Manchester United's Patrice Evra has launched an extraordinary attack on Arsenal ahead of Monday evening's Premier League showdown at Old Trafford, claiming the club are in crisis and nothing more than a "training centre".
The left-back's analysis of Arsène Wenger's side, offered on French TV station Canal+, is likely to irritate Sir Alex Ferguson for the motivation it provides to a club whose football has been comfortably the more fluent this season. "For me, Arsenal is a football training centre," Evra said. "You watch the match, you enjoy it, but are you going to win a title afterwards? That's what people remember. It has been five years since they won anything and, for a big club like Arsenal, that is a crisis.
"I hear them being compared to Barcelona but people in 20 years' time aren't going to remember Arsenal's football. We can lose against them, but at the end of the day, what is there for Arsenal? There is nothing. There are no trophies, there is nothing. Our real enemy is Chelsea. We are more concerned with their results than those of Arsenal, even if we know Arsenal are a great team who can beat Chelsea, us or anyone."
United's encounters with Arsenal have never been short of spice, with the tunnel confrontation between Roy Keane and Patrick Vieira at Highbury, Martin Keown's spat with Ruud van Nistelrooy and the mass confrontation at Old Trafford in 1990 that led to both sides being deducted points among the more memorable incidents. Evra may have provoked more with his analysis. "When we play against Arsenal, it is really fun," he added. "They are a team that plays football who will not come to Old Trafford with 11 men behind the ball. We also play football, but the difference is that we also have strength. Sometimes they cannot kill off matches. We are more efficient."
Though United are undefeated in the league, Ferguson has dismissed the notion of them maintaining a season-long unbeaten record like the 2003-4 Arsenal side. "It won't happen again," he said. "The time Arsenal did it they had 12 draws. It was a great achievement but in this present league you cannot think for a minute you will go through undefeated.
"It's an amazing league this year. We keep looking at the points we have dropped and I'm sure Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham will all be saying the same. It is a self-analysis that doesn't get you anywhere. This is a funny league; we have definitely seen a tightening up of it. It is like the Championship where you can win two games and be back in a play-off position and then lose two and be back down to fourth or fifth bottom. The Premier League is looking that way."Reuse content