One-nil to the Arsenal

It was an ugly game, and one that Manchester United deserved to win. I don’t know what Arsene Wenger was thinking, going with a 4-5-1 approach with Bergkamp in front, but regardless, it didn’t work. Reyes was simply awful throughout the game, losing the ball badly every time he had it, and only a combination of uncharacteristically decent goaltending from Lehman and very good luck kept Rooney and Van Nistleroy from putting the ball in the back of the net.

United had chance after chance and just couldn’t finish. Ljungberg’s save – standing at the goal line and heading a Van Nistleroy header into the bar and out – was unbelievable, and if the goal had been six inches wider and one inch taller, Arsenal would have lost 3-0.

But they survived to take it to penalties and put the game away with four clinical finishes and one cheeky Ljungberg lob directly at the goalie, who basically cut his own throat by committing early to one side. It’s not how I would have liked to see them win, and I still think that taking off a player every five minutes would be preferable to penalties, but it’s nice to see the Gunners take home some silverware this season.

The FA Cup has lost a lot of its allure, as have most of the national cup competitions. If I were a UEFA official, I’d give first entry in the Champions League to the national league winner and second entry to the national cup winner. Putting that much TV money on the line would restore its prestige in an instant.

UPDATE: More good news. “We will be announcing today or tomorrow that Dennis Bergkamp will be signing a new one-year contract.” – Arsenal vice-chairman David Dein