Champions League News

Vidic: United clued up on Gunners      

Samir Nasri of Arsenal tussles with Nemanja Vidic of Manchester United

Samir Nasri of Arsenal tussles with Nemanja Vidic of Manchester United


Nemanja Vidic is confident Manchester United know everything they need to know about Champions League semi-final opponents Arsenal.The all-English showdown at Old Trafford on Wednesday promises to be an enthralling affair as Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger chase the single place on offer for Rome on May 27.

It will be a new experience for United too given they have never previously faced Premier League opposition in a two-legged match.

And, while Vidic respects the Londoners, he is certain his own side will have done their homework correctly.

“We know everything about Arsenal,” said the Serbian star.

“I don’t suppose there are going to be many surprises on either side. It should be a good game and we want to win.

“Arsenal have some top-quality players and they have started to score plenty of goals.

“We respect them in that way but we will play our game and we are confident we will get a good result.”

United did lose at the Emirates Stadium, a ground they are still to win at, earlier this season in a game Sir Alex Ferguson described as one of the best he had ever seen.

The quality is unlikely to be affected by the importance of the occasion this time around as United attempt to become the first team to successfully defend the Champions League while Arsenal try to go one better than their defeat to Barcelona in Paris three years ago.

One thing United do have in their favour is the return to form of their defence.

After an unexpected wobble, during which they conceded 10 goals in four games, the Red Devils have kept three successive clean sheets.

And with Rio Ferdinand now recovered from his groin injury, Ferguson’s team will entertain Arsenal in a position of strength.

“We need Rio at this time of the year,” said Vidic.

“We have reached a point in the season when one game can decide everything.

“Now is the semi-final of the Champions League and we must be at our very best.”

Arsenal will bring 3,800 fans north for a very English occasion which, at this stage of the competition, has previously been the exclusive preserve of Chelsea and Liverpool.

But midfielder Michael Carrick is not alone in thinking Wednesday will not be the same as a normal domestic confrontation.

“European nights feel different,” he said.

“The atmosphere at Old Trafford is not the same and I am sure it will be the same at the Emirates.

“Sometimes matches like these can be quite cagey affairs, other times it can open right up, as it did at Stamford Bridge for the 4-4 draw with Liverpool.

“I am pretty sure they will be great matches for the neutral to watch.”

With Gary Neville ruled out, Ferguson will hope to have John O’Shea available to fill the right-back berth, otherwise he will be forced to choose between the inexperience of Rafael or Wes Brown, who is bound to be rusty after so long on the sidelines.


Champions League – Mancienne may get Messi task


Chelsea boss Guus Hiddink has admitted Michael Mancienne could be asked to mark Lionel Messi when the Blues face Barcelona next week.

FOOTBALL 2008-09 Champions League Chelsea manager Guus Hiddink and defender Michael Mancienne - 0

Mancienne was trialled at left-back during the reserves’ draw with West Brom on Monday as Hiddink looks at possible replacements for the suspended Ashley Cole in the Champions League encounter.

The England Under-21 international, who has made just for senior appearances for the Blues, insists he is ready to answer the call to fill in if required and Hiddink has confirmed Mancienne is in his thinking.

“Mancienne is an option to play left-back against Barcelona,” said Hiddink.

Liverpool striker Fernando Torres has tipped Barcelona to eliminate Chelsea and go on to win the Champions League after labelling Pep Guardiola’s side the best team in Europe.

Barcelona, who eliminated Liverpool, in the semi-finals of the continent’s pedigree club competition after brushing aside Bayern Munich.

And Torres expects Guardiola’s table-toppers and Copa del Rey finalists to knock out the Blues en route to a final with either Arsenal or Manchester United.

If United – who could win a quadruple this season – were to reach the final, Torres also believes Barca would defeat the Premier League leaders.

“Barcelona are clearly the best side in Europe,” the former Atletico Madrid forward said.

“United’s squad of players is very impressive. You barely notice when they have players out.

“They have footballers like Tevez, Berbatov or Giggs on the bench. But even so I think Barcelona would get the better of them.

“Manchester United suffer an awful lot if they do not control possession.

“Barcelona have much more quality about them and no doubt if the two were to meet, Barca would have the lions-share of possession and that would hurt United.”


TeamTalk / EurosportTop scorers »

8 Lionel Messi Barcelona
7 Steven Gerrard Liverpool
7 Miroslav Klose Bayern
6 Lisandro Porto
5 Emmanuel Adebayor Arsenal
5 Thierry Henry Barcelona
5 Alessandro Del Piero Juventus
5 Karim Benzema Lyon

Assists »

6 Franck Ribéry Bayern
6 Xavi Hernández Barcelona
5 Cesc Fàbregas Arsenal
5 Frank Lampard Chelsea
4 Anders Due AaB
4 Juninho Pernambucano Lyon
4 Lionel Messi Barcelona
4 Raul Meireles Porto

~ by awbroady on April 25, 2009.

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