For me, Van Persie is an Arsenal man, says Wenger
Confident City a major threat to beleaguered Sunderland
BUOYANT Premier League pace-setters Arsenal will look to deal a potentially crushing blow to Manchester United’s slow- burning title defence when they visit Old Trafford for a seismic showdown tomorrow.
Arsenal’s momentum appeared to be dwindling after they lost consecutive home games to Borussia Dortmund and Chelsea, but they roared back to defeat Liverpool 2-0 in the league last week before becoming the first English team to win away to Dortmund in the Champions League on Wednesday.
Having won eight and drawn one of their nine league games since losing to Aston Villa on the season’s opening day, they travel to Manchester knowing that victory would leave them 11 points clear of the champions after 11 matches of the campaign.
United striker Wayne Rooney poured scorn on Arsenal’s championship credentials this week, saying their recent title challenges had “faded away”, but the London club’s midfielder Aaron Ramsey says his side have nothing to fear from the 20-time champions.
“Absolutely not. They have had a bit of a rough start, but they have overcome that now I think,” said the Welshman, who took his tally for the season to 11 goals with a headed winner against Dortmund.
“They have had a few good results in the league and will be getting their confidence back up, but we are really confident ourselves. Our away record has been really good, so hopefully we can continue building on that.”
United saw a run of four consecutive wins come to an end in a 0-0 draw away to Real Sociedad on Tuesday, but they are seeking to prolong a sequence of eight matches without defeat in all competitions.
David Moyes’s side are also determined to improve on a dis- mal record in matches against their fellow title contenders this season, having taken just one point from previous encounters with Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City.
“I don’t think we’ve shown ourselves this season on a consistent basis, not just in the big games,” admitted centre-back Rio Ferdinand, whose side begin the weekend in eighth place.
“It is time to start putting our foot on the pedal and motor on. We have to do that if we want to remain in contention to win the league.”
Chelsea and Liverpool will both expect to eat away at Arsenal’s five-point lead on Saturday, when Jose Mourinho’s side host West Bromwich and the Merseyside club welcome Fulham to Anfield.
Mourinho has declared that Eden Hazard will return to his squad after the Belgian attacking midfielder was left out for Chelsea’s 3-0 win over Schalke in mid-week after reportedly missing a training session.
Liverpool, meanwhile, can once again call upon England right-back Glen Johnson after he missed the defeat at Arsenal due to an infection in his jaw.
“Johnson will be fit,” said manager Brendan Rodgers. “He’s fine. He’s trained this week. It was just one of those things that happened.”
Fresh from reaching the Champions League knockout phase for the first time after a 5-2 win over CSKA Moscow, Manchester City visit Sunderland tomorrow.
Manuel Pellegrini’s men climbed to fifth on the table after demolishing Norwich 7-0 last weekend, and French midfielder Samir Nasri believes that the 2012 champions are finally clicking into gear.
“In two games we have scored 12 goals, so now we focus on Sunderland,” he said.
“Since the start of the season we have struggled a little bit away, but now we are starting to show the real face of Manchester City.”
Sunderland are five points adrift of safety after losing 1-0 at Hull in their last outing, but new manager Gus Poyet saw his side set up a League Cup quarter-final against Chelsea with a 2-1 win over high-flying Southampton on Wednesday.
Southampton, who had Jay Rodriguez, Adam Lallana and Rickie Lambert called up by England on Thursday, host Hull today, while fourth-placed Tottenham are at home to Newcastle tomorrow. – Sapa-AFP ROBIN van Persie will always be an Dutch coach Rene Meulensteen on Arsenal man to Arsene Wenger. the United staff also influenced Van
The Gunners head to Manchester Persie’s decision. United tomorrow looking to “Robin had been convinced by consolidate their place at the top of the Dutch coach who was at the Premier League and on the back Manchester United, (so) that played a of an impressive 1-0 Champions big part,” Wenger said. “It was more League win away in Dortmund. the fact that I had the conversations I
Former Arsenal captain Van Persie had with Robin that convinced me, it left the Emirates Stadium in August is not the talk with Alex Ferguson that 2012 when he was sold reluctantly by convinced me to sell Robin to Man the club to United for £24million, United. going on to score 26 goals as Sir Alex “It is the head-to-head talks I had Ferguson’s men delivered the title. with Van Persie many, many times
This season it is the Dutch that convinced me that I had to sell international’shim.”former club who are setting the pace, moving five points Wenger refused to be drawn on clear after beating Liverpool last whether Van Persie, who was weekend, with United down in eighth. desperate to win silverware, might
Wenger admits it still does not sit now regret his decision to leave as well to see the player he signed as a Arsenal look set for an overdue 20-year-old in 2004 wearing the red sustained title challenge. of United rather than Arsenal. “Only Robin van Persie can tell
“Of course it’s strange because for you that. I’m not in the position to do me he is an Arsenal man,” said that,” Wenger said. Wenger. “I took him when he was a “I think in the end I had to decide: very, very young player. We have gone ‘Do I do it or not?’ Knowing I will get together through very difficult periods huge criticism for doing it. But I just and he became a world-class player decided because at the end of the day and for me he is an Arsenal player.” I felt it was the best thing to do.” –
Wenger revealed the presence of Daily Mail