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Ferguson gunning for Arsenal after Cup win

Ferguson will also make changes for United's visit to Lyon with Ronaldo expected to recover.
By HT Correspondent | None
UPDATED ON FEB 17, 2008 05:21 PM IST

Sir Alex Ferguson believes Manchester United's emphatic 4-0 FA Cup victory over Arsenal could have a major impact on the Premier League title race.

United's win took Ferguson's side into the quarter-finals of the competition and the manager is convinced the fall-out from the clash will be felt when the Gunners return to Old Trafford for the league meeting on April 12.

Two goals from Darren Fletcher and efforts from Wayne Rooney and Nani completed a one-sided win that came just five days after Arsenal extended their lead at the top of the table over reigning champions United to five points.

"It was a really fantastic performance," said Ferguson. "We played with great verve and tenacity. The passing was terrific and I think everybody should be pleased with themselves.

"I hope it has an impact on the title race, I really do. It shows that when Arsenal come here in April they are going to have a game.

"April is two months away and you don't know what position the two clubs will be in but it's certainly whetted our appetite for the future games.

"There are not many teams who will beat Arsenal 4-0 so we have to take that perspective also," the Scot added.

Both Ferguson and Arsene Wenger opted not to risk key players before this week's Champions League fixtures.

And Arsenal manager Wenger, having prioritised Wednesday's clash at home to AC Milan, dismissed suggestions this heavy defeat would affect anything other than his side's foiled ambitions in the FA Cup.

"I think people will see us in a different shape when we come back in the League in April," the Frenchman insisted.

"The targets in front of us are very clear: It is the Championship and the Champions League, but we are not in a position where we have to make a choice because it keeps our fixtures balanced.

"We need to pick ourselves up quickly because we have a massive game against AC Milan.

"It was difficult to have a go at the players because we had no physical resources to come back into the game and we need to recover quickly because we will need to be at our beat to beat Milan.

"Nobody on the bench was fully fit. I am not sure if Gael Clichy will play against Milan but Emmanuel Adebayor and Mathieu Flamini should be okay.

"I am very confident we can pick ourselves up. When we lose in the Cup it's unbelievable, we seem to get a hiding. We don't concede many goals but when we do, we do it well."

Ferguson will also make changes for United's visit to Lyon on Wednesday with Cristiano Ronaldo expected to recover a stomach upset and Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes set to be recalled after being rested.

Arsenal were 3-0 down before half-time on Saturday and there was further misery for the Gunners four minutes after the break when Emmanuel Eboue was sent-off for a high challenge on Patrice Evra.

Wenger, who rarely admits in public his players have done anything wrong, condemned United winger Nani for a spot of 'showboating' towards the finish when, with the game over as a contest, the Portuguese kept possession with a spot of solo 'head-tennis'

"My players were incensed by Nani late in the game and rightly so," he said. "Nani was very good today but what he did was not needed.

"It was a little bit disrespectful but he is a young player and he wanted to show his talents. I hope he learns from that and will not do it again."

Ferguson agreed his player had gone too far - but insisted William Gallas was fortunate to stay on the pitch after kicking out at Nani in frustration.

"I thought Gallas should have been sent-off. He kicked Nani from behind when the ball was 20 yards away.

"The referee called them both over but that was because they sized up to each and I think Nani was quite rightly disappointed. I think it should have been a red card and they need to have a look at that again.

"But Nani shouldn't be doing that (showboating). In some ways it shows a great deal of courage, but there's no need to do that and I don't want him to do that."

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