Life in the old dogs yet
Sir Alex Ferguson claims he may ride off into the sunset with Arsene Wenger when the curtain comes down on the Premier League's most enduring managerial rivalry.
It might be stretching reality to breaking point to describe the old stagers as the game's version of Noel and Liam Gallagher - but their turbulence, talent and creative tension may be even more sorely missed than anything Oasis had to offer when the credits finally roll.
Unlike Oasis however, Ferguson and Wenger are not going anywhere yet and on the evidence of the latest eventful instalment in this drama, football should be thankful.
Manchester United took the honours in fortuitous fashion at Old Trafford - and mixed emotions were the order of the day for Wenger as loser and even Ferguson as winner.
Wenger's mood, almost buoyant and certainly good-humoured, in the Old Trafford media theatre was easily explained after an Arsenal performance that suggests his optimism about their title hopes this season is built on increasingly solid foundations.
Arsenal were in untroubled control courtesy of Andrey Arshavin's wonderful goal until Manuel Almunia gifted Wayne Rooney a penalty - described as "Old Trafford-ish" by Wenger but undisputed in reality - and Abou Diaby decided to defy all laws of football logic and dispatch the most clinical of headers beyond his own goalkeeper.
Galling stuff for Wenger and exacerbated when he was pointlessly sent from his technical area by referee Mike Dean on the say-so of the fourth official after he kicked a plastic bottle in frustration when Robin van Persie's injury-time strike was chalked off for offside.
Wenger's reaction was human nature and his needless dismissal only created a chaotic scene that could have been avoided with only 30 seconds to go - especially as he actually had nowhere to go when he was ordered away from the touchline.
He looked as bemused by the conclusion to his evening, arms outstretched amid baying United supporters, as he was by the result of a game that should have gleaned Arsenal at least a point.
Arsenal looked a more cohesive, unified team than last season. Thomas Vermaelen is a sound defensive addition and Arshavin adds fantasy.
The tiny Russian is a wonderful footballer - and a source of much inspiration for Arsenal fans when it comes to less-than-flattering songs dedicated to Emmanuel Adebayor.
Arshavin's slight frame lurks with intent throughout, that rolling and sometimes disinterested gait disguising his lethal talent, and a world-class ability to surprise with strikes delivered with little or no backlift. It was a tribute to his ability that Old Trafford suffered collective anxiety attacks when he was anywhere near the danger zone.
Whether this is enough to sustain a serious title challenge is still open to debate - the fact remains they lost this game and Arsenal still have a habit of losing composure when all seems under control.
The return of Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri will add to the air of goodwill around the Emirates, but Wenger must ensure losing games they should have won does not become a damaging habit.
For all Arsenal's good work, Manchester United achieved a feat that was beyond them in the Premier League last season by overcoming the Gunners. And they showed one of the tried and trusted trademark of champions by beating a top four rival without coming within a country mile of their best.
But even in victory, and in case we forget a very important one, United have just as many questions to answer as Arsenal.
Ferguson's initial team selection was a source of much debate and not something that could be described as an unqualified success, even with three points as the reward.
Wayne Rooney shouldered huge responsibility through the middle as he was flanked on either side by Nani and Antonio Valencia. Michael Owen and Dimitar Berbatov were restricted to the bench.
Berbatov made an erratic appearance as substitute, and it is worth posing this question: what does it say about your £30m striker if you wave off £100m-plus worth of attacking talent in the shape of Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez and he is not an automatic pick for a game against a team regarded as one of your closes title rivals?
There is no mistaking the fact that United have had a major dimension of their game removed with the sale of Cristiano Ronaldo, and this means Rooney is an even more pivotal figure.
Ferguson can relax safe in the knowledge that Rooney is up to the pressure of the task and it was his sheer force of will that kept United above water. He is a reassuring presence for United's manager and their supporters - how they must keep everything crossed that no misfortune befalls him.
Rooney is now Old Trafford's talisman, but the help he receives from others is likely to shape United's hopes of success this season. The season is in its infancy, but the jury remains out.
A word too for goalkeeper Ben Foster. He was at fault for Arsenal's goal, despite the velocity of Arshavin's strike, but he effectively saved the game for United with a priceless block from Robin van Persie just after the interval that prevented his side going two behind.
Ferguson used his programme notes to insist once more that he will not be buying again in this transfer window, light-heartedly suggesting the £80m raked in for Ronaldo "seems to be burning a hole in the pockets of lots of fans."
He added that it was "an insult" to suggest he could lose faith in his current crop of players overnight.
This is a man who knows, who has been over course and distance many times, so it is not a safe occupation to contradict him. The silver-lined career gives him the right to spring selection surprises - but you sense retaining the title for a fourth successive season will be tough work.
Lest this be seen as a wide-ranging questioning of United's credentials, and even their most ardent fans might just accept they may need to take step back to move forward with Ronaldo gone, the simple statistic of victory still marks them out as the team to finish above this season.
The "Pizzagate" days may be a thing of the past and the once icy relationship has thawed - but the competitive edge remains and Old Trafford witnessed compelling evidence of why Ferguson and Wenger will never go quietly while titles are up for grabs.
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