Sunday, February 17, 2008

Who wants it more?

It certainly seems like this weekend's matches will be bandied about as a turning point, as the papers have already done, but we witness the return of the Champions League in the next few days and it's hard to argue against how significant every game is from here on out.

The Champions League match-ups leave us salivating, perhaps too much given the opportunity for some dull games in European play, but the nature of the knock-out stages will provide us all with an opportunity to affix meaning to each and every game from here out. Personally, this gives me a chance to get excited by continental teams again.

And this is certainly true for the remainder of the EPL season. It's a telling time now, for Arsenal and Manchester United, despite the cushion the Gunners have upon the Red Devils. It's easy to point at Saturday's mauling of Arsenal at the hands of Man U and declare this a turning point in the season, just as it will be for Wenger's side if they can rebound with a good result against Milan this week.

Seven away and five home matches for each side should test their respective depth and mettle. Chelsea's breaking up of the duopoly of Arsenal and Man Utd at the top was refreshing a few years ago, despite how you feel about Roman Abramovich's injection of cash, giving neutrals a hope of cracking the top two spots.

Now, for Arsenal, it's an opportunity to return, perhaps this time as a young, swashbuckling, overachieving side. But if the catastrophe of Saturday's game against United expose some cracks in the Gunners' depth, grabbing their first and most vital piece of silver may prove to be a telling grind, something that Manchester United is more than capable of.

Arsenal's remaining matches:

2/23 -Birmingham (A)
3/1 - Aston Villa (H)
3/9 - Wigan (A)
3/15 - Middlesbrough (H)
3/23 - Chelsea (A)
3/29 - Bolton (A)
4/5 - Liverpool (H)
4/12 - Manchester Utd (A)
4/19 - Reading (H)
4/26 - Derby (A)
5/3 - Everton (H)
5/11 - Sunderland (A)

Manchester United's remaining matches:

2/23 - Newcastle (A)
3/1 - Fulham (A)
3/9 - Bolton (H)
3/15 - Derby (A)
3/23 - Liverpool (H)
3/30 - Aston Villa (H)
4/5 - Middlesbrough (A)
4/12 - Arsenal (H)
4/19 - Blackburn (A)
4/26 - Chelsea (A)
5/3 - West Ham (H)
5/11 - Wigan (A)


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