I know a few people questioned my mental health two weeks ago when I suggested that mighty Manchester United were “at the end of an era”.
However, in their following games, United were thrashed 4-1 by their closest rivals, Manchester City, and were then outplayed and beaten on their own patch by West Bromwich Albion.
Albion manager Steve Clarke even had the temerity to mark the occasion by wearing a suit. Incidentally, the suit was not quite as bad as the all-black, cheeky little number worn by Liverpool manager Brendan Rogers at the weekend against Sunderland, and I was seriously concerned that after that match, Rogers would be seen abseiling through a mystery lady’s bedroom window at midnight and leaving her a small box of chocolates on the duvet.
So a couple of weeks later, I may well be consigned to a straitjacket under section seven of the 1964 Mental Heath Act, as I now predict that the once mighty Arsenal are now on the verge of potentially becoming the second Invincibles.
When Brian Clough was asked what was his greatest achievement in his illustrious career, many thought his reply would be one of his two back to back European Cup victories or perhaps his top-flight win, a year after being promoted. It was neither.
Cloughie answered: “Going forty two games unbeaten”. When a manager of such stature suggests that a massive unbeaten run is more successful and satisfying than any of the top trophies on offer, one appreciates the magnitude of the achievement realised by the Gunners when they went 49 games unbeaten over an entire season and a small part of two other seasons, nine years ago.
The current Arsenal side is showing similar signs of dominance. They have won their last 10 matches, including beating convincingly the second best team (based on league standings) in Italy with a 2-0 win over Napoli at The Emirates on Tuesday evening.
Furthermore, Arsenal have now won their last 12 away games in a row in all competitions, a run that actually started with a 2-0 win in Germany against reigning European champs Bayern Munich. That run of 12 is a club record, something that even the mighty Invincibles of 2003-2004 did not manage.
Whilst there is now no Thierry Henry, Patrick Viera or a Denis Bergkamp – and few could leave any of those big names out of a Premier League best XI of all time – there is Mesut Ozil, Jack Wilshere and an inspired Aaron Ramsey amongst many more stars.
I believe that there is enough quality in this Arsenal side to emulate arguably the two greatest teams in Premiership history – the aforementioned Invincibles and Manchester United’s treble-winning outfit of 1999.
Having went down in the first game of the season to Aston Villa, Arsenal would have to wait until mid-November next year to break the record, and that is a tall order with home and away fixtures to come against all but one of the top clubs.
So it could well be mid-November this year that is the Gunners’ acid test when they travel to Old Trafford to play reigning champions Manchester United.
In the meantime, it is Man United’s recent conquerors West Brom this weekend, and I see no reason to suggest that the current run is going to end there.
Since the opening of the Emirates stadium, Arsenal have an estimated return on all transfers of an £18 million ($29.1 million) profit. To put that into perspective, Manchester City have a net loss of £640 million, and Chelsea a net loss of £880 million.
Major injuries permitting, with Arsene Wenger’s managerial Midas touch, we just may be witnessing the beginnings of another set of impressive numbers, this time and once again in the form of games won, drawn and not lost.
That would keep me out of the mental asylum for another year at least.
Bob Morton has a first-class degree in Media and is the only person in history to win the Daily Mirror’s ‘You The Manager’ World Cup and Premier League Manager of the Month prizes back to back.