Arsenal will not win title - Evra

10 December 2010 04:34
Manchester United left-back Patrice Evra claims Arsenal are in "crisis" and has rubbished the Gunners' title hopes ahead of their meeting on Monday."We could lose to them but then what? There is nothing (for them), there will be no trophy, nothing," said Evra.

"Arsenal are a great club but it has been five years since they won anything and that for me is a crisis."

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger, whose side are a point clear of United at the top, suggested the comments lacked respect.

It is not the first time Evra has questioned Arsenal's credentials, saying after United's victory over them in the 2009 Champions League semi-finals that "it was 11 men against 11 babies, we never doubted ourselves".

Based on what the United players are saying, I think they're scared of Arsenal vamca2010 Since Arsene Wenger became Gunners boss in 1996, his side have won three Premier League titles, the last of which was in 2004, and four FA Cups. They also reached the Champions League final in 2006 and the final of the League Cup in 2007.

But in the last six years Wenger's youthful side have won only the 2005 FA Cup, while United in the same period can lay claim to three Premier League crowns, three League Cups and one Champions League trophy.

"Arsenal is a training centre," Evra told French television station Canal Plus. "I watch them play and enjoy it but will they win the title? That's what people remember.

"When you play against Arsenal it is a lot of fun. They are a team that play football. They won't come to Old Trafford and put 11 men behind the ball.

"The difference is we play football but also have power. Sometimes they don't kill matches off while we are more efficient.

"Our real enemy is Chelsea. We are more concerned with Chelsea's results than Arsenal's, even if we know Arsenal are a great team who can beat Chelsea, us or anyone."

Wenger stopped short of directly condemning his fellow Frenchman, saying he would leave others to judge whether Evra had transgressed.

"Personally, I believe if you are a big player you always respect your opponent and that is what we try to do," said Wenger.

Wenger was sent from the dugout at Old Trafford last season"We do not want to go into any unneeded talking before a game like that.

"We want to focus on the way we want to play and ignore any provocation."

Arsenal have not beaten United in their last five meetings - losing four - but their in-form midfielder Samir Nasri rebuffed Evra's criticism.

He said: "We are not children and we will demonstrate that on Monday. We will show Manchester United that Arsenal have really grown."

The comments come after a more convivial atmosphere to the build-up earlier in the week.

United boss Sir Alex Ferguson called for his team's supporters not to repeat the offensive chanting that has been aimed at his Arsenal counterpart on some of his previous appearances at Old Trafford.

But Wenger remains philosophical about the possibility of more personal abuse.

"You know what happened over the years. I believe in individual responsibility of what you do in life," he said.

"I cannot master 70,000 or 80,000 people. I try to do my job, that is all."

Wenger believes his relationship with Ferguson has improved since his early days in English football.

Ferguson famously described his rival as a "novice" who "should keep his views to Japanese football" after Wenger's arrival from Grampus Eight.

"It has changed a little bit by the length of the surviving of both managers in their team and there is a respect and understanding of the difficulty of this job," reflected Wenger.

"That's maybe what you call 'mellowing'."

Club captain Cesc Fabregas's recovery from a hamstring injury will be assessed shortly before kick-off, but Wenger said he will not take "an unreasonable gamble" on the midfielder's fitness.

United have been near-faultless on their own turf in the 2010-11 campaign, winning seven and drawing one of their eight home Premier League games.

But a return of only one victory and six draws from seven away fixtures has left them a point adrift of Arsenal, albeit with a game in hand.

In a normal situation you'd say that this period is probably the most important part of the season. But in the way this league has turned out, it's difficult to assess Sir Alex Ferguson United's trip to Blackpool last Saturday was cancelled because of a frozen pitch, so this will be their first league outing since the 7-1 thrashing of Blackburn on 27 November.

Reigning champions Chelsea are two points behind Arsenal in third and can go top if they beat Tottenham at White Hart Lane on Sunday - but if there is a winner at Old Trafford, that team will leapfrog the Blues at the summit.

Chelsea then host United on Sunday 19 December in what could prove another key moment in the title race.

Ferguson has confirmed that Evra, centre-back Rio Ferdinand and central midfielder Paul Scholes should be fit to face Arsenal.

Defensive duo Jonny Evans and Wes Brown had been struggling with a virus but they are also in contention.

The current Premier League table is far more congested than in previous years, with only six points separating the top five and positions six to 18 split by eight points.

"In a normal situation you'd say that this period is probably the most important part of the season," explained Ferguson. "But in the way this league has turned out, it's difficult to assess.

"Look at Sunderland for example - a few weeks ago they were third or fourth bottom. Now they've had a bit of consistency and won a few games and are challenging for a European place.

"I think we're all probably analysing how we've dropped points. It's just the nature of the league."

Source: BBC_Sport