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‘Now Arsenal must focus on Manchester United – and the Double’

PUBLISHED: 11:21 10 March 2011

Nigel Winterburn

Nigel Winterburn

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IN THE end, Barcelona were just a little bit too good for Arsenal, I think we probably have to admit that after that second leg

However, there is no doubt in my mind that the Gunners were very much in the game at 1-1, and that the red card was undeserved and robbed them of the chance of seeing if they could do what they had done in the first leg and come from behind to win.

Whether they would have done so is highly debatable given Barca’s total dominance of the game, but Arsenal were ahead on aggregate and had a chance. Now we will never know what could have happened if it was 11 v 11.

For that the referee has to take the blame, but Arsene Wenger will know that his side were outplayed and not having a shot on target in the 90 minutes tells its own story.

As an attacking force, Arsenal just did not turn up in this game, and if Barcelona are the benchmark for all football teams, then the Gunners are closer to them than they were last year but nowhere near close enough.

Now attention must turn to what they can still win. And a Premier League and FA Cup Double is not to be sniffed at. I seem to remember being quite happy with it in 1998!

It’s Old Trafford on Saturday, and Manchester United v Arsenal can never not be a big game, even though United do have an eye on their Marseille second leg next week.

Sir Alex Ferguson will never pick a side that has no chance of winning a big game like this though. He always wants to win.

Obviously he will have to rotate and that could be to Arsenal’s advantage. United have had a real dip by losing those two games against Chelsea and Liverpool and they need to bounce back to convince themselves that they are still the favourites for the cup and the title.

What Arsenal did last Saturday was miss a great chance to give themselves some breathing space in that title race by not beating Sunderland.

United had left the door open by losing at Chelsea and everyone felt they would slip up against Liverpool, but Arsenal failed to take advantage.

For me, you can only judge at the end of the season but I still feel that if this team don’t win anything this year then huge questions will be asked.

United have been the most consistent so far. They have not got loads of flair, but they are solid and harder to beat than Arsenal. They won’t mind about losing a few games if they end up as champions come May.

Are Chelsea back in the race? I don’t think they can do it, but if Arsenal and United continue to drop points like they did last weekend then of course they have a chance.

It still looks like it is going to be a fascinating battle though, and at least this time Arsenal are right in there and should be involved to the finish.


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