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Rewind to Boxing Day 1963

Barclays Premier League
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Fergie ready for Gunners after Celtic escape

Sir Alex Ferguson is hopeful Manchester United's second-half performance at Celtic can pave the way for victory over Arsenal on Saturday. Despite only equalising with six minutes to play, United dominated the Scottish champions for much of the Wednesday's Champions League encounter. And the manner of the Red Devils' play, which improved dramatically once record £30.75million signing Dimitar Berbatov had been introduced at the break, leads Ferguson to belief United can register their first win at the Emirates Stadium.

"The result does no harm, of course," said Ferguson. "We didn't lose and the performance in the second half was the most encouraging thing. We are ready for a big game on Saturday now."

Ferguson kept Berbatov, Wayne Rooney and Patrice Evra out of his starting line-up in readiness for the crunch meeting with Arsene Wenger's out-of-form side. And although all three were eventually introduced as United battled for a result that leaves them on the verge of a place in the last 16, the Red Devils chief felt his decision had been justified.

"It's never easy picking teams with the squad we've got but I managed to rest Patrice Evra even if doing the same with Dimitar and Wayne Rooney was more difficult," he said.

"But I felt when we did bring Berbatov on and it gave them another problem. The positions he picks up are very difficult to pinpoint."

Unless United lose to Villarreal in three weeks' time and Aalborg beat Celtic and go on to win at Old Trafford by four goals, the Old Trafford outfit will take the defence of their trophy into 2009.

"It is a fantastic atmosphere here," observed Ferguson about the raucous noise made by the Parkhead crowd. "Unless you go to Barcelona or Real Madrid, nothing equals that."

Until Giggs bundled home from close range after Artur Boruc had failed to hold a Cristiano Ronaldo thunderbolt, the equaliser looked as though it would not come and despite Berbatov missing a golden chance with the last kick of the game, United were not unhappy with a point, especially as Aalborg held Villarreal in the other group game.

"We deserved to get a point but with minutes to go you think you are going to lose it, that it is not going to be your night," said Ferguson. "Losing the early goal set us back but that happens in football."

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