Man Utd take on Arsenal at Old Trafford today with the Gunners attracting plenty of attention at odds of 12/5.
odds suggesting that “Are you making us underdogs? Man United v Arsenal at Old Trafford – underdogs? I wouldn’t say we were underdogs.”
That was Ryan Giggs’s reply to a question about the prospects of a stuttering United facing against a slick Arsenal side this weekend in a game which will tell a lot about the prospects of both managers’s this season.
win for Arsenal and it is back to the uneasy feeling that is only beginning to fade from Old Trafford s and more proof it was needed that this Arsene Wenger side are in it for the long haul this season.
But if United win it will be seen as evidence that Arsenal don’t have enough of the character to manoeuvre through the trickiest stages of the season and another chance for Moyes to show that he was entitled to an uncertain start in the footsteps of Sir Alex Ferguson.
Giggs was quick to acknowledge that Arsenal are the form team in England, and perhaps Europe, at the moment but there was still that familiar spark that no one came to Old Trafford with anything more than an outside hope of victory.
“Over the years we have played against some very good Arsenal teams. You know what you’re going to get: they’re going to keep the ball, they have got plenty of quality and they are in good form. They had a great win in the week against Dortmund so we are going to be up against it. But at Old Trafford we are always confident that no matter who we are playing, we can beat them.”
Wayne Rooney was less gracious when it came to Arsenal’s chances of taking the league from United: “We’ll have to wait and see where Arsenal are in March. We’ve seen before that they’ve been in the top two until February or March and then faded away.”
“They are doing brilliantly at the minute, so it’s down to them to try and stay there and us to catch them. We’re obviously capable of beating Arsenal. We’ve done it many times in the past.”
Without the master there to implement the mind games himself it is perhaps telling of the Moyes era that it was left to two of Ferguson’s players to do play psychology with the Gunners, and it wasn’t lost on Wenger.
When asked about what the difference at United was since Ferguson left the Frenchman replied: “That’s a question you shouldn’t ask me but the referees.”
The manager also spoke of the fear that used to exist in his team before trips to Old Trafford but it was very much in the past tense and with the confidence of Wednesday’s gritty 1-0 win over Borussia Dortmund still shining bright, Wenger laid down a marker for his side.
“We rush less, we do not panic. We believe we can get a result on Sunday. We go there like we go everywhere, to control the game and to win the game. Every season we have done well, winning the league, we have always won at Old Trafford.”