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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Jan 2, 2006

Ljungberg expecting 'calmer' encounter

Freddie Ljungberg admits Arsenal's Premiership battle with Manchester United on Tuesday 'might be a bit calmer' now that Patrick Vieira and Roy Keane are no longer involved.

Past encounters between the two clubs have been littered with controversy on and off the field with Vieira and Keane often at the forefront of matters.

But Vieira moved to Juventus for £13million in the summer and Keane severed his links with United in November, before joining Celtic.

Ljungberg admitted: 'It will be a new thing having no Vieira or Keane involved in this game. Maybe it will be a little bit more calmer!

'But they are special games. There is some history in those games but the reason you are in football is to play in the big games and that is what counts.

'I hope we can all stand up and be counted tomorrow. I do not think about the past games. It is a new season and a new battle, if you want to say that, and for us it is just important to take the three points and close the gap.

'We have had a good run at home and, if we get a bit of luck, maybe we can get a good start to the game and play really well. That will be the objective.'

Ljungberg is confident the Gunners will qualify for the Champions League despite their up-and-down form in the first half of the season.

But he admits Arsene Wenger's side have to be more consistent and the senior players have a responsibility to help the youngsters in the team progress.

He said: 'I look at the Premiership table but we know we have the quality in the team. The thing we need to do is always be consistent and always on top form with no dips and that is what we are working for.

'There is nothing in my mind thinking we will not go into the top four. I have been here seven years and we have always been in the Champions League so it is not really in my mind not to be there.

'It is presently a new situation for all the players because we have always been the top of the table the whole time. It is a new situation where we have to share our experience and try to encourage the younger players.'

Wenger said: 'Our immediate objective is to chase the pack in front of us but there are 19 games to go for us and in the last three games we have taken seven points.

'We have to keep going like that. Being in the Champions League will be important for us. If it is to be via fourth position, so be it. But it may be higher. It is down to us.'

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