Evra eager to avoid controversy on return to Stamford Bridge
Wednesday 04 November 2009
Patrice Evra returns to the scene of his "battle with the groundsman" on Sunday eager to put the controversy behind him and help Manchester United overcome the team he regards as the biggest threat to their hopes of a title four-timer.
Evra still nurses a sense of injustice at the four-match ban he picked up following an FA investigation into his post-match spat with Chelsea groundsman Sam Bethell.
He continues to insist he was not the aggressor and the eventual punishment was totally unjust.
But, when United visit Chelsea on Sunday, he is determined to put such negative vibes to one side in the search for victory.
"That story is the past," he said.
"It is unfortunate that when I play against Chelsea, something always seems to happen.
"First it was the ground-staff, then last year I had a bit of an argument with Michael Ballack. This year I have to make sure nothing happens because we need to get a result."
Indeed, while Evra may hold little affection for Chelsea as a club, some of the Blues players are among his best friends. Nicolas Anelka and Didier Drogba for a start.
And he has no hesitation in plumping for the Stamford Bridge outfit when asked who he regards as the biggest danger to the Red Devils hopes of landing an unprecedented fourth successive league championship.
"Every year I think Chelsea will be our main rivals," he said.
"I am not scared of them but I respect them and they are the most dangerous rivals. I said it last year and the year before and I think it this season as well."
And, just as Evra is clear in his mind who United's biggest danger will be, he is equally certain about their biggest dangermen. Those two familiar faces the French full-back knows so well.
"Both Drogba and Anelka are good friends of mine. And I know they are both great players," he said.
"All the defenders need to focus because keeping a clean sheet will be the key to winning this game.
"We need to be strong because Drogba and Anelka are two big strikers. They are both so quick and strong, although I do feel we have enough quality to do our jobs."
Having the quality and being able to reproduce it are two different things.
No-one at Old Trafford last night for the 3-3 draw with CSKA Moscow would be expressing much confidence in United's ability to keep Chelsea out, such was the ease with which the Russians scored their goals.
As Sir Alex Ferguson is virtually resigned to being without Rio Ferdinand, who is still struggling with a calf injury, either Jonny Evans or Wes Brown will retain their central defensive berth, with Nemanja Vidic set to recover from a similar injury to the one his usual partner has.
Another change is inevitable too given Gary Neville must serve the second game of a three-match defensive suspension.
The constant switches in personnel are not helping Ferguson's team. But whoever lines up at Stamford Bridge, Evra is adamant there must be an improvement.
"If you concede three goals at home, you can hardly say it has been a good performance from the defenders," he reflected.
"We did well to come back, as we did against Manchester City. But we need to make sure we don't concede three goals on Sunday because then it won't be easy to get back."
United are looking for their first win at Stamford Bridge since 2002, another reason why Evra might not regard the venue as one of his favourite grounds.
In fact, he loves it, which is partly due to the fact that he, personally, has never been in a side that has lost there.
"Apart from the Community Shield, I have never lost against them and I aim to make sure that run continues," he said.
"If there is one game I want to win this season, it is the one at Stamford Bridge.
"I didn't know it has been so long since our last victory there. It is the right time to end that run."
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