22 April 2013

Man U 3-0 Aston Villa: Sunday's fixture loses a bit of its edge

Well, they've gone into halftime at Old Trafford as I write, and Van Persie has a flawless hat-trick to put his club ahead 3-0. This all but clinches the Prem title for them unless Aston Villa, scorers of only 20 goals in 16 away-games, can somehow tally four in one half while conceding none. A tall order, indeed, tall enough that I'm willing to go out on a limb and predict that this is it for the Prem, not that it's such a bold prediction to make. The other, more exciting(?) news is that this puts Van Persie ahead of Luis Suarez on goals for the season, 24-23, and with Suarez looking at a suspension likely to last several games into the 2013-14 season,  Van Persie will probably win this year's Golden Boot. Good for him. I may resent Van Persie for leaving, but I can't stand the thought of Suarez emerging from a season like the one he's had with any kind of honors attached to his name. Wenger has asked for us to respect Van Persie. I'm not really willing to go quite that far. He left, he got what he wanted, and that's that. Last year was wonderful, but it's in the past. I'm not going to jeer him (he won't hear me from where I am anyway), but I certainly won't applaud him either.

We all knew that Van Persie would win things sooner rather than later, so it makes little sense to feel anything about Man U winning the Prem. It would be like getting upset at, say, gravity or magnetism. There's nothing we can do to stop it from happening, so why feel upset? Van Persie only did what a lot of us would probably do: found a higher salary for his services (even if we might have matched the offer) with an employer that could offer more perks (trophies, visibility, etc.). So it goes.

I guess that this will now force us to consider whether or not to actually give Man U a guard of honor on Sunday. Out of respect for Aston Villa's second-half chances, let's pretend that it's too early to consider the guard of honor in earnest and so on. Moving on, it's a dicey one with Van Persie involved, to say the least. Sure, Man U gave us one in 1991, but I don't recall there having been any touchy issues related to player movement at the time. I guess we should go ahead and do the right thing, the professional one, and give it to them. It's polite, after all, and refusing to do so would look petty and spiteful and immature. The only reason not to offer the guard of honor, in my mind, is if Ferguson asks us not to because he wants to celebrate at Old Trafford instead of as a visiting team. It's not up to me, though, so sorry for having wasted however much of your time you just invested in reading that.

In more significant news, it's worth considering what, if anything, this means for our Sunday match. Will Man U throw on a bunch of call-ups? Whom will we face, and how hard will they try? With little else to play for, except perhaps trying to top Chelsea's record for Prem points (95), Man U is likely to come in somewhat less intense than if Man City had managed to hold off Spurs on Sunday. In a way, then, Spurs' victory may actually work in our favor. Yes, they stormed back to take three points in a stirring victory, and this might give them some momentum going into the coming weeks, but it also takes our most-difficult remaining fixture and changes the dynamics just a bit. I've previously said that Man U was fortunate to have beaten us at Old Trafford, needing a flubbed clearance from Vermaelen to go ahead while playing against the likes of Mannone and Santos in back. Going ahead three minutes changes a game dramaticallyjust ask Bayern.

I actually kind of regret the fact (sorry, Acorns) possibility that Man U will come in with little to play for on Sunday. Despite my earlier declamation against spite, it would have been nice to deny them the title, if only for another few days. As things now stand, we have all the more reason and opportunity to seize this game by the throat and take three points from a game many of us might have written off. Now, we just wait to see if the FA will do right by us and overturn Giroud's red card so he'll be available...

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