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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Apr 10, 2008

Fergie: United ready for Arsenal

MANCHESTER, England, April 10 (Reuters) - Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson believes his players are in the ideal frame of mind to meet Premier League title rivals Arsenal on Sunday after qualifying for the Champions League semi-finals.

Leaders United will knock Arsenal out of the title race if they win at Old Trafford and leave the Gunners facing a season without silverware following their European exit at Liverpool on Tuesday.

Twenty four hours later United completed a 3-0 aggregate win over AS Roma to set up a clash with Barcelona and Ferguson's side will remain on course for a double if they can beat Arsenal and maintain their three-point advantage over Chelsea.

'I always viewed the Middlesbrough match as our most difficult game and I wasn't surprised with the performance of Middlesbrough,' Ferguson told reporters. 'They could have beaten us but we rescued a point out of it.

'The games against Arsenal and Chelsea are the two big ones. They are fantastic occasions which all the players look forward to. It's best if you go into the games in decent form and I think our form is decent.

'It will be a great game on Sunday. As we know Arsenal have been our main competitor for 13 years or whatever and it's not going to change on Sunday.

'It will be a hard-fought match and hopefully we will take the spoils.'

United have been further boosted by the return to action of experienced defenders Gary Neville and Mikael Silvestre following long-term injuries.

Neville appeared as a late substitute against Roma after almost 13 months out with an ankle injury and other related problems and his every touch was cheered by the Old Trafford crowd.

'What he learned is how much he's appreciated by the fans. It was a great reception he got,' said Ferguson.

'It's good to have the boy back. He's been through a hard time of it with persistent small injuries that were always de-railing him.'

United illustrated their strength in depth in the win over Roma as Ferguson could afford to rest Cristiano Ronaldo, Paul Scholes and Wayne Rooney.

Defender Nemanja Vidic will still be missing against Arsenal but should be fit to face Barcelona, while Silvestre's successful comeback following seven months out with a knee injury further increased Ferguson's options.

'To have him back just gives us a little bit of extra experience at a very important time of the year for us, so it was a big bonus,' the United manager added.

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