Fit-again Hargreaves provides Ferguson with the missing link

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The Independent Football

When Sir Alex Ferguson was fulminating over the way his second-string side had been humbled by Coventry City in the Carling Cup a month ago, it was hard to see the result fitting into a bigger plan.

But it has. Sir Alex has found himself with a midweek free of fixtures to re-energise the player whose calm, unruffled approach to the game makes him a vital ingredient for Manchester United against Arsenal at the Emirates tomorrow.

Owen Hargreaves, who returned to the United side for last Saturday's demolition of Middlesbrough after the frustration of tendinitis and a long-standing knee problem, demonstrated in his 66 minutes on the pitch why Sir Alex spent a year of hard negotiating to prise him from Bayern Munich.

"He is different type of player from what we've got and that's why we brought him here," Sir Alex said. "He's an absolutely superb reader of the game, a great tackler."

Sir Alex continued: "He's got a good temperament and shows [that] he's played in Europe before for a few years. He never gets hassled out of the game, loses his temperament or his cool so I think that's a great addition."

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