For me, Van Per­sie is an Arse­nal man, says Wenger

Con­fi­dent City a ma­jor threat to be­lea­guered Sun­der­land

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - SPORT -

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

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