Many Arsenal fans have gone through their lives with a pit in their stomach reserved for their lasting dislike of Manchester United. Tottenham are the rivals, but for years the competition for superiority was contested between those in red.
Thus, when they lose, it’s a moment to savour.
As Mikel Arteta’s side watch on from afar at the Premier League unfolding as they wait for Monday’s meeting with Crystal Palace, opportunities will present themselves.
United being battered away at Leicester, Aston Villa succumbing to a remarkable home capitulation and, dare we say, Brighton, coming up short away at Norwich are such examples. Football has the capacity to turn on a sixpence.
🚨 As things stand Ole Gunnar Solskjaer position as Manchester United manager understood to be 100% secure. Despite poor run of form 48yo still has support of #MUFC board. Signed new contract in running until 2024 with option of further year @TheAthleticUK https://t.co/vgM5p1WMNW
— David Ornstein (@David_Ornstein) October 16, 2021
Manchester United hand Arsenal an inviting opening in the Premier League as they lose to Leicester while Arteta’s side face Crystal Palace
Where Arsenal will finish in the table this season is almost certainly not top four. Tantalising openings may present themselves to the team, those that are both inviting and elusive. A quick glance at our own garden reminds us that Arsenal are not a side to characteristically take advantage of such gifts.
Nonetheless, even if the realistic aim should continue to be a top six place, any chance to make up ground on the sides in and around or above Arsenal both in terms of quality and competition must be grasped.
Crystal Palace and Villa in consecutive home meetings must produce six points. Absolutely must. Arteta will be ramming home the notion of taking it one game at a time and deflecting all wandering gazes back towards internal affairs, but he too will see a gap yearning for a sleeping giant to step into.
This is a huge week. Manchester United fell to a 4-2 loss and their upcoming fixtures pose a delightfully daunting set of gauntlets to run. Their squad has improved with healthy additions most sides could only dream of, yet they’re objectively worse than last season. That falls on their manager, one who has been reassured his position is safe.
And still, the overwhelming likelihood is that United will finish above Arsenal come Premier League matchweek 38. They have exceptional individual talent who have, and will, continue to bail them out in the face of adversity. Arsenal aren’t blessed with those trump cards.
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So when the door is left ajar by them, Villa and the usual suspects, it mustn’t be allowed to close: Palace and Dean Smith’s side over the course of five days are exactly that vacancy. Arsenal need to start making the ground that they more than likely will get caught on. Get a head start for a race where others carry more speed.