Sunday, 28 April 2013

Arsenal jeers won’t annoy Van Persie – Ferguson

Manchester United
manager Alex Ferguson says he has no
concerns about the prospect of Robin van
Persie facing abuse from fans of his
former club Arsenal when the teams clash
at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday.
Van Persie left Arsenal in an acrimonious
£24 million ($37 million, 28 million euros)
transfer last year and has been a
revelation in his first season at Old
His hat-trick at home to Aston Villa on
Monday took his tally for the campaign to
24 league goals and secured the title for
United, which Arsenal have pledged to
acknowledge by forming a guard of
honour for the visiting team.
The sight of Van Persie being applauded
on to the pitch as a league champion by
his former team-mates is liable to provoke
strong feelings among the Arsenal support,
but Ferguson believes the Dutchman will
not be fazed.
“I don’t bother about it, and I don’t think
Robin should bother about it either,” said
the United manager.
“There was a bit of booing when he
played (against Arsenal) at Old Trafford,
and I expect a portion of fans will do that.
That is the modern generation, I am
“For Arsenal to have one of their players
go to their biggest rivals of the last 20
years doesn’t sit well with their fans, nor
Arsene (Wenger, the Arsenal manager) for
that matter.
“But it does happen. You just have to
move on. Arsenal have moved on now.
They are challenging for a Champions
League place and have every chance of
getting one.”
Ferguson has urged United to go on and
break the Premier League points record of
96 by winning their four remaining games,
but Sunday’s showdown will be of far
greater significance to the fight for
Champions League qualification.
Arsenal, in third, fourth-place Chelsea,
and fifth-place Tottenham Hotspur are
currently separated by just two points, but
Wenger’s side are at a disadvantage as
they have played a game more than both
of their rivals.
However, their form is excellent, with six
wins in their last seven matches, and
Wenger believes his side’s performances
prove that Van Persie has not been unduly
“What you want to focus on is that when
the big players go, you just want to get
around it and try to find a new
organisation that is efficient,” he said
“You always miss a big player. The only
thing I can say is it took us a while to get
around it, but if you look at the number
of goals we’ve scored, it’s similar to last
season (1.91 goals per game compared to
“It took us a while to find a different way
because the game went through him (Van
Persie) a lot. We had to find a new
balance between defending and attacking,
but now we are stabilised.”
Wenger finds himself with another striker-
shaped hole to fill ahead of Sunday’s
game, as Olivier Giroud is suspended after
he lost an appeal against the red card he
received in last weekend’s 1-0 win at
In the Frenchman’s absence, Theo Walcott
and Lukas Podolski will compete for the
right to spearhead the home side’s attack.
United have no fresh injury concerns,
although midfielders Paul Scholes and
Ashley Young remain unavailable.
Ferguson has dismissed suggestions he
might elect to field a weakened side and
says he will select his strongest available
team out of “duty” to Arsenal’s rivals in
the battle for a top-four finish.
United have enjoyed a superb record
against Arsenal in recent seasons, winning
nine and losing just one of their last 11
encounters in all competitions.

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