Date: 6th November 2008 at 5:51pm
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‘When you look at the quality Arsenal have, I don’t think we can finish off their title hopes on Saturday,’ Ryan Giggs said not long after securing a 1-1 draw at Celtic for United.

Giggs, a very experienced footballer, is merely being respectful but he happens to be perfectly right (though not the way he means it) – looking at Arsenal’s quality, it’s clear we can’t finish off their title hopes because they never had realistic hopes anyway.

I’m of course prepared to eat humble pie if they go on to win the league but that’s highly unlikely. You could see it coming when Flamini, Hleb and Gilberto Silva left the club. Sustaining overachievement is very difficult and Arsenal massively overachieved last season with their title challenge and 83 points.

It is unlikely that 83 points will be enough for the title this season even if Arsenal do manage to accumulate that amount with a squad that is obviously weaker than last season’s (and weaker, considerably, than United’s and Chelsea’s). And of course the Gooners only suffered three defeats last season in the league and two of these were at Old Trafford and Stamford Bridge. Now they already have three defeats and haven’t played any of the top four yet.

So, Arsenal winning the league would be a bigger surprise, for me, than Celtic winning the Champions League. Unfortunately, that does not mean they can’t beat the hell out of us on Saturday. Especially if we’ll be as wasteful in front of goal as… well, as all the time this season really.