Pride, history and the League at stake | sports | Hindustan Times
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Pride, history and the League at stake

Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson believes a return to Arsenal’s more dogged past has been the key to their fine start to the season.

sports Updated: Dec 13, 2010 01:15 IST

Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson believes a return to Arsenal’s more dogged past has been the key to their fine start to the season.

The Gunners are top of the table as they prepare for Monday’s trip to Old Trafford to face a United side that is a point behind them with a game in hand. Ferguson thinks a rediscovery of the kind of physicality Arsenal were once famous for has been the difference in the Gunners’ campaign this year. Wenger’s team have won admirers with their playing style but have not won any silverware since 2005.

“They were very difficult to beat in the days of Emmanuel Petit and Patrick Vieira and the three at the back — (Martin) Keown, (Tony) Adams and (Steve) Bould. That brought them great success and I think that this team is showing that kind of maturity now.”

“They will still try to play the attractive football Arsene believes in, but there’s definitely been a slight change.

“They’re top of the league - that’s a sure indication that they are better than they were last year and they’ll have a chance.”

Their rivalry has cooled a little in recent years as Chelsea have emerged as United’s main challengers since the arrival of Roman Abramovich but Ferguson thinks the Gunners are now a side that need to be taken seriously.

“A Manchester United-Arsenal game, with the history of both teams, always guarantees a match of intensity and, a lot of the time, controversy. I’m sure that Monday’s game will be more or less the same because the pride and history of the clubs will determine that.”

Ferguson is sure that Rio Ferdinand, Patrice Evra and Paul Scholes will all overcome injuries to feature against the Londoners.

Wenger is in buoyant mood heading into what he terms a “pivotal” Christmas period and he believes the fact they began December at the top of the Premier League sends a strong message of their intent. “It is a pivotal period of the season over Christmas. In every competition we are playing we are in a strong position,” Wenger said. “That means we are becoming strong, mature and we know what we want.

“We were a bit unlucky in some games, especially against United last year when we scored an own goal. But if we are top of the league in December, it means the other teams have not done better than us and we have the quality to beat them.”