Manchester United wary of wounded Arsenal

Patrice Evra has warned his Manchester United teammates to be ready for an Arsenal backlash as the Premier League leaders aim to take a giant step towards a record 19th title.

Updated: April 29, 2011 09:17 IST
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London: Patrice Evra has warned his Manchester United teammates to be ready for an Arsenal backlash as the Premier League leaders aim to take a giant step towards a record 19th title.

United can hammer the final nail into the coffin of another trophy-less season for Arsenal when they visit the Emirates on Sunday, where three points will leave them 12 points clear of Arsene Wenger's team with three games left.

Arsenal's hopes of catching United have all but evaporated in a catastrophic sequence of results during the run-in, where they squandered leads against Liverpool and Tottenham before losing at Bolton.

But Evra believes Arsene Wenger's side will be determined to derail United's progress towards the title with a victory that would help salvage some pride at the tail end of a bitterly disappointing campaign.

"You have to fear the wounded animal," the French international said. "It is all or nothing for Arsenal so that is a danger.

"They will want to show they can still win the title."

Arsenal have not beaten United in any competition since November 2008, and have lost their last two games against Sir Alex Ferguson's side in matches at the Emirates.

However Evra has warned that United's good recent record against Arsenal will count for little on Sunday.

"We have a good record at Arsenal but statistics can change so quickly," Evra said.

"Everyone used to say how Arsenal kept losing to Chelsea and then they beat them. We kept losing at Stamford Bridge but won there in the Champions League.

"Our record at the Emirates will hurt them and they will want to do something about it."

Wenger, who admits his team's title challenge is all but extinguished, acknowledged Evra's comments that Arsenal were desperate to make a point.

"We are certainly wounded and now we need to bring out the animal on Sunday. It is important for our pride and our position in the table and for what we did this season," Wenger said.

"It is vital for us. We got a blow on Sunday with the last minute goal at Bolton, so it is vital to show we have some strong mental qualities and finish with a very strong fighting spirit.

"Man United is now in a very strong position, but we have to fight until the last second of the championship.

"It is very unlikely for us now, let's not hide the truth but the pride of our group is to finish in the Champions League. We have to fight even if it is just a minimal chance."

"You never know, if we beat Man United we come back to six points. But it is important to show some fighting spirit, so there is more at stake on Sunday than just mathematics."

The importance of United's game against Arsenal may be magnified depending on the result of Tottenham's London derby with resurgent Chelsea 24 hours earlier.

A win for Chelsea, who travel to Old Trafford to face United next week, will close the gap on the leaders to only three points.

"Sunday is a massive game for us," Evra said. "There is still a lot of pressure on us. If we lose and Chelsea have beaten Tottenham on Saturday, they will only be three points behind and they have to come to Manchester."

"That is what we have to think about now."

Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti has refused to give up hope of pipping United for the title but knows that nothing less than a victory will do against Spurs, who themselves are desperate for three points as they try to overhaul Manchester City in the race for fourth.

"If we are able to win against Tottenham, I think we can put more pressure on Manchester United in the game against Arsenal," he said.

Fixtures (1500 GMT unless stated)


Blackburn v Bolton, Blackpool v Stoke, Chelsea v Tottenham (1730), Sunderland v Fulham, West Brom v Aston Villa, Wigan v Everton.


Arsenal v Man Utd (1405), Birmingham v Wolves (1200), Liverpool v Newcastle (1200), Man City v West Ham (1610).

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