United aim to make final point at Gunners' expense
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United aim to make final point at Gunners' expense

Manchester United face Arsenal at Old Trafford on Saturday determined to wrap up their third consecutive Premier League title at the first attempt.

sports Updated: May 15, 2009 19:38 IST

Manchester United face Arsenal at Old Trafford on Saturday determined to wrap up their third consecutive Premier League title at the first attempt.

Sir Alex Ferguson's side need a draw in either of their last two fixtures, against either Arsene Wenger's team or Hull City on May 24, to win their 18th English title and the 11th of Ferguson's reign.

A 2-1 victory over Wigan Athletic on Wednesday evening has left United on the brink of the title and the match-winner from the JJB Stadium, midfielder Michael Carrick, is confident his side will generate a party atmosphere in the Theatre of Dreams.

"Obviously it now looks good for us," Carrick said. "I think it's only been done once before (by United), winning the title at home, so it would be great if we can do it again.

"But we're not getting carried away, we've got to respect Arsenal for how good they are. We know we've still got a job to do."

The encounter could be Carlos Tevez's last opportunity to start a home match for United as his transfer wrangling continues to dominate events at Old Trafford.

Tevez is in contention to be picked ahead of Dimitar Berbatov in United's starting XI after a superb substitute showing against Wigan and although his loan deal at United runs out this summer, Carrick would love to see him stay at Old Trafford.

"He's a top player and the goals he's contributed since he's been here have often come at big times for us," he said.

"We obviously don't want to lose players, we've got a great squad and hopefully we can keep it together."

A win against Arsenal would also be even sweeter for United because Saturday's opponents won the Premier League themselves at Old Trafford back in 2002 with a 1-0 victory, a result that Arsenal's fans continually remind United of whenever the two clubs meet.

However, Ferguson is not concerned with anything other than winning the game and has urged his side to prepare properly for the encounter and not be distracted by what is at stake.

"We know how good they are and we need to perform on Saturday and hopefully will do," he said. "We will approach the game the same way as we always approach them."

Arsenal will be all the more determined to earn a victory at Old Trafford following their recent Champions League exit at the hands of United.

Wenger's side will be looking to avoid the ignominy of being the club United beat to win the title after the humiliation of their 4-1 aggregate loss which ended their hopes of reaching the Champions League final.

They are currently fourth in the Premier League and have already secured a place in the Champions League qualifiers next season because Aston Villa in fifth position cannot catch them.

However, this season will be ultimately regarded as a disappointment by Arsenal's fans, regardless of a Champions League semi-final place, and Wenger admits he needs to strengthen his squad this summer.

He said: "It looks like it will be Man United who will win the league but we can still delay it.

"We want to play for our pride and be respected for who we are, that is people who love the game they play.

"We are prepared to spend the necessary money to get the players we want, but the size of the player is not always linked with the size of the money you spend."

United defender Rio Ferdinand is likely to miss the encounter as he is still struggling to shake off a calf injury picked up in training last week.

Arsenal will be boosted by the return of Andrey Arshavin after flu ruled the Russian playmaker out of last Sunday's defeat to Chelsea but first-choice goalkeeper Manuel Almunia misses out again with an ankle injury.

First Published: May 15, 2009 19:35 IST