Friday, 29 April 2011

Evra is wary of a 'wounded' Arsenal

Manchester United's Patrice Evra is wary of a 'wounded' Arsenal when both sides meet at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday.

The Gunners' Barclays Premier League ambitions were virtually snuffed out at Bolton last weekend when a last-gasp Tamir Cohen winner left them nine points adrift of United with four games to play.

The defeat has led to a week of scrutiny for boss Arsene Wenger and his richly talented yet, for a sixth consecutive season, trophyless squad.

Evra believes the bad press will ensure their hosts come out firing on Sunday, when victory for United would take them to the brink of a record 19th league title.

"You have to fear the wounded animal," the France full-back said. "It is all or nothing for Arsenal so that is a danger.

"They will want to show they can still win the title."

"We have a good record at Arsenal but statistics can change so quickly.

"Our record at the Emirates will hurt them and they will want to do something about it."

By the time United kick off on Sunday, closest challengers Chelsea could have closed the gap behind them to three points as they host Tottenham in the late game on Saturday.

The Blues have been galvanised after expensive striker Fernando Torres broke his much-publicised scoring duck in the 3-0 win over West Ham last weekend, their fourth consecutive victory.

While snatching the title from United still seems unlikely - although they still have to play the leaders at Old Trafford - boss Carlo Ancelotti is enthused and hinted he may pair Torres and Didier Drogba up front.

"When you have very good players, you have to try to put them together," he said.

"Maybe they can sacrifice something of their ability, of their skills, but they can play together. If you are able to do this, I think it is good for the team, to get good results."

Spurs have plenty to play for as well as they can afford nothing less than victory if they are to return to the Champions League.

Harry Redknapp's side are four points behind fourth-place Manchester City, who occupy the last Champions League qualification place, and who play bottom-placed West Ham on Sunday.

"If we lose to Chelsea and City win their next two games it will be virtually impossible (to finish fourth)," Spurs midfielder Tom Huddlestone said.

"We don't want to be hanging on for fifth position. We have to look up and we want to finish where we were last season."

At the other end of the table, just five points separate the bottom five clubs.

West Ham are joined by Wolves and Wigan in the bottom three, with Blackpool teetering just above them.

Wolves failed to haul themselves out of the drop zone after they were hammered 3-0 at Stoke in midweek and face another tough task with a Midlands derby at Birmingham this weekend.

Wigan are behind Blackpool on goal difference only and host Everton while the Tangerines are also on their own soil when they play Stoke.

Blackburn will look to arrest their 10-game winless run, that has left them just a point above the relegation places, when they host Bolton.

Fulham boss Mark Hughes has targeted a top-10 finish after their 3-0 win over Bolton in midweek and they travel to Sunderland while West Brom are at home to Aston Villa in another Midlands derby.

Andy Carroll could make a first appearance against his former club Newcastle on Sunday after missing last weekend's 5-0 win over Birmingham with a knee complaint.

Carroll moved from his hometown club in January for a club record £35million but injury has undermined his impact at Anfield since.
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