SIR Alex Ferguson has backed Arsene Wenger's controversial decision to sell Kolo Toure and Emmanuel Adebayor to Manchester City.
Many pundits felt Arsenal might have been kissing goodbye to their top-four hopes by letting two of their star men leave for a major rival.
Yet the early signs do not indicate there will be a problem.
The Gunners have scored 10 goals in their first two matches, including six at Everton on the opening day, and also reached the group stages of the Champions League by putting five past Celtic.
And Ferguson, whose Manchester United tackle Arsenal in the first blockbuster confrontation of the Premier League campaign at Old Trafford tomorrow, is adamant Wenger knows exactly what he is doing.
"I couldn't understand why they were written off," said the United boss.
"A young team like Arsenal, that is maturing, has to be respected and regarded. Six-one at Everton was an amazing result. In all my time at Manchester United, I can't remember anyone doing that at Goodison Park before.
"But one thing Arsene Wenger has done fantastically well is sell at the right time.
"He has always known the right time for a player to leave and he has done it again with Adebayor and Toure.
"It is not easy to manage that kind of change but I don't think the level of ability has changed one bit and he seems to have a good harmony in the squad."
United v Arsenal history
There was a point when United games against Arsenal needed to be viewed from behind a sofa.
If it was not Martin Keown charging Ruud van Nistelrooy after a missed penalty or Roy Keane going head-to-head in with Patrick Vieira in the Highbury tunnel, it was pieces of pizza being hurled at Ferguson by members of Wenger's squad.
Nothing similar is expected on Saturday, although the quality of the football should be of the same high standard.
"Over the years Manchester United games against Arsenal have been the feature of the Premier League," said Ferguson.
"For a long time we were both competing for the number one spot and some of the games were very feisty.
"The character of the teams has changed a bit. We don't have a Keane, they don't have a Vieira. They were both volatile characters and dominant figures in their teams.
"Tomorrow won't be in any way as competitive. It will be a different type of game."
Although United have now found their feet after a tricky opening week, that shock defeat at Burnley has left them trailing three clubs, including Arsenal, who still have 100% records.
So, while Ferguson is not convinced much can be gleaned from one battle, no matter how eagerly anticipated it is, he does not want United to drop any more points, particularly given his team struggled against all the big four last season, registering just one win in six outings.
"We dropped six points to Liverpool, four to Arsenal and two to Chelsea," he reflected.
"We need to address that and do better. One opportunity comes along tomorrow. We have lost one game and we cannot afford to lose another."