We do not fear Arsenal - Smalling

10 December 2010 11:29
Manchester United defender Chris Smalling feels his side have no reason to fear Arsenal ahead of Monday's eagerly-awaited match at Old Trafford.United are unbeaten in the league this season but face arguably their biggest test yet in table-toppers Arsenal, who hold the division's best away record. [LNB]"It is a massive game but we don't have any need to fear them," said Smalling. [LNB]"We will have 70,000 fans cheering us on. They should be intimidated more than we are." [LNB]The Red Devils have been near-faultless on their own turf in the 2010-11 campaign, winning seven and drawing one of their eight home league games. [LNB]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. [LNB]United's trip to Blackpool last Saturday was cancelled because of a frozen pitch, so this will be their first Premier League outing since the 7-1 thrashing of Blackburn on 27 November.[LNB] Your thoughts ahead of Monday's match at Old Trafford Chelsea, a point further back, 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. [LNB]Following the visit of Arsenal, United travel to Chelsea on Sunday 19 December in what could prove another key point in the title race. [LNB]"When the fixtures first came out everyone saw this as a pivotal period," stated Smalling. [LNB]"We didn't get into top gear during the first month of the season. Now it is time for us to kick on and send out a message because we are getting stronger as a team." [LNB]United manager Sir Alex Ferguson confirmed on Friday that centre-back Rio Ferdinand, left-back Patrice Evra and central midfielder Paul Scholes should be fit to face Arsenal. [LNB]Defensive duo Jonny Evans and Wes Brown had been struggling with a virus but they are also in contention as United look to maintain a five-match unbeaten run against Arsene Wenger's men. [LNB]"Everyone looks forward to the big games and this is one of the biggest," said United captain Nemanja Vidic. [LNB] 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 "In fact I would say it is the biggest game in this part of the season. [LNB]"At the moment Arsenal are playing good football and are top of the league. It would be nice if we could win the game and go above them. [LNB]"We are all aware it is a long season. You can already see how many teams are dropping points. [LNB]"It is too early to start talking about winning this one game giving us an advantage. But it would be nice to do it." [LNB]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. [LNB]"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. [LNB]"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. [LNB]"That's the way we used to consider things in the Championship. In the title race you could win two games and be back in the play-off position and lose two games and be back down to fourth or fifth bottom. It's that kind of league. It's changed. [LNB]"There were slight indications of that last season, but more so this season because Chelsea, Arsenal and ourselves have all dropped points. [LNB]"I think we're all probably analysing how we've dropped points. It's just the nature of the league." [LNB]Arsenal will hope captain Cesc Fabregas can recover from a hamstring injury but the Gunners' stand-out performer has been fellow midfielder Samir Nasri. [LNB]The 23-year-old Frenchman has scored 12 goals in 20 club appearances this term and played a crucial role in their progress to top spot in the league, the Champions League knockout stage and the Carling Cup semi-finals. [LNB]"Nasri has definitely shown he is one of the best players in the Premier League," added Smalling. "He is clearly a key man for Arsenal and someone we will have to watch out for. [LNB]"He is so comfortable on the ball and I admire him greatly but you cannot just single one player out from a side like theirs."

Source: BBC_Sport