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Rediff.com  » Sports » United set for crowning glory against Arsenal

United set for crowning glory against Arsenal

May 14, 2009 10:50 IST

Alex Ferguson has already masterminded 10 English titles since arriving at Manchester United but Saturday's clash with Arsenal offers him a rare opportunity to get the job done at Old Trafford.

Only once under Fergsuon, in 1998-99, have United clinched top spot at their so-called Theatre of Dreams, the other nine all being sealed on opposition territory or by watching on as their rivals stumbled.

It was clearly a motivation Wednesday when United came back from a goal down to beat Wigan Athletic 2-1 to leave them needing just a point against Arsenal to equal Liverpool's record of 18 championships.

Even more importantly, United will be keen to spare themselves any last-day stress at relegation-threatened Hull City -- a fixture that falls just three days before the Champions League final against Barcelona in Rome.

"We will approach it like we approach every match and try to win it," Ferguson said of Saturday's clash against an Arsenal side they thrashed 4-1 on aggregate in the Champions League semi-final recently. "We know how good a side they are and we will have to perform well."

Arsenal will be smarting from their humbling treatment at the hands of United and their 4-1 home defeat by Chelsea on Sunday which left them marooned in fourth place and facing a potentially tricky path into next season's Champions League.

Still, according to former United defender Mikael Silvestre the Gunners can use the visit to Old Trafford to lay down an early marker for next season.

"Saturday's game at Man United is a good chance to prove to ourselves that we have got what it takes to fight and be on top of the league for next season," Silvestre told Arsenal's website (www.arsenal.com).

"All the players now have to fight for their spots and show the boss they deserve to be there and have the will to defend Arsenal's colours."

But for a spare of damaging draws in mid-season, Liverpool would not be left hoping for a minor miracle to win the title and could have gone in to Sunday's match against West Bromwich Albion on top.

Should United avoid defeat against Arsenal, Liverpool will be left to make sure they finish second and keep Chelsea at bay. Chelsea are just three points behind Liverpool and host Blackburn Rovers Sunday.

The relegation battle remains intriguing. With two games remaining it is unusual that no team has yet been relegated although time is running out for West Brom and Middlesbrough who occupy the bottom two places, three points behind Newcastle who are just above the trapdoor.

Newcastle managed their first win under Alan Shearer on Monday, a crucial 3-1 victory over Middlesbrough, and another home win against Europe-chasing Fulham Saturday could all but secure their survival.

If they fail to win and Hull City beat Bolton Wanderers, Newcastle would again find themselves in the bottom three going into the final week of the season.

Martyn Herman
Source:
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