United don't scare us any more, says Nasri

Frenchman insists Evra's gibes merely give Arsenal added motivation

Sir Alex Ferguson may be keeping his thoughts on forthcoming summit meetings with Arsenal and Chelsea to himself and MUTV, but it will not have pleased him that his players have had quite so much to say about them.

First there was Nani – fancying himself more and more as the new Cristiano Ronaldo – talking down the champions. He was making an unfavourable comparison with the Gunners, who then came in for a verbal kicking from Patrice Evra.

Arsenal, a "training centre with no trophies... nothing", was the gist of the full-back's opinion, to add to a previous assertion of matches against them being between little boys and men. "We will see on Monday, we will show him that we grow up," was the response from a compatriot in Arsenal colours, Samir Nasri, who must feel that Evra's comments have provided every bit as much motivation as the incentive of the draw or victory at Old Trafford tomorrow night that would keep his team ahead of United in the table.

The gibes are familiar, albeit of a type more normally expressed by journalists and supporters than players. Nasri, one of the season's outstanding players, is prepared to fight fire with combustion in adding his own critique of tomorrow's opponents. "Man United is not the same team as before with Cristiano Ronaldo and Tevez," he said. "It was a little bit scary to play at Old Trafford. Now I don't think offensively they are the same as before. We're really confident to get a result out of this game."

Arsenal go into it on the back of four successive wins spread over three competitions, which followed the disturbing losses to Tottenham and Sporting Braga in the space of four days. Nasri, who will be playing his 100th game for the club, accepts that the psychological scars of the Spurs game remain, but believes their unsurpassed away record (17 points as opposed to United's nine) reflects a more solid approach away from the Emirates.

"The game against Tottenham is still in the head and when you concede a goal when you are 1-0 up, you still think about that game. The difference when we play away is that we defend much better. Our discipline and shape is more efficient. I'm confident because we can play our game and we know we can score at any moment away."

Cesc Fabregas and Abou Diaby will still be missing from midfield and Thomas Vermaelen from defence, which remains Arsenal's Achilles heel, a weak point that a Dimitar Berbatov or an invigorated Wayne Rooney (much improved against Valencia in midweek) could target. In contrast, attacking options are strengthened with Robin van Persie available after three months to play alongside or behind Marouane Chamakh. Nasri has been equally effective in centre-midfield or on either wing, becoming the leading scorer this season with 12 goals, some of them of spectacular quality.

It's as many goals in 20 games during the current campaign as in 79 previously, reflecting an improvement in form that he puts down to a summer which began with the disappointment of being omitted from France's World Cup squad. It turned out, of course, to be a good invitation to miss: "I had a good break this summer for the first time in my life. I had a rest for two months. Last year I broke my leg in pre-season and that made the difference. I'm used to playing in the Premier League now, I'm confident and all my team-mates are confident with me."

That also applies to Arsenal's manager, Arsène Wenger, who says: "What's changed is that he is scoring goals. For a long time when you play football and you are not convinced you can score goals, you get to that stage where scoring goals does not become as important to your game. Now he knows he can score in every game."

Wenger's take on the most interesting title chase for some time is: "It's not just Manchester United and Arsenal, it is as well Chelsea, Manchester City and Tottenham. But the team who will win the title is the one who will get the most points from these games against other title contenders. I don't rule Chelsea out because they will be getting [Frank] Lampard and [Michael] Essien back. They will be dangerous."

For Arsenal, like neighbours Spurs, who play Chelsea today, the start of the week brings 90 minutes of football that will tell us a lot more about them.

Manchester United v Arsenal is on Sky Sports 1 tomorrow, kick-off 8pm

Sport
The sun rises over St Andrews golf course, but will it be a new dawn for the Royal and Ancient Golf Club?
sportAnd it's Yes to women (at the R&A)
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
tvSeries celebrates 20th anniversary
Sport
Yaya Touré (left) and Bayern Munich’s Spanish defender Juan Bernat
footballToure's lack of defensive work is big problem for City
Voices
voicesApple continually kill off smaller app developers, and that's no good for anyone
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't
tv

Liam Neeson's Downton dreams

Sport
Wembley Stadium
footballNews follows deal with Germany
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Sport
A 'Sir Alex Feguson' tattoo
football

Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear
tv

Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage

Life and Style
life

News
ScienceGallery: Otherwise known as 'the best damn photos of space you'll see till 2015'
Life and Style
fashion

Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour

Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week