Manchester United’s first leg draw for the Champions League’s round of 16 match may prove to be costly for them in the return leg against Marseille, as the Red Devils failed to impress throughout the game, and ended with a 0-0 score line, but in case Marseille manage to score at Old Trafford and earn a draw for their part there, then it will be game over for Sir Alex and his players. This first leg had almost nothing to retain for, except a good contribution by Nani but without any real result in the end. United players looked out of focus, and showed some real lack of passion as they scrambled around to try hold the result, but one which does not favor them 100%, as in the past they did go through the exit door after being in the same position.
With many players missing thru injuries, United still had a strong team out there, but apart from Nani, with his runs and trickery, none of the United players really posed a threat to Marseille, and I was left again wondering this time, how Rooney managed to get his 200K/week contract, while his performance is not even worth 200 pounds. Accepted he was positioned on the left wing, but he lost possession too easily and was overshadowed by Marseille defender, Fanni, throughout the match, while Berbatov seemed to have slotted back to his usual self, withdrawn except for some passing here and there. Nani gave Heinze some work with his pace early on in the game, but he too was finally subdued as United pushed back to soak up the pressure. Eventually neither team created clear chances to score, but Marseille will be a threat at Old Trafford for sure, since they know that away goals will count for gold to them in the return leg, while United will have to play better if they want to qualify to the next round.
Back to England and the Premier League, Arsenal saw off Stoke at the Emirates Stadium on a 1-0 scoreline, with Squillaci heading the winner on the 8th minute, a win which brings the Gunners 1 point behind Man Utd, and this weekend they may also break the trophy jinx as they face Birmingham in the Carling Cup final. This should be the Gunners’ first trophy for the season and after long years of wait, given their superior squad and gameplay, and they are still in contention for 3 more, namely the Premier League, the Champions League and the FA Cup. Fantastic Four for the Gunners this season? We’ll have to wait and see, as already United are dawdling about, and with fixtures against Arsenal, Chelsea, and Liverpool to come, I can easily see them drop points and get taken over by the nearest contender for the time being, Arsenal.