many people feel that the deal will still happen this summer, I am not so sure. And if it does the fee will be something like the £50m Chelsea paid for Fernando Torres.

Fabregas has shown he is one of the best midfielders in the world, and is still only 23. Barca want him badly and will have to pay for the privilege.

But for now he is still Arsenal’s player and will be vital again over the next few months. With him, Arsenal can beat anyone. Even Barcelona...


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