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 Posted by ESPN Staff
May 4, 2009

Ferguson to hit Arsenal on the counter-attack

Lessons learned in countless European campaigns will ensure Manchester United attack Arsenal the right way in Tuesday's Champions League semi-final second leg, their manager Alex Ferguson said on Monday.

The holders carry a 1-0 lead into the game courtesy of John O'Shea's goal but could and should have scored more, particularly in the first half when they totally dominated.

The nature of the tie has now changed, however, with Arsenal forced to attack on home soil, and Ferguson is confident that his team will hurt them on the counter.

"We have to go there with the intent of trying to score, I think we need to score, and it's important to have a threat," the Scot told a news conference.

"That would put us in a very strong position but I still think it will be a very close. It should be an engrossing game."

Having been caught out before when throwing everything forward to try to kill a tie off early, Ferguson is likely to instruct his players to play a cagey game initially.

"That counter-attacking is part of modern football and something that has really developed in the European game in the last six or seven years," he said.

"We had a spell, after we won it in 1999, when we were disappointing and had to change our thinking. We lost to PSV Eindhoven and Anderlecht away and there were some others, all on the counter-attack. But there has been a good consistency in the last few years."

With Robin van Persie set to slot back in up front for Arsenal, Ferguson expects them to return to a 4-4-2 formation but he recognises that neither manager will be able to spring many surprises.

"There's a deeper knowledge than a normal European game," he said. "We see them every week, we compete with them every season. There's nothing we don't know about them and nothing they don't know about us and with video analysis, there's nothing you can hide."

There was good news for United on Monday when centre back Rio Ferdinand trained after the bruised lung that had him coughing up blood before going off in the first leg.

Midfielder Michael Carrick said the return of Ferdinand, who missed Saturday's comfortable 2-0 Premier League win over Middlesbrough, was a real lift.

"Rio has the experience of playing at the top level for a number of years, he's just got that presence," Carrick said of his England team mate.

"He talks a lot and makes a difference when he's there."

Patrice Evra sat out Monday's session but Ferguson expects him to be fit. The fullback, along with Wayne Rooney and Carlos Tevez, is one booking away from missing the final but Ferguson said he would not be raising the issue.

"I won't address it all, I don't need to, he knows the circumstances and is very mature," said Ferguson, who lost Roy Keane and Paul Scholes from the 1999 final victory over Bayern Munich through suspension.

"We've got a good referee on Tuesday and I've noticed a trend that referees know that three bookings in the whole competition and you can miss the final...they are very professional and handle the situation well."

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