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United 2 Arsenal 1

There are moments in every season that are seen in hindsight as turning points. Earlier this season I was convinced we would be made to pay for losing at West Ham, especially as Arsenal then went on turn a loss into a win at Everton only hours later. However, in hindsight now, that weekend was not especially imporant at all. United came back from that loss whilst Arsenal went on to capitulate in many other games. Instead the turning point of the season will be Arsenal fielding a weak team in the cup at Old Trafford, getting thumped, then going to Birmingham a week later and throwing the game away there too as Gallas sat on the sidelines sulking. They never recovered and a fairly average Chelsea side carried on grinding results out and kept the pressure on in their place.

A possible turning point of the league could have been this weekend. United were on the back of a draw away at Boro whilst Arsenal had nothing to lose and would go all guns blazing at Old Trafford. Chelsea, meanwhile, only had to face Wigan at home. An Arsenal win and a Chelsea win would literally see 3 teams in the title race almost neck and neck, with United still having to go to Chelsea. And at one point, with Arsenal leading and playing very well, the atmosphere at Old Trafford was certainly nervy. Memories flooded back of late season wins by Arsenal at our stadium, namely 1998 and 2002. Would the team be able to turn it around?

Fortunately the 11 players in Red shirts had more bottle and faith than me. Ferguson brought on Anderson and Tevez to replace the ineffective Park and Scholes, and the game turned. Suddenly there was energy and passion from United. Our players charged theirs down and denied them space on the ball. You all know what happened next- 2 Ronaldo penalties and a Hargreaves freekick later and the game was won. Arsenal fell apart in a big game again, Fabregas threw Rooney’s shirt on the floor after the final whistle, Wenger moaned to the TV cameras and United sat further ahead at the top. 24 hours later Chelsea looked to have sealed their easy home game against Wigan when that scouse bastard Heskey popped up to essentially hand us the title. Thanks Stevie Bruce- once a Red always a Red eh?

So now United sit 5 points clear at the top, full of confidence and off to Blackburn to effectively kill the title race. Chelsea face Everton away before that and so, if they slip up, United could be champions with a draw at Stamford Bridge. We all would have taken that before the season started! We won’t be celebrating until it is won but it is safe to say all bets are already off. These two wonderful results in one weekend can only help to raise confidence and also move the focus to Europe and that small game against that little Catalunyan side…!

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