Good morning, TSF. It’s a holiday in the U.S., I hope you’re enjoying a three day weekend and will enjoy the ensuing four day workweek. That second part — the short week — isn’t as talked about but is an underrated piece of the long weekend. Tremendously underrated calendar quirk. Today’s CF will be slightly out of the ordinary. I’m going to actually talk about football.
It’s is a funny little game sometimes. There was so much hand-wringing about Arsenal’s title challenge when the Gunners lost to Manchester City midweek. There were some ready to all but hand the trophy to Pep Guardiola’s side. The rending of garments and gnashing of teeth reached a deafening roar at halftime of the Aston Villa match, when it looked as if Arsenal might drop points for the fourth straight Premier League match. Forty-five minutes of football later and a fortuitous bounce off the back of Emi Martinez’s head, Arsenal are “doing the things that champions do.” Ninety minutes of Manchester City football later, the holders had been pipped for a draw by bottom-half Nottingham Forest in the 84th minute.
Arsenal ended the weekend in close to the same place as they were heading into the Manchester City match midweek - ahead on points with a game in hand. If they match Manchester City’s results from here on in, they win the league.
Another example of football being football. Leicester City were dominating Manchester United. They had all the possession and a bunch of chances. Marcus Rashford put United ahead, but the Foxes were still on the front foot. Harvey Barnes doesn’t score a gilt-edged chance, in part because David De Gea made a tremendous save. A few minutes later, Marcel Sabitzer wasn’t even cautioned for a challenge that easily could have been a straight red. Put it this way, had Granit Xhaka made the challenge, they’re be calls for his permanent expulsion from the league.
Two big letoffs for United, and they wind up cruising to victory. Does the match play out differently if it goes 1-1? What if United are down a man? The narrative this week on them easily could have been that while good, they aren’t ready for the big time. Instead, we’re going to have it crammed down our throats that they are title contenders.
That’s why they play the games, folks. Weird stuff happens. Arsenal aren’t going to win all their remaining games. Neither Manchester City nor Manchester United will either. We won’t make it until May if we lose our heads with every twist and turn. I just hope Arsenal get enough calls, bounces, and luck to see it out.