United’s European Hangover
Yesterday’s result at The Emirates has left a bad taste in my mouth. Not because of the manner of the defeat, in which United were outplayed for vast amounts of the game. Not because what was seemingly becoming a stroll to the historic 19th title, has suddenly become a straight-out fight between ourselves and Chelsea. Not even because it give the celebrity Gooners on Twitter something to bang on about despite their teams dire end to the season. It left a bad taste in my mouth because it was yet another stale, washed-out display away from Old Trafford after a European away game.
Away from home this season has been a very strange experience for United fans as the team has failed to perform to our usual high standards week in, week out. Our record so far this season is an unimpressive won 5, drawn 9 and lost 4. Blackpool, who currently lie in 17th have won the same amount of games away from home this season. Compare this to last season were we won 11 away from home and in the 2008/09 season we won 12 on the way to our 18th title. But there is one thing that is consistent over the these seasons and that is that United struggle to play away from home after an away tie in the Champions League.
Travelling to an away game on the continent midweek, followed by an away game in the league is never going to be an easy task. So you may think that I am being unjust and unfair against United, but sadly this is not the case. In the past five seasons, United has a worse record in matches of this type than both Chelsea and Arsenal. Since the 2006/07 season, United have played 15 away games after a Euro away, winning 7, losing 6 and drawing 2. That’s a win percentage of 47% and an average of 1.5 pts per game. If you compare this to Chelsea (50% win and 1.8 pts per game) and Arsenal (56% and 1.9 pts per game), you can see that we tend to struggle a bit more than our rivals in these games.
Despite this, in the five seasons I looked back at, United have of course won three league titles and got to two Champions League finals, winning one of them. So these results clearly haven’t effected us when all is said and done as we have clearly picked up points in other areas in which our rivals haven’t. And the one thing that has saved us this season is our amazing home form. Played 17, won 16, drawn 1. Old Trafford is once again becoming a fortress, so with two of our remaining three games in the League being at home it still bodes well for us.
So whilst yesterday’s result still stings, still represents a chance lost to wrap this league up, it’s not all doom and gloom. This type of result isn’t something out of the ordinary. It doesn’t represent United bottling it when it really matters and it doesn’t represent some kind of tactical deficiency by Fergie. It is simply a case of a Euro hangover, coupled with playing an Arsenal team who really have no pressure on them at all now they are out of the running for the league. United will regroup, and we will give Chelsea a hell of a game at Old Trafford next Sunday. This title is most certainly still in our hands and Fergie will have the lads ready.