Arsenal and Chelsea needed a fast and tricky winger more than United did this summer, but somehow both missed out on Ashley Young, one of the best in the business. I now suspect the Arsenal fan from Hertfordshire will be the difference for United this season.
Had Chelsea wised up and competed for the relatively cheap £16million fee, I think they'd be champions. Arsenal probably wouldn't have, but 2nd or 3rd would have been an easier target.
As it happened, Arsenal and Chelsea started with 0-0 draws in games they should have won. On better form, Torres or van Persie might have been the match winners, but they're suffering from a lack of service. As I've written on here already, Arsenal were blunt without Fabregas, and Gervinho looks more like Solomon Kalou than Ashley Young.
Meanwhile, Chelsea look mostly to their fullbacks to provide width, but while Cole and Bosingwa might be good at overlapping late on in moves, they're unlikely to twist and turn an opposition fullback like Young did today, before forcing an own-goal.
Overall, United weren't a whole lot better than Arsenal or Chelsea, but that quality wing play from Young got them the three points, and already give them a two point advantage over their rivals.
And this was after losing Ferdinand and Vidic to injury, as well as starting without Evra. Put Arsenal in that situation and you'd be looking at a back four of Sagna Djourou Squillaci and Traore, a defence unlikely to cope at West Brom or indeed anywhere in this league.
We complain about our luck with injuries, but if you sign quality back-up, like Phil Jones and Chris Smalling, and if you have more proven attacking players like Young in front of you, it doesn't matter as much. Wenger should look at today's United game and re-consider spending something in the region of £20million on Ryo Miyaichi, Alex Chamberlain and Joel Campbell.
As well as the obvious risk that, being young and unproven, they might not make it, they're simply not what the club needs right now. It's unfair on these young players to come to a club where they're going to be immediately met with hostility by fans who, with all due respect, were hoping for something else this summer.
We've only had one game, but it's already unfolding predictably.
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